2013 vs. 2016 - I like the new look
I’ve been wearing my goal jeans for 6 months now. I did lose 250 pounds. I am no longer obese. I beat Type 2 diabetes and reclaimed my health. But does this make me a success story? IMO – it kind of depends on how you measure success. Losing that amount of weight is unreal, especially to me. I never thought it would happen. For 30 years I have been a great loser. I’ve been even better at gaining it all back and then some. I have lost and regained well over 1000 pounds throughout the years, but never more than 90 pounds in any one attempt. Back in 1983 I lost 70 pounds and even reached my goal weight. I then returned to eating ‘normal’ food. That is what dieters do, right? I’d reached goal and the diet was over. The plan was to keep the weight off with portion control, periodic dieting and lots of exercise. That worked OK for a while. However, once I finished college and got married, my weight shot up to over 300 pounds within a few years and I’ve remained morbidly obese ever since; until recently, anyway. So if I manage to keep the weight off this time it will truly be a first. That is the plan, however. It is a pretty lofty goal. Will I succeed or will this ultimately end in another diet failure? Only time will tell. For my success story to have a happy ending, I can’t let failure be an option.
I do like my odds for success this time. On this last weight loss journey I’ve learned a few things that I didn’t know before, including why low carb is the right diet for me. I also had something monumental happen early on in the process. After this unexpected turn of events I realized that I was finally on the right path. That was my aha moment. Doubt changed to confidence. Dieting became easy. My chances for reaching a normal, healthy weight went from almost nil to being a near certainty. I didn’t comprehend it at the time, but this was when I truly attained my goal. It wasn’t reaching a number on the scale. It was about finding the right path. In many ways, this is when I became a success story in progress. And that was more than two years ago when I still weighed 365 pounds.
On the surface, the Atkins like
low carb diet that I have been doing since February 2014 is not much different than all the other low carb diets that I failed at throughout the years. What is different? This time I was not “going on a diet” in the same way that I had always done before. I set off from the start to make this diet a lifestyle. I accepted, somewhat grudgingly, that I was going to have to walk away from many of my favorite foods. I adopted one new rule: NO CHEATING, EVER! I expected it to be hard. I only hoped that I would someday get used to it. I had my doubts.
Just before I started this most recent diet attempt I saw a report on the evening news about the rare individuals that have lost a significant amount of weight and actually managed to keep it off. The story referred to them as “Super Dieters”. I found a text version of that original news story here…
'Super Dieters' Share Their Six Weight-Loss Tips
I didn’t agree with everything in the story, but I did grasp a couple of meaningful takeaways from it. The story was about survey data gathered by the National Weight Control Registry. They have been tracking thousands of long term dieters over a period of more than 10 years. This data showed that for the obese (those with more than 30 pounds to lose) traditional dieting always fails in the long run. The diet had to become a permanent lifestyle change to succeed. The story went on to say that the “Super Dieters” – the ones that do succeed - share a few common traits. They listed the top 6. Rule number 1 was NO CHEATING. Gulp! I’d never done dieting that way before. It was pretty sobering to realize that all those diets I had done over the past few decades were wasted efforts doomed to fail. It wasn’t just me. Going on a temporary diet does not work for anyone who is obese. So that’s it then. I realized that if I wanted to succeed – and I did – then I needed to do what those “Super Dieters” were doing.
That story helped me take my first step onto the path for success. This was a new day. I latched onto rule number one and started my LCHF lifestyle. Would it work? I didn’t know. But I weighed 440 pounds and I didn't have anything (besides the obvious) to lose . Once started it still felt like a diet. I didn’t like it. I had always found dieting hard and this was still hard. I felt deprived just like I always did. I craved the old favorites that I wasn’t allowed to eat. Still - I stuck to it. I stayed on plan day after day. I didn’t cheat. I lived by my rule number one no matter what came up. Days on plan became weeks on plan. Weeks turned to months. The first 50 pounds was gone in no time. At least I had that to enjoy. I was actually doing what I set out to do. But as the weeks went by, the diet was getting harder – not easier. My willpower was running low.
What happened next was a nothing short of a miracle. Putting in time on plan started to pay dividends. A major paradigm shift began to occur. My endless cravings for sweets and processed junk food started to fade. The addiction was BREAKing. In fact, it was only then that I realized that processed carbohydrates truly are addictive and I was a carb junkie. Sugar addiction is real and that is what had made sticking to a diet so hard. I started to feel less deprived. I stopped missing my old favorite foods so much. Carbs were losing their power over me and I was enjoying my “diet” food like never before. Low carb foods were becoming my new favorite foods. This was definitely something good. I felt so healthy, too. What was going on? Was my brain rewiring itself and embracing the healthy foods that I was now eating? It sure was. My persistent “dieting” had morphed into a true lifestyle change. This was all totally unexpected. It kind of freaked me out (in a good way). After this happened I knew that I could sustain this lifestyle. The diet wasn’t so hard anymore. What I was eating everyday just seemed like normal food. From that point on I realized that I would eventually reach a healthy weight. I had no doubt, provided I didn’t do something foolish to mess it up. All I had to do was to stay true to my new way of eating. So far I’ve done just that.
I still had cravings from time to time. I had fond memories of pizza, bread, candy bars and donuts. As time went by, the pull of carbs continued to fade. Now they are just a distant memory. I don't need them. Moreover, I now blame those foods for my situation. Low fat, sugar loaded, fibreless processed food is bad food. It is seriously addictive. I was like an alcoholic is with the bottle. I was hooked. Eating that junk made me sick. It hammered my system with sugar and broke my metabolism. It made me fat. It pulled me down the road to diabetes and a myriad of other health problems. Eating good food everyday cured me. It is that simple.
Within months of starting this WOE I got healthy. I used the diet to figure out how I needed to eat. I received terrific support and inspiration from my friends here on this forum. It took 30 months to lose all the weight. Did I then go back to eating 'normal' food? No way. After reaching my goal weight, nothing about my diet changed. I’m still eating low carb. I know that I have to stick with it if I do not want to regain. I’m now living my life again. Three years ago only pride was keeping me from being one of those unfortunate soles cruising around in a motorized shopping cart at Walmart. Today I can climb mountains. I won’t go back. I simply must do all that I can to stay healthy and keep the weight off. So I am low carb for life.
So in some ways I see myself as simply a big loser. That is what I have achieved thus far. I am only a few bad decisions away from disaster. The road back to obesity is never far away. Keeping the weight off long term is the measure of success that I am looking for. The fact that I found the right path and have remained on that path for nearly three years so far is encouraging. I do like how I eat. I love being healthy again. If I just keep doing what got me here I should be OK. I’ll stay on the path. Down the road my story will be a success story. The journey continues.
I was one of those people who thought that they could never live without bread. Give up candy forever and miss out on one of the great joys of life? I didn't think I could do it. I didn't want to do it. I didn't think I had to do it. And 99 out of 100 doctors, nutritionists, family, friends, and joe blow on the street would be happy to confirm those beliefs. Moderation is the key. Well, guess what? In this case the 99% are wrong. I had to stay away from the junk to finally find success. I faced the music and I did it. Rule number 1 worked.
One interesting note about that "Super Dieters" story: I only recently discovered that story again in preparation for this post. I had adopted rule number 1 and forgotten the rest of those common traits. I reread that list only to discover that I do all of them. I eat BREAKfast. I weigh daily. I walk regularly and watch very little television anymore. I can only guess on that last one as I don't know how much other people eat. I suspect that I'm doing OK. I can't say that all of these things are essential for success. But I was a little surprised that those traits fit me like a glove. Perhaps it isn't a coincidence.
Here is another set of Before, During, and After photos:
Before: I was diabetic and did not know it. I was not a healthy man.
During: What can I say? Living and loving life again.
After: Fat & Happy. How can that be? I was finally on the right path.
You might think that I posted my "During" and "After" photos in the wrong order. I did that on purpose to make a point. The after photo is me 5 months into this WOE. That guy had just spent 7 hours walking around Washington DC. He'd recently gone to the doctor and found out that he was no longer testing as diabetic. The "event" had occurred and he knew that he'd found the right path. He was a happy man. As he sat there he knew that this day would come. He would reach his goal weight. The diet had become how to eat for life. Before this turning point I was still addicted to junk food and resisting temptation daily. After the 5 month mark I was free and I knew that I had found my key to success. But knowing what I know means that this journey will never end. So I made my "during" photo one of me in action. I climbed a mountain this past summer. I hope that I will have many other great "during" photos to share as I continue down the path.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, then you need to do what I did. Don't tell me that you can't do it. I know better. Do it. Do low carb all the way
for 6 months. Free yourself from the carbs. After that anything is possible. Just do it. You won't regret it.
For more information about my journey, please see my other milestone links and the link to my Journal below:
P.S. I learned a new trick recently. I can tie my shoes from a standing position! Not impressed? Try not being able to do it for 25 years. This is just one of a thousand ways that I got my life back.
And one more thing...
I dusted off of the old windsurfer and took it for a spin this past summer. I didn't sink it