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The Last Low-Carb Eater: Part 1

November 19, 2009

I first tried the Atkins diet about 8 years ago.  Like most Americans, I was constantly on the lookout for a weight loss/maintenance plan I could stick to.  I had never really “dieted” before, just simply cut back on calories if I needed to shed a pound or two.  I realized in my early 30’s that cutting back on calories no longer produced the dramatic weight loss results that doing so did in my 20’s.

When I graduated from high school I was 5’3″ and 100 lbs.  I was a tiny thing.  I maintained that weight (and sadly, that height) within a 10 pound range throughout college.  I was used to eating pretty much whatever I wanted without having to worry about packing on the pounds.

I initially started gaining noticeable weight when I had my first serious 9-5 job at the age of 25.  I was working in downtown Minneapolis and the variety of food selection around me was unprecedented.  I had never been a regular breakfast eater, but now here is this tiny shop on the next block that has homemade donuts:  I think I’ll have one of those chocolate covered numbers every morning!  Lunch used to be a sandwich or soup, but here is this little restaurant across the street with delicious mexican food:  enchiladas and tacos every day!  Egg rolls!  Grilled cheese!  Frozen yogurt!  French fries!  It didn’t take long for my waistline to start expanding.

No longer could I shove whatever I wanted into my burrito hole and maintain my petite size.  To be sure, I still wasn’t more than 115 or 120 pounds, but for me that was a dramatic change.  In order to lose that extra weight I simply consumed less:  gone were the donuts and burgers; back to soup and leftover rice for lunch.  I still ate what I wanted for the most part, just less of it.

Over the next several years, each time I wanted to lose a few pounds I would try to eat less.  Each time it became more and more difficult.  I felt that I had to practically starve myself to see any results.  Then, the Atkins diet started getting a lot of media attention.  Here was a diet that said you could eat until you were satisfied, as long as it was the right food.  And it wasn’t about celery sticks and pineapple juice, it was real food.  I realized how much of my diet consisted of simple carbohydrates: I was living off of potatoes, bread, salty snacks, crackers, white rice, pasta and fruit juice.   I rarely ate protein and vegetables did not hold a starring role in my diet.  Once I read the Atkins book it became clear to me why I was having such a hard time losing weight:  but would I be able to make the switch to protein, low in sugar vegetables, and complex carbs?  I’d been eating one way my entire life:  would I be able to make such a drastic change?

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