I get questions from time to time as to why I eat a low carbohydrate diet and whether or not its healthy. Let me start by saying, if all you know about LC is what you’ve heard from the media or your friend’s sister’s cousin who used it as a crash diet and gained all their weight back afterward, please go to my post what-is-low-carb to read my article on it and to see a non-diet specific food list. A low-carb diet is not a no-carb diet, there is a large abundance of vegetables, fruits, nuts and flours that are eaten with this lifestyle; and it is a lifestyle not a fast way to lose weight.
With that out of the way I feel it would be helpful if I dropped some of my anonymity and told my past history. I’m 21+ and I have been on diets most of my life. Not only was I the only overweight kid in my kindergarten class, I was also the fattest kid in my entire school. I was also the 2nd tallest student until I was around 13 (my older brother being the tallest). I developed first and at the time I had a broader build than either of my brothers. To put it simply, I was a walking complex.
My weight was getting so out of hand that during my early teens I was put on a doctor monitored low fat/low calorie diet for two months. I ended up gaining 11 pounds and my cholesterol and insulin levels rose to an alarming high. I did everything I was told to do but instead of trying to figure out why their methods failed they called me a liar and lazy. I had a lot of health problems that they also ignored. It seemed like I was always sick yet instead of doing tests to find out what might be causing my problems the doctors told my parents that I was sick of school and to ignore me. After a lifetime of this kind of treatment I think it’s obvious why I hate doctors.
After failing to lose weight with what I thought were many of the healthiest options I decided to starve myself. For almost 3 years I hide what I was doing but I only managed to slow the gain and at best maintain my weight. I was only eating one small meal a day and that was dinner with my family, however because my family was low-income we didn’t have much money for food, so we mainly had a plate of starch with a little bit of protein and vegetables. Looking back, this isn’t even a good diet for a healthy person let alone someone with medical problems but at the time it was all we had. Years later I figured out that I didn’t lose weight because I had been insulin resistance since childhood and by my late teens I was pre-diabetic. Tack on to that the fact that I wasn’t giving my body enough calories to survive, so it was trying to keep me alive by storing what little I did eat.
After failing with ‘the sure thing’ I gave up trying to lose weight and gained even more and faster then before. Everyone started insisting that it was genetics and nothing could be done about it. I started to believe them and decided I should learn to be happy with what I was because things were only going to get worse. I tried to pretend I was okay and that I didn’t care about being overweight but I wasn’t. I constantly felt horrible and I hated how I looked. I was withdrawn; after losing my only real friend I quit speaking to anyone, especially other students who typically only spoke to me when they wanted something or to insult/prank me. The only feelings I even seemed have at that point were server depression and anger. Despite being active in kickboxing I graduated from high school at my highest weight of 298 lbs.
Sometime after graduation my mom was reading a magazine and saw an article on PCOS. Most of my symptoms were listed and it was obvious that this is what I had. Testing proved it and I was told to start a low carb diet immediately. The woman, who the original article was about, said she lost her weight on the Atkins diet. My mom pulled out a copy that she had bought years ago but my dad refused to let her use because he believed it was unhealthy. As compared to being almost 300lbs? My mind still reels at that illogical conclusion. I figured I had tried everything else and might as well give this a chance.
In the first month I lost 20 pounds, the first time I had ever lost a significant amount of weight. After that there was between a 5-10 pound loss each month. At one point I had managed to get down to 228. However my father passed away after a long battle with cancer and between working at a job I hated and helping my mom I started to slip back into eating the comfort foods that caused my weight problem. I yo-yoed between eating that way and halfheartedly trying to stick to a low carb diet for a couple of years before I started getting serious about it again. After failing at “normal” diets again I decided to restart a low carb diet mid-2010 and I’ve currently relost most of the weight I had put back on. Regulars are already aware that I’m having more issues this time with unstable hormones and stubborn fat but I still believe this is the best option for me. I’ve tried many things over the years to lose weight; starvation, low-calorie, low-fat, vegetarian, diuretics, crash diets, but the only thing that is taking it off and keeping it off is a low carb diet.
So while I thank all of you who offer me suggestions, and I really am glad you’re thinking about me and my health, I won’t use them. I already have what works for me. If something else does it for you I’m thrilled on your behalf but I have a lifetime of tries behind me to know what does and doesn’t work with my body. I have low blood-pressure, normal blood sugar levels, normal cholesterol and predictable cycles. With the exception of my hormones I am completely healthy now. While I’m still trying to lose fat, my main goal is to maintain my health and I plan to do so the way I obtained it, a low carbohydrate diet and enjoyable workouts.