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The Last Low-Carb Eater: Part 2

November 20, 2009

The Atkins diet is really quite simple: no counting calories or fat grams, no weighing food or figuring out “points.”  You basically just have to know what has a lot of carbs and what doesn’t, and what foods will set off cravings for sugar.  No ketchup on your bunless burger, no cornstarch in your stiry fry, no breading on the chicken breast, no sugar in your salad dressing.

I was a quick study at what I should and should not be eating.  And how I loved turning my Ketostix purple!  I will admit the first three or four days were not fun.  I had the “Atkins Flu” big time as my body transitioned from feeding off of lots of simple carbs to using my fat stores for fuel.   My hands were shaking, I felt weak and lightheaded.  I constantly craved sugar (even though I had not previously had a sweet tooth) and starch.  My body literally was going through withdrawal.  The book talked about this and I wanted to push through and see what would happen on the other side.

After those first few days I was amazed at how I felt.  I had so much more energy.  Gone were the post-meal tireds.  My cravings for sugar and starch dissipated.  And I started losing weight.  My little pot belly went away, my clothes fit better.  Sure, eating out at restaurants or at people’s homes was sometimes a challenge (one of my  friends said she needed to join a support group for friends of people on Atkins), but if I planned ahead, it generally worked out.  Whatever the hassle, it was worth it measured by how I felt.  (This was also at the height of low-carb diet popularity so more and more eating establishments were adding low-carb option to their menus.)

I will confess that I am not always a good girl on the Atkins diet.  While I am committed to eating low-carb becasue it is how my body feels best, sometimes I cheat with a handful of potato chips or a square of dark chocolate.  Over the years I have been able to do this without triggering a full blown sugar relapse.  And sometimes I just really want to eat “regular” food.  What is the point of going to the State Fair if you can’t eat the roasted corn-on-the-cob or tasty french fries?  How can I cross state lines to visit my mother for Thanksgiving and not enjoy her deep-fried battered chicken?  How am I supposed to bake 6 different kinds of cookies for Christmas and not taste the results of my new recipes?  Yes, I cheat, but I always come back to Atkins.

Two years ago I was at my highest weight ever: 140 pounds (I shiver just typing that!).  I had suddenly gone off my diet for some reason or another and didn’t realize how quickly the weight would come back.  Because eating very low-carb throws your body into ketosis, a state in which your body believes it is starving (which leads to it burning fat for fuel), suddenly adding lots of simple carbs prompts your body to store it all as fat for any future “famine.”  That is why it is so important to gradually introduce carbs.

I needed to go hardcore.  Once I rededicated myself to Atkins, I lost a whopping 20 pounds in just a few months.  I felt wonderful.  I bought a whole new wardrobe 3 sizes smaller than what I had been wearing.  I gave away all my “fat clothes” determined to never let myself get that big again.

Today, I have put on a few pounds once more.  I had been in a prolonged state of ketosis for months at a time and neither gaining nor losing weight.  I started cheating more and more and finding more reasons to stop my diet.  It can be frustrating when you are not allowed to eat so many things yet you see no results.  Granted, I still felt better eating low-carb, but I wasn’t seeing the pounds melt away as I had before.  I’m sure I’ve reeked habit with my metabolism with all the stop/ starting of my diet and I really need to buckle down again.  I am hovering around 130 and I really want to get back to 120 or even 115.

Now that the low-carb craze has ebbed, I often feel like I am the only one left who still cares how many carbs are in a tablespoon of salad dressing.  That’s fine:  I like being a rebel.  I know this diet works for me when I do it correctly and I know I feel better eating low-carb.  So after Thanksgiving, Atkins: here I come!  Again!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2009 5:22 pm

    I’ve always had great success on Atkins! Back when I first started doing it, you just read the book and did what is said.

    These days you can go to and find lots of additional tips, recipes, motivational stories, yada, yada. You can even buy Atkins Baking Mix to make bread and pancakes!

    You have me thinking that I need to get back on it, too (but after the first of the year, for me).

    Good luck, Maija!

    • mjjaaska permalink*
      November 20, 2009 11:07 pm

      Thanks Cindy! I used to buy up all the Atkins products back in the day too. Sad that they have stopped producing so many items due to the decline in popularity of their “nutritional approach.” Nowadays I drink the protein shakes for breakfast and occasionally nibble on one of the “chocolate” bars. Good luck to you as well! We will have to keep each other posted on our progress and motivate one another!

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