I've been on this forum for a year and a half, and have yet to post a success story, so here goes.
I'm putting the pictures at the end, because they don't tell you what was going on. They're not dramatic at all.
My strained relationship with food started early. From childhood, I've been a carb and sugar junkie. I grew up with poor, yet hardly abnormal, eating habits. I started struggling with depression in my early teen years, and I self-medicated it with either food or the lack thereof, in cycles. Whether it was junk food or "healthy" carb food, I was never able to moderate. Like many women, I morphed into the typical "professional" dieter - moody, isolated, obsessed
with food, never in particularly good health, and perpetually cold.
My first clue that I had a carb issue was around 1996, at age 23. I began to notice heart palpitations, and soon after that, noticed that they tended to happen after I ate carby foods. Clue number two was measurable hypoglycemia: I knew that everyone has sugar highs and crashes if they eat too much sugar, but I once had a glucometer check (courtesy of a diabetes presentation at the hospital where I worked) two hours after eating a bacon and egg sandwich, and it was 2.9 (about 50 mg/dL).
The nurse said, "wow, are you feeling okay?" I felt no crappier than I usually did. Frankly, I wasn't concerned enough about it to take any action. Life was busy and I ran on caffeine and adrenaline.
In late 2001, I found myself in very sorry shape from taking Depo-Provera. I gained over twenty pounds in only two or three months, my depression was worse than ever, and my acne worsened severely. My hands (and probably the rest of me) were markedly swollen. I had never had intestinal problems or PMS in my life, but both struck me suddenly and seriously, occurring for a full two weeks before TOM. The heart palpitations and hypoglycemic symptoms were happening constantly. To sum it up, my hormones were totally wrecked and so was my body.
I had heard of low carbing through a "Depo disaster" support group. The concept was that Depo can impair your glucose tolerance. I was skeptical, since I considered this a hormone problem, not a diet problem, but I was at my wits end and willing to try anything.
I found this forum in early 2002, and started out by eliminating "the white stuff:" obvious carb sources like flour, sugar, rice and potatoes. I started eating more protein, fat and vegetables. This alone eliminated the heart palpitations. I decided on the Protein Power plan, borrowed the book from the library, and away I went.
Within a few weeks, I felt incredible. I had more energy than I had had since I was a kid! The longer I did it, the better I felt: my moods and acne improved dramatically, and the PMS disappeared within a few cycles. My hair and skin looked healthier, and my nails now *grow*. I'm not perpetually cold anymore, and the food obsession is gone: if anything, I forget to eat sometimes.
My immune system is amazing: the only colds I've had since LCing have been breif and bearable. Colds used to knock me on my butt for at least a week - now, they last only for a few days and I still have energy.
So: that pesky Depo weight is gone. It took a few months. But as you've read, that's not the success story. Success for me has been taking control of my life for the first time, and being healthier than I've ever been while eating *incredible* food!
Maintenance, for the most part, is a breeze. I eat anywhere from 30-80 g of carbs per day. I could probably handle more, but I simply don't bother. I'm happy with the food I eat at that level. My key to maintenance success is settling into a routine with respect to my favorite foods, while still having enough variety that I'm never bored. I'll never stop learning and experimenting. I've since read several other LC books, including Atkins New Diet Revolution, Atkins for Life, and "How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet..." by Dana Carpender. I've also gone from not even knowing how to boil an egg, to being a whiz in the kitchen!
Success didn't happen on one particular day. I technically still haven't hit my ultimate goal weight, since I'm too lazy to work out and really crack the whip on myself. I've fallen off the wagon a couple of times, and had all of those hormonal symptoms come crashing back down on me. But the course of my life took a sharp turn when I started low carbing, and even though I'm sure I'll struggle sometimes, I'm still an evolving success story.
My advice for others:
- Be sure to literally remove all barriers to your success. Get the junk food out of the house and have strategies for dealing with potential temptations. Learn to say no to others.
- Prepare and plan ahead. Cook ahead of time and keep lots of snacks on hand.
- Say goodbye to the junk food, even LC junk food - don't try to recreate it. It's expensive, it's a hassle, it maintains the cravings, and it's almost universally disappointing. Instead, embrace the fact that LCing is meant to consist of whole foods wherever possible. I have the occasional Atkins bar or treat, but it's definitely not a habit.
- Get the right attitude. Have patience and a sense of appreciation for the high quality of food you're eating, and the respect you're now showing to your body. This isn't a crash diet, and there's no reason to believe that the weight is just going to slide off. Plateaus, even gains, will happen and it's normal. Get on with life in the meantime. If you're frustrated, perhaps you need to improve the quality of your food and exercise. There's no reason to dislike either of those things. If your food is great and you feel better than you have in years, it shouldn't make any difference to you whether or not the scale stalls for a while.
Here are the pictures: