Winning a Constant Struggle with Her Weight: Elaine’s Low Carb Success Story

Winning a Constant Struggle with Her Weight: Elaine's Low Carb Success Story

Began putting on weight following a serious illness when she 11

Elaine is from London. She is 43 years old, and has been on the Atkins Diet since 3/5/2000. Elaine began putting on weight following a serious illness when she 11. From then on, she has had a constant struggle with her weight.

Elaine was put on a very strict low-calorie diet after her childhood illness. “Limited meat, etc., VERY depressing,” she told me. Elaine weighed 150 pounds when she began on the low-calorie regime, and by the time she was 16, she weighed 220 pounds. As a result, she had a miserable adolescence. “I tried to lose weight seriously when I was 19 and at the university by eating only before 9:30 am. (I hate mornings!) I lost 20 pounds in 3 months and felt ravenous the whole time.”

Elaine quit that way of eating (or not eating), and she returned to eating the way she had prior to beginning at the university. She had previously been able to keep her weight relatively “stable” for a couple of years that way, but this time she gained back all of the weight she had lost semi-fasting. In fact, she regained twice the amount she had lost in a matter of just a few months.

A modified fast of 186 calories a day

At the age of 24 Elaine went into the hospital for a modified fast of 186 calories daily. “Four sachets of protein powder, a multi-vitamin, metabolic minerals (folic acid, etc.) combined with exercise (a 1 kilometer swim every morning, 2-hour gym sessions in the morning and again in the afternoon, and long walks with the hospital groups.” She lost 26 pounds in 3 months.

The hospital discharged her with orders to remain on a 500-calorie-a-day diet of prepackaged ‘food.’ In the two weeks, before her first outpatient appointment, she regained 10 pounds. “I had not cheated, and only eaten what they supplied. I was treated like a criminal and cross-examined for hours about what I had eaten. They refused to believe me, accused me of cheating, lying, and being an alcoholic! In the end, I walked out.”

Elaine tried to stick to 500 calories daily on her own but gained back all the weight she had lost, plus more. Eventually, she gave up and went back to “normal” eating, but restricted herself to no more than 1,500 calories daily.

17 years of reduced-calorie diets

For the next 17 years, Elaine consistently tried reduced-calorie diets. “Nothing that wasn’t fat-reduced or sugar-free crossed my lips. Meat was an occasional treat. Cream, butter or sweet things were never even considered. I ate lots of “healthy” low-calorie fruit and veggies. A jacket potato without butter was a favorite dinner, and a chicken breast without the skin, a real luxury. My frying pan was redundant,” Elaine says.

“I was referred to a dietitian at my own request,” Elaine continues, “and she asked me to make a note of all I ate for a week. This I did, faithfully. She then asked me about the ‘other food’ (the food I had omitted from my list) – the sweets and cakes that I obviously had gorged on a daily basis. I explained that the only things that had entered my mouth that were not on the list were the end of my pencil and my thumb. She said that if I was not prepared to take this seriously, she could not help me. I told her that it was obvious that she couldn’t help me, and left.”

“During all of these attempts, I just reduced my intake from my previously low levels. Exercise was never a problem. I never sat still! Friends were amazed that this fat woman could walk so far, and do it so much. That is, until three years ago, when a car crash left me disabled and in pain. About a year ago I weighed 400 pounds, and never ate more than 900 calories daily. I was tired, constantly hungry, and any food intake at all made me feel guilty. I had no shortage of will power, I never cheated, seldom ate anything “off the diet,” and when I had to go out for a meal, I would fast the day before and the day after in an effort to “atone.” Still, the weight piled on.”

My aunt gave me the Atkins book for Christmas 1999.

 “Gee, thanks, how really…… exciting.” All the food I ate before was low calorie, but high in carbohydrates. I now believe that I am unable to process carbs, but whether I was addicted? I’m not sure. I must admit that I miss bread and potatoes, but it’s not a physical craving in me, just an old friend who played a major part in my life!”

“Bloody mindedness” made Elaine decide to try low carbing, that and a wish to prove that it couldn’t work for her. “I also fancied a week when I could eat all the “forbidden” things like meat, cheese, and cream, and not feel guilty. (‘See, I’m on a real diet.’) I was secretly terrified at the thought of all the weight I would gain by the end of the week,” Elaine confessed. But she decided to try it anyway. After all, what did she have to lose? Nothing else had worked, so why not?

