Tinakaye from Ohio is 36 years old and the mother of four. She has been following the Atkins diet on and off for ten years, but used it only as a “diet” and not lifetime a way of eating. “I started again two years ago,” she said, “with the first year being off and on. Then, a year ago, the light bulb went off in my head. I finally understood that this must be a lifetime way of eating and not just a diet for me. I know that Dr. Atkins repeats many times throughout his book that this is to be a way of eating, but I thought I was “different” and it didn’t apply to me…… Wrong!”
Ever since Tinakaye was a teenager she was “chunky.” With each pregnancy she gained more and more. “I have four children, including a set of twins,” she told me “By the time my last children were born, I was just downright fat!”
Her first major attempt at weight control/loss was bulimia.” I think I started when I was about 15 years old,” she said. “I continued the bulimic cycle off and on for many years. I did it initially because I thought I could eat whatever I wanted and then get “rid of it.” Purging actually made me feel good! I felt powerful and in control. I loved the feeling of my tummy being totally empty.”
But there was a downside to Tinakaye’s bulimia.” I was very weak and sickly. And I had to become secretive to hide my problem. I finally got scared that I would have to have a colostomy. It took me two years to break the addiction to laxatives. It took at least that long for my skin and hair to become healthy again. Of course, I
rebounded and gained all the weight back, plus more.”
Next, Tinakaye tried TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) for one year. “It did work,” she stated “Once again, I lost a lot of weight. My bulimic tendencies plus my overwhelming desire to be the “best” got in the way of a healthy dieting.”
At TOPS meetings each week every member would put a quarter in a jar. Whoever was the biggest loser won the quarters. “It wasn’t much, but… I wanted to be the winner,” Tinakaye admitted. “The people who weighed you would be up on a stage. You had a bank book. Using black pens for marking ‘withdrawals’ and red pens for ‘deposits.’ Everyone would watch to see if the leaders wrote in your book with a black pen or a red one.”
The ‘motivational’ tactics at the TOPS meetings backfired on Tinakaye, and her bulimic tendencies arose with a vengeance. There was no way she could let them use a red pen in her book! “So I consumed very few calories. My skin became dry and sallow. My face was very bony. It was hard to do. Luckily, by that point in my life, I recognized the dangers within myself and quit the group. I immediately gained the weight back yet again.”
For Tinakaye, trying to maintain a low fat regime lasted about three months. She was starving all the time, and didn’t really lose much weight on it. “I didn’t feel very well eating low fat,” she said “I had no energy and just felt ‘frazzled’ all the time. For some reason, it effected my nerves and made me very snappy and short-tempered. I just felt deprived! It was hard for me to do. I just hated every minute on that plan!”
After making low carb her way of eating, Tinakaye has seen a very real and dramatic change in both her mental and physical state. “I know I was addicted to carbs!” she exclaimed. “And I am hypoglycemic as well. Since I knocked off the cheating, my blood sugar levels have been completely normal. I don’t have that horrible crash I used to feel when I ate ‘normally’ or like those I experienced on any of the other diets.”
Since being true to a low carbohydrate way of eating, Tinakaye has experienced no bulimic episodes at all! “I believe that without the sugar constantly effecting both my mental and physical state I’m more stable and more in control of my food choices,” she said. “I have no need to binge or purge because if I’m hungry I can eat!!”
Recently, Tinakaye reached a ‘true goal’ that she shared with me and with many of her friends on the low carb lists she subscribes to. “Have I lost more weight, you ask?? Nope, still sitting at 124, but the ultimate goal did happen nonetheless,” she told me.
So what was it?
“When I look at photos of myself or even look in mirrors and see the flaws and what body parts need a lot more work in the gym! If I see a photo of myself where I think I ‘look thin, I attribute it to the lighting, the clothes I’m wearing, or basically anything but actually accepting the fact that I am thin! But somehow over the past few days I’ve been coming to the realization that when I look at photos or the mirror…… That is what I look like…. It might sound silly to some, but to me it was a major breakthrough!”
“Yesterday, I got dressed and this time I didn’t go looking for all the flaws that I have. (And will probably always have.) Instead, I just looked and gave myself my own approval! I cannot even begin to describe the joy that I felt yesterday and the weight that was lifted off me due to this self realization!”
