Like many people in the world, I own a scale that fluctuates a bit. The truth is my weight goes up and down like a teeter-totter at the playground. I exercise but my food choices cause exercising to be futile. In the 1990s, a friend who lost a lot of weight fast introduced me to the Atkins’ Diet. I tried it and it worked for me. Now I find myself going back down diet row.
A Little History
After I had my first child, I found myself 100 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. The pregnancy was very hard on my body and caused me to be hospitalized for three and a half months before my daughter had to be taken prematurely, 8 weeks early. I suffered from toxemia and eclampsia. My blood pressure was so high my doctor thought I was going to keel over from a heart attack.
Three and a half months of bed rest and a lack of activity wreak havoc on a body. Not to mention having family and friends bringing you comfort foods to eat while you lie in bed. When I had my baby, I had gained 60 pounds.
When I went home with my baby, I found out her biological father was cheating on me. I turned to food for comfort. By the time we were divorced, my weight had shot up an additional 40 pounds.
Now I was depressed and fat. I tried several fad diets like the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, and even popping diet pills. A good friend of mine was dieting at the same time and I noticed that while I failed miserably she thrived. I asked her what she was doing: Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution.
She explained the diet to me in simple terms: you eat meat and more meat with a little salad. You must reduce your carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams a day. You also have to exercise.
I could not believe she was giving me all the details so I ran to Wal Mart to buy Atkins' book myself. I started reading it and though it seemed crazy, it seemed it would work. After all, it worked for many people including my friend, it could work for me.
I perused the information I needed to know to get started. You have phase one, the induction phase, where you limit your carb intake to less than 20 grams a day. You eat mostly meat, any meat you like (proteins: Beef, Fish, Poultry, Shellfish, Eggs, and almost all Cheeses), these are free foods. You must check the carb content of everything you want to eat to ensure you do not go over your 20 grams a day. Some processed meats have hidden carbohydrates.
During the induction phase, you can have most vegetables, like salad lettuce and other veggies (Broccoli, Squash, Cauliflower, Beets, and so on). No Potatoes. Again, you do not go over a total of 20 grams of carbohydrate a day.
You can drink anything you want as long as it is caffeine and sugar free. (Though many types of liquor are carbohydrate free, the mixers you use may have carbs. Beer and wine both have carbs. Moreover, alcohol turns to sugar in your body. It is best just to avoid partaking in sprits during the induction phase.) You can have water, decaffeinated coffee or tea, herbal teas, and some diet sodas.
You must become acutely aware of labels and carbohydrate content.
You must keep your carb intake under a total of 20 grams
You cannot have bread, pasta, rice, or potato/potato products
You can eat certain fats like meat fat and real butter
You must take a good multivitamin to supplement your nutrition
Phase one lasts for 14 days. I came up with a plan to try it for the initial phase and see what happens. I developed a meal plan as suggested by the book and started my quest to lose 100 pounds. During the induction phase, I lost almost 15 pounds by eating as the book directed and walking for exercise. I was amazed. The most astonishing fact was I was not hungry between meals and I did not feel starved or deprived.
I must tell you this was not easy because the foods you eat while on Atkins's diet are not cheap. You cannot have a box of Mac and cheese or Ramen. Remember, at this point in my life, I became a single mom living on one income. I struggled through the financial aspect and lost the weight.
During the induction phase, you are forcing your body to go into ketosis. When you are in ketosis, your body is losing fat. You determine this by purchasing Ketostix and testing your urine to see if you are in ketosis.
After you finish phase one of the diet, you move to phase two, which is the ongoing weight loss phase. You gradually add carbs, 5 a day, until you find you are not burning fat anymore then you cut back the carbs to keep yourself in weight loss mode. You determine your weight loss carb intake by monitoring your urine with those ketostix.
When you are just about at your weight loss goal, you move to phase three. Here you add more carbs at a slow rate until you reach your goal and can maintain your efforts. They also call this the pre-maintenance phase. When you determine the amount of carbs you can take in a day without the scale going up, you keep your intake there.
The final stage of the Atkins' diet is phase four, or maintenance, at this point you know how many carbs you can have a day and you keep it at that level.
It took me about 8 months to lose those 100 pounds. I kept the weight off for ten years.
After the birth of my second child, I found I gained 20 pounds. It did not really bother me because my clothes still fit, though snug, and I was busy being a mom. I stayed the 20 pounds overweight because I became lazy with the maintenance phase and went over my optimal carb intake, sometimes a lot over. However, I never stopped exercising and walking. I suppose it was for that reason I kept it at only 20 pounds for some time.
Last year my husband had an accident that kept him home with me for four months. Day in and out we ate like pigs at a trough. Almost every night we would partake in a nice big bowl of ice cream. I was walking daily and figured I was working it off. He was just lying around and did not mind putting on weight. Beside, he could stand a few extra pounds and has a very high metabolism.
This was not the fact for me. We were planning a night out. I went to put on my favorite jeans (I had been donning elastic band sweats, draw-string loungers, or shorts) and the jeans that were once only snug could not even be zipped, let alone buttoned, and I broke a sweat jumping up and down to pull them over my rear. I ran to the scale to find I had packed on an additional 25 pounds!
Now I was angry with myself. I started amping up my workouts and walks. The weight was stubborn and refused to eradicate itself from my body. For whatever reason, I did not think to go back to the Atkins's way of eating.
While doing my spring-cleaning, I came across my Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution book. I blew off the dust and opened it up again. It seemed like just yesterday I bought the book. All the information was still in my memory; I had only temporarily forgotten what I had to do to stay on track.
I started the induction phase that day. Today, I am seven days into induction and have dropped over 5 pounds. My goal is to lose 40 pounds: the 20 pregnancy pounds and 20 of the binging pounds. I am still walking daily and exercising at least three times a week.
I have never stopped taking vitamins, so I am okay there. I bought ketostix to monitor my urine. Two days into phase one I was in ketosis. I went grocery shopping to stock up on the meats and veggies I will need. At the end of induction, I will update this review with my progress. I am older now so I do not think I will lose as much during phase one as I did the first time. However, I know I will lose the weight I need to lose in the end.
Mind you, the information I outlined here is only a general overview of the diet. There are many more facts, tips, and pieces of health information in the book. My first experience with the Atkins' diet prompted me to go it again. I decided to write this review because I am a believer, especially since I started the induction phase and lost 5 pounds right out the gate.
Atkins has a website and a newer version of the book. If you think you are interested in this diet, you should check out the Atkins' site. However, having the book is important because the information in it is much more detailed. I have not bought the new version of the book yet. This review is my personal experience with the earlier book, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, which you can get online for cheaper than I paid.
If you are having trouble losing weight, this may be the diet for you. I know no other diet worked for me like this one did. I will update you with my progress on my second Atkins journey.
Update On May 02, 2010: A little update on my progress with the Atkins diet. By the end of the induction phase, I shed 12 pounds. I decided to stay with the phase for another week and lost an additional 8 pounds. That is a total of 20 pounds and half way to my goal! I can definitely feel a difference in the way my clothes fit. In fact, I think when I reach my goal I will treat myself to some new clothes.
I started slowly adding more good carbs to my diet on April 29. My ketosis tests have gone from dark purple to a lighter pink. This is upsetting because the darker the color the more weight you lose. Given this, I may move back to phase one, if I do not continue to lose in the on going weight loss phase. Time will tell.
I will let you know how it goes.