Thursday, January 05, 2006

Atkins Works!

I have lost 40 pounds and feel GREAT! 2 years ago I didn't have any time to exercise and just kept gaining weight even though I thought I was eating healthy. My dad has diabetes type 2 and I could see I was heading that way if I didn't do something. So I called a friend and asked him to tell me about Atkins. I was VERY skeptical and figured at least it would get my weight off and I could go from there, I just had to get the weight off.

I've been doing Atkins for almost 2 years now. It DOES work! I don't feel like I'm missing foods I enjoy like you do on some diets. His book is excellent and explains how things work in your body, especially how sugar and carbs turn into fat. He does have a lot of success stories that I could have done without - I mean by the 10th one I get it that this works.

One thing is Atkins is not a NO carb diet, it is LOW carb. Basically he says people today eat way too many carbs. After starting this, I added up the carbs I was eating and it was almost 10 times what he says to eat. Things like eating a whole bag of chips instead of a few with a good meal. As he says, this is not a diet but a different way to eat for life. I wasn't exactly eating healthy, but I am now - not just lower carbs, but as I mentioned, not eating a whole bag of chips for a meal.

It's not just about eating tons of meat or protein, it's about eating healthy and eating less - only what your body needs, not until you can't move.

There are three phases.
  1. Very little or no carbs for the first two weeks. He wants you to do this to prove to you that you can lose weight doing this.
  2. 20-30 carbs a day while you are losing weight. When you are within 10 pounds of your target weight, you start upping the carbs to find your breaking point, if you eat more than X carbs you'll gain weight, less you'll lose weight. These last 10 pounds can take several months to come off. Oh, and set your weight loss goal to something you want. If you're 100 pounds overweight, don't set your goal for 10 pounds, set it for 80-100.
  3. Lifetime eating. Now you are at the weight you want to be at. Your carbs/day have gone up from 20-30 to whatever your breakeven point is - for me it's about 120. If you have a party coming up, you can eat less carbs a few days before or after so you can pig out that day.
Microbrewed beer (actually pretty much all beer, but real beer has more carbs) is a no-no on Atkins. Sorry, I like beer and when I drink beer, I'm going to drink good beer. I don't drink it as often as I did, but I still enjoy going out with friends and having several beers and good greasy food like pizza or burgers. I don't take the bun off the burger or scrape the toppings off the pizza, I like that part. But I don't have burgers or pizza every day.

In his book he also says to not have sugar in the house, or if you're at a birthday party and someone hands you a piece of cake to either say, "No thanks" or to set it down somewhere. Sorry, I like cake A LOT! I have a HUGE sweet tooth and I'm going to eat a piece, I might even have two. But I'm not doing that every day. Once in awhile is ok. And that's one of the big things I've discovered, indulging yourself now and then is ok, I was doing it WAY too often. I LOVE chocolate chip cookies and was eating several a day - like 4-8. Once again, not only was I eating too many carbs, but I wasn't eating that healthy.

There is one big secret to making Atkins work, and it's something I find many people who try Atkins and fail aren't doing - EXERCISE!!! He says this all over the place in his book! 60 minutes a day, even just something as simple as walking. If you can't do 60 minutes in one shot, do two 30 minute sessions. I run 5 miles ever other day. I'm not fast, doing 9-10 minute miles, but it's a good consistent pace, I'm not out of breath (which is important - if you're out of breath you are burning muscle not fat, you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising). Many people I talked with who've done Atkins said they weren't exercising. So they lost the weight, but their metabolism was still in the couch-potato state, they eat extra carbs and their body just stores it instead of burning it.

I stopped running for about 6 months for all kinds of stupid reasons. After 6 months I found if I ate more than 60 carbs a day I was gaining weight. Started running again and quickly I was back to being able to eat 120+ carbs a day without gaining weight. AND there are all kinds of other great things about exercising, like all the good endorphins you release which make you feel better. If you've had a bad day, doing some exercise can help you relax and feel better. You might still be upset, but won't be a volcano ready to blow.

As I said, I was EXTREMELY skeptical of Atkins, there have been tons of diets with each having people showing they lost 200+ pounds and feel great, yet most people fail on them. My wife and I looked into LA Weight Loss and they wanted us to eat a lot of fish, no meat. We both HATE fish and they wouldn't change our diet, they just kept saying, "Tough, eat fish," so we didn't do that.

I am now a big believer in Atkins, not only because it has worked for me for almost 2 years, but also from reading his book and learning how the body handles food - and that sugar is sugar, meaning fruit has sugar in it called fructose, which to your body is the same as the sugar in candy and cookies.

Oh and the other big complaint I hear is, "I don't want to look at labels on products all the time." or, "I don't want to count carbs." Believe me, I didn't want to either. But I did and very quickly it was easy to know how many were in things. Most candy bars have about 30-40 carbs. Oh, and speaking of candy bars, the important thing on all carbs is SERVING SIZE. A Hershey's chocolate bar has about 33 carbs and the serving size is 1 bar. But each bar comes in 4 sections. So you can have one little section to get your chocolate fix (yes, I know how tough that is!) and you've only had 8.2 carbs. Starting wasn't easy for me because I LOVE candy, and cutting that out took about a month. But I did because I didn't want diabetes and wanted this to succeed. Now that I'm at my target weight, I do have candy now and then, just not as much as I used to, like 1-4 bags of peanut M&M's a day. ;)

ANYHOW, sorry for the long post, I just like to get the word out that Atkins works if you do it right, meaning it's LOW carb, and EXERCISE! If you've tried other diets and nothing has ever worked, go get his book and do it, you won't be sorry. Just remember to exercise or you'll be complaining this was another thing that didn't work.