Tinakaye continued. “My thighs are still too big, and my ribs get in the way of a perfect waistline. But you know what? That’s okay, because I can finally see who I am and how far I have come! The fat girl in my mind keeps pushing at me and telling me I’m not thin enough, pretty enough, acceptable enough…. But the me I am today is growing stronger and stronger, and she is going to kick that fat girl out of my brain!”
“To sum it up, I’m learning to push back at that fat girl and like who I am – even with all my flaws and that – is a goal that I never thought I would be able to reach! I write this with tears streaming down my face because I am just so danged happy that I reached my ‘true’ goal!”
“I have to admit to doing, ummm, ‘a bit’ of shopping,” Tinakaye laughed. “In fact, I went on a major shopping spree at Victoria’s Secret the other day!! I have never bought anything from there before because I was too uncomfortable to even walk in the door! So I had fun!” she grinned.
“Sure there are other reasons why we gain weight. But a large percentage of them basically boil down to our own experiences and our emotions,” Tinakaye said “Instead of being open and sharing our insecurities, we comfort ourselves silently with food and hide behind of our layers of fat. We deny our thoughts and our pain, and find an acceptable way of dealing with them, again eating.”
Somehow by verbalizing and writing down these things, Tinakaye feels, we make them smaller and take away the power that they hold over us. “I do think that mental attitude is at least 60% of being successful. I figure we slow losers are very fortunate as well, the slow weight loss gives us plenty of opportunity to get used to our weight loss and new bodies. It also gives our skin a chance to fit our new shapes better. Sometimes you have to look for the silver lining, but it’s almost always there somewhere!”
“I can’t say that I understand why food is such a comfort for us,” Tinakaye continued, “but I think of my children when they were babies and would be acting fussy and would want me to feed them. There natural instinct even then would be to nurse and be feed when troubled or upset. Guess a lot of us never grow out of that stage….”
“One way you’re going to grow and to be able to keep losing and then maintain your weight loss,” she explained, “is to find the reasons that make you overeat (besides hunger) and deal with those issues in another way. I highly advocate keeping a food journal. I write down not only what I eat – the calories, carbs, proteins, etc. – I write down my thoughts and emotions about food. When I read them I can usually find insights here and there to help me understand myself even better.”
Tinakaye’s first 60 pounds just seemed to fly off. It took her a little over a year with no tweaking. She just stuck to the basics of proteins, cheese, and vegetables. “Now the last 13 pounds has been the ongoing problem,” she told me. “I’ve been tweaking and working out and going nuts busting my butt to get each one of those pounds off!! And it does seem to hold true that the last bit of weight wants to stay on your hips! I had several 2-month-long stalls, and one stall that lasted 4 months! Only way to break it was to go low carb, low cal and low fat…… so I did that for 15 days and finally broke through that stinking stall!”
“I know the slow weight loss and weight training are what seems to work best for my body. (So does a healthy dose of patience!) Sometimes you will hit set points, but just never ever give up,” Tinakaye said encouragingly. Your body generally has its best interests in mind, and if you continue low carbing it will happen. Yes, trust me; I get impatient and discouraged as well! Once I went for 4 months without losing a pound and wasn’t very happy about it! But you just keep slugging away and pound by pound you’ll get to goal.” (Currently Tinakaye is at 127 pounds and looking wonderful!)
Tinakaye recently had some wonderful news to share. “I’m going to New York! I just got another email from Atkins people and talked to two of their producers, and I’m going to be in their summer catalog! I’m totally tripping out!! How much good news can you get in one day?? But what am I going to wear? I didn’t think to ask them that, and now I’m wondering and worried!!! When I got the email asking me to call them, I just sat there in shock with tears in my eyes. This is just so cool!! I actually have a headache already just from being such a spaz! They are taking me out to dinner my first night in New York, and I said I was going to order bread just to see their faces, but I’m joking!!! I’m going to get the biggest steak they have!”
We all look forward to checking out the new Atkins catalog and reading up on Tinakaye’s wonderful trip and her success at maintaining her goal weight.
More Low-Carb Success stories.