“Wow!” Elaine exclaimed. “The food, the lack of hunger, the energy, the results!” All of these are brilliant! The downside would have to be the ketone breath, but it’s a price I’m prepared to pay.” Elaine is not sure why a low carbohydrate regime worked for her when other diets failed. “A dietitian said that it only worked because I had reduced the number of calories I was eating, and refused to accept my records showing that I eat twice the number now that I used to.” Evidently some old dogs can’t learn new tricks.

She Will Be Able to Maintain Low-Carb

Elaine feels this is a way of eating she will be able to maintain, saying, “I planned a ‘break’ on Christmas Day, but I managed to stay on course through the summer and my birthday! My 48-hour break cost me 2.15 kg. That’s nearly 5 pounds! I really did enjoy the indulgences, though. I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but I did, so that’s that!

I also came out of the holiday with a crop of “teenage acne” spots, something that I have been free of since the summer! I felt “heavy” and tired, and my arthritic knee is giving me hell. These are all symptoms that had subsided since I started this way of life, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when they reemerged, but it only took 48 hours for them all to come back! OK, that’s the end of the regrets. A few of the other holidaymakers, noticing my diet, asked me about it, and I was able to spread the Atkins gospel whilst abroad! One lady was very proud that she had lost 2 stones on a diet last year but confessed that she had gained most of it back. I told her about my loss, and she said she would get the book at the airport if she could!”

Elaine is hoping that the weight loss will help her back, but 57 lost pounds have not yet resulted in a decrease in her pain. “I’m still hoping, though,” she says. “I wore a pair of jeans recently, for the first time in YEARS! They fit, and a friend said they looked quite loose!!”

Dealing with Low-Carb Stalls

Elaine’s advice on stalling is: “Decide on a different diet and follow it religiously for a short time. I sometimes dream about fruit (Mmmm, melon, bananas, cherries, grapes, and pineapples!) I have decided that, if my “stall” arrives, as it surely will, I’m going to blitz my metabolism with a four-day fruit-only plan! I’m not doing it yet, you understand, just thinking ahead! But the good doctor even recommends that this can be a valuable thing, I seem to recall. If, by ‘inverting’ what I eat for a few days, but still being strict, I can do some good, then maybe it’s worth the gamble. If it does not do the trick, think of all the vitamins and fiber I’ll have taken in. And I guess I’ll have stayed low in calories (Ptah! Ptah! Who put such a dirty word on my lips?), so I shouldn’t feel too guilty about the intake. I don’t know if it will work, but a planned break, with a fixed duration, should be easier to control than an unplanned breakdown.”

Elaine is very satisfied with her results so far. “The rate of loss is slow but steady, and I’m eating enjoyably! Woooh! Do I feel good about myself! It really is noticeable, and the clothes are looser!”

Find Rewards That Are Not Food

Elaine makes a point of rewarding herself often. “Well, Lush sells the most delicious things, but they are all inedible!!! Bubble bath, bath bombs, soaps, shower gel, and even chocolate … chocolate massage bars, that is! Well, I treated myself, all right! Over £90 worth (around $150)! I returned home in a heavenly smelling car, and my bathroom is delicious, and I’m really looking forward to a long soak in the bath tonight! Real chocolates? Who needs ’em?”

Elaine lives alone, and her family is all some distance away. Her best friend (“Love him!”) bought her a huge box of chocolates to say thanks for something, but then apologized when she explained about the sugar in them. Her cats are quite happy…. lots of meat and meaty leftovers! Her GP is neutral about low carbing but thinks that weight loss, however it is achieved, is good. The Atkins support groups on the Internet have been her real lifeline, though, for ideas and support. “I am happy, not hungry, and feel great emotionally!”

Feedback has been positive and negative for Elaine. Her ex-boyfriend would tell her “don’t lose any more, I like you this size,” while some friends would say things like “it’s not safe, its the one that XXXXX (insert celebrity name) says almost killed her.” Other friends have said things like “Wow, I can really see a difference, is it safe to lose that quickly, though?” A select few very intelligent friends have asked, “Can I borrow the book?”

Elaine is a success story already, and a major one in the making! I look forward to an update from Elaine when she meets her goal. I’ll make sure all our readers get the update, too!

Great job Elaine, and keep up the great work! 

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