Tejinder from India is 37 years old and six feet tall. He began the Atkins program on August 12, 2002, weighing 214 pounds and with a 42-inch waist. Today he is nearing his goal weight of 175 pounds, currently weighing 185 pounds!
“I have been overweight for a long time. I weighed 154 pounds when I got married in 1987. I had just qualified for my Chartered Accountancy then and had set up a practice. It meant a sedentary lifestyle, and a lot of social eating partying. Moreover, long working hours during formative years of my practice meant that I did not find time for exercise. All this resulted in shooting up my weight to an abnormally high level. At one point in time I weighed 260 pounds!!”
“I have been yo-yo dieting for many years. I have lost pounds many times before, and have not only regained them, but also added more to my previous weight. All my earlier dieting has been with the conventional low fat diets. In the past, whenever I found that my weight had reached a dangerous proportion, I would go onto a crash diet.”
“The longest period of successful dieting started on October 1st of last year. I was peaking at 260 pounds. I went on a diet of salads and vegetables. Over a period of 10 months, I brought myself down to 214! But my weight refused to go below this mark. This was mainly for two reasons: first, the initial zeal was fading, and since I weighed less now, I was less serious about sticking to my low calorie plan. Secondly, I had started feeling that I had reached a level, below which the weight would not go, however hard I tried. Then I discovered Atkins!!”
“I used the low calorie method because this is what dietitians have always taught us. Eat less calories, burn more calories, eat less fat, eat more fruits and vegetables, eat less sugar, avoid red meat, say no to eggs, say no to rice, bread, potato, etc., etc., etc.! I have made repeated attempts at least three times during the last eight years!”
“The ‘conventional diet’ needed a great deal of self-control. I would often bring myself to a starvation level. I would find sometimes that I was lacking the necessary stamina and energy because of dieting for too long. If I was successful for a week, I would reward myself by eating a calorie-rich diet on weekends, resulting in great difficulties resuming my diet on Monday. Often, I would succumb to temptation.”
“Another bad thing about that diet was that the scale would not move as fast as I wished it to. Sometimes it would refuse to bulge a single point. Sometimes it would show a higher weight. I stopped watching my weight on daily basis and would watch it once a week for this reason.”
“The bad part of low calorie dieting was that I was always starving! While I have a great deal of self-control, I would occasionally give in to temptation. Having done that, I would keep feeling guilty for a couple of days until I was rid of the effects of excess eating. Quite often I would think that instead of starving myself so much, a better course would be to eat a lot, even if that meant a pot belly, with all it’s hazards. Additionally, while I went on an absolute low calorie diet, I could still not control my temptation to eat rice. Every day I would take a couple of spoons of boiled rice that I would put in vegetable soup or garnish over a boiled vegetable or salad.”
“Low calorie dieting was very hard to follow, but I always followed it, though it meant curtailing my social eating. I would often go to functions, and come back having eaten only a few salad vegetables. Moreover, the greatest frustration would come when the scale did not drop the way it should have despite starving myself so much! It worked, but was a very slow process. After some time, the temptation to eat a ‘normal diet’ would take over the desire to lose weight. Moreover still, I felt so bad that while everyone was having a party, I was looking for vegetable clear soup, carrots and cauliflower! I always felt jealous of friends who would eat, drink, be merry, and still not gain weight.”
“Atkins is unheard of in India. Mid August, I came across Atkins, and decided to read the book and do some research before I wrote it off as a ‘fad diet.’ The more I read the more I was convinced that this was the real ‘way of eating’ and ‘way of life.’ I had many questions in my mind; the book had answers to all of them. I had reached a stage where further weight loss was looking impossible for me, at the moment. Moreover, since I had been on a low fat diet for 10 months, my weight was down, and I thought that was the best time to take a ‘risk.’ I would not have perhaps thought of trying a high fat diet when I already had so much fat down there in my belly! This is because, what I read in Atkins seemed too good to be true!”
“It had been 10 months, that I had already been on a diet which was comprised of zero bread, zero sugar, no potato, and very little rice per day. However this diet was not accompanied by increase in protein and fat. I would say my
diet for those 10 months was a low fat, low carb diet. As soon as I had finished reading the chapter on Induction in Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, I was tempted to switch to it. And I did – before I had even read the whole book! I thought I had sufficient reserve in the form of 44 pounds that I had already lost. I could afford to take risk. I thought, at the most I would gain a few pounds during 14 days of Induction, I could always go back to my earlier low fat diet to reverse its effect! That was, of course, my thought before I started Atkins.”
“The best part of low carb life style is that it works! And it works pretty fast. As I got into ketosis I could see my weight fall every day. I was eating healthy food all along, food that was taboo to me when I was on a low fat diet. It initially looked too good to be true, but when I got going, I realized that this diet is a miracle. And there is enough scientific evidence to support it.”
“This way of eating works because it does not want you to starve yourself. It appreciates the fact that, starvation is not the solution to excess weight. If you can’t keep hunger away for long, sooner or later you are going to succumb. When you do succumb, the lost weight will come back with vengeance.”
“After I got into low carbing, I did a thorough study of how useful fats are for our body. Cholesterol in food does not mean cholesterol in your blood. Sugar is the most lethal food ever invented. If you want to live a healthier life, you must break get out of the carbo-insulin cycle. The best way to do that is to reduce your sugar consumption so that you reduce insulin secretion in your body.”
Low carbing is sometimes easy, but at times, it can be very hard. For me, sticking to this lifestyle is no problem at all. In fact, I found that I have successfully ‘de-addicted’ myself of all those carb-laden foods that I used to eat so often. I was so fond of rice. As I mentioned earlier, even when on a low calorie diet, I could not resist the temptation to eat rice. But on Atkins, I have changed myself completely. Being a high fat diet, you very soon reach a level of satiety, and do not get cravings for these
“The difficult part, for me, is social eating. Initially my family was not convinced about this way of eating. However, when I told them that I had done sufficient research about its safety, I got their approval.”
“In India, not many have heard of this kind of diet, and we all go by the conventional dietary wisdom. I discussed it with dietitians and they would give me 10 different reasons to avoid this diet. None would be able to give any evidence, or any research work to prove their point. In a country where everybody preaches toward vegetarian food eating, you look the odd man out if you are on a total non-vegetarian diet. Moreover, the biggest problems arise when you are invited for a vegetarian dinner. Of course, most of these problems are at the Induction phase, and will not be there when I am in second phase of Atkins, where I will be increasing the quantity of good vegetable carbohydrates.”
“There have been innumerable benefits of this way of living for me. First, all my old clothes fit now. I feel much younger and more energetic than before. Earlier, I would become breathless after jogging for a short distance. Now I can exercise much more than before. This has got cumulative effects. More exercise means higher rate of metabolism, which, in turn means further weight reduction. The chain reaction has started and I am reaping full benefits.”
“Problems?? Well, there are problems too. First, all the investment I had recently made in my new wardrobe has gone down the drain. There are a few clothes that I did not wear more than once! I am sure I shall never be able to use them in future either! There are a few challenges before a low carber in India. We don’t get low carb products here. They are unheard of. So, I decided to stick to very basic: fish, chicken, eggs, meat, cheese, butter, ghee, mayonnaise, and oil. The second challenge is to create low carb recipes out of ingredients available in the Indian kitchen. A challenge, but not undoable.”
“Everyone was skeptical when I told them about this way of eating. They said, ‘It can’t work; your weight will shoot up beyond control!’ Now that I have proven that it works, the doubting Thomas’s have different theories: ‘It will raise your cholesterol level’; ‘Your brain needs glucose to function, and this glucose comes from the sugar that we eat’; ‘Excess protein is going to affect your kidneys’; ‘You will develop gout!’ I researched and found no truth in any of these statements. On the other hand, it improves the blood pressure, reduces the cholesterol level, and stabilizes the blood sugar levels!”
“Wherever I go, people who know me look at me in disbelief, to find I have changed so much. Originally, I was on a low calorie diet and had lost a lot of weight. Before this weight could bounce back, I switched to Atkins. The total weight loss of about 72 pounds in one year has certainly made me a different person. It has happened many a time during the past few days that someone who knew me so well before didn’t recognize me. When he did so later, he had disbelief written largely on his face. One friend, hesitatingly, asked me, if I was not well, or was suffering from some sickness, which has caused all my fat to melt!”
“The effect of this curiosity is that I am explaining these things to many, and they are converting to Atkins. The tribe is growing! My father, who is a heart patient, is now on Atkins. He is feeling much better with this lifestyle. My sister and nephew in Delhi, brother in Nagpur, and many friends in different parts of the country are either on Atkins now, or planning to get on it.”
“The other day, a leading homeopath called on me. He wanted me to explain the concept to her threadbare. We had a discussion that lasted for more than an hour. I also gave her books to read. She plans to advise her patients in following this way of eating.”
“Being perhaps the first person to experiment with this kind of diet in this part of the world, I am trying my best to spread the knowledge so that people can benefit. The belief that fats are bad is deep-rooted, but people believe real life success stories and slowly but surely, the good word is spreading.”
As with all of our “Success Story” interviewees, I asked Tejinder to comment on the following subjects:
If you were speaking to a group of new low carbers and seasoned veterans about this way of eating, what tips and/or advice would you give them regarding the following?
- Cheating – “Please don’t cheat,” Tejinder replied. “A single cheat may or may not divert you from your plan, but it does harm you psychologically. Induction is a wonderful DE-addiction therapy; it reduces cravings for the food you should not eat. If you cheat, the possibility of old habits returning is great! Avoid the pitfall. If for some reason you are required to eat the food that you should not be eating, as it happens with me sometimes, and it is not possible to refuse an invitation, eat as little of the forbidden food aspossible. Combine it with a great deal of fat and protein, and for the rest of the day (or 2-3 days) shift to an all meat diet.”
- Stalls – “I am a firm believer in the philosophy that if you are doing your part right, stalls should not bother you. Weight loss is not a continuous process; it happens intermittently. My advice is not to go onto the scale everyday; the variations are bound to confuse you. Instead, weigh yourself once a week.
- Make sure that you are doing things right. Are you drinking enough water? There is no need to measure the quantity, keep drinking as much as you can. Since low carbing has a diuretic effect on your system, water intake is of primary importance. Do not forget to take vitamin and mineral supplements. Calcium, magnesium and potassium are essential while you are on Induction.
- If you become constipated during Induction, as many do, do take sufficient quantity of psyllium husk during Induction.”
- Most important points to remember? – “The most important point to remember is that you must have faith in yourself, in the diet plan you have adopted and in the Almighty. Put your heart into it. Let not the skepticism of people around you bother you. Truth shall prevail!”
We will be thrilled to update you all on Tejinder at a later date to let you know his insights on reaching goal and maintenance!
Tejinder’s favorite online support groups are: