Last week I had a contest on my podcast show where I asked people to share their real life stories of how livin' la vida low-carb has changed their lives. Three winners were chosen at random--Justin Wallraven, Maya, and Steve Whitley--for a complimentary copy of the DVD of the documentary My Big Fat Diet . CONGRATULATIONS to the winners! :)
The responses were so amazingly encouraging and uplifting that I just had to share them with the readers at my blog. Special thanks to each of the men and women who so openly shared and GREAT JOB on your success. Keep it up!
Justin Wallraven wrote:
Low carb has changed my life.
I’ve struggled with weight (and been on some form of diet) for as long as I can remember. For a long time, I assumed it was my own self-discipline that caused me to remain overweight. All that changed when my wife and I began seriously talking about having a baby. Not wanting to be the “fat dad,” I threw myself into what was “everyone knows” is the healthiest weight loss program. Weight watchers. I counted every point and never cheated. I lost about 12 pounds the first month but then my weight lost stalled.
I thought, “No problem. I’ll exercise.” I threw myself into an intense exercise program. I worked an hour and a half a day, 5 days a week. Exercise helped me lose about 4 more pounds…then the scale stopped moving downward for me permanently.
For 4 more months, I counted every WW “point” and exercised religiously. Despite my effort and dedication, I was horrified to find that not only was I NOT losing weight, I began to GAIN weight! Weight watchers was making me fatter! When I got back within about 5 pounds of my starting weight (despite my religious dedication to the diet and exercise program), I quit Weight Watchers.
I was incredible frustrated, but at least I now knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t my level of dedication that was keeping me over weight. The dedication was there. I just had bad information. That’s when I began reading about low carb.
Weight loss—for me—has always felt like an uphill battle. The analogy I like to use to describe it is pushing a rock up a steep hill. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and I know that if I slip up even once, the rock is going to roll right back over me, and I’ll be right back where I started (or worse.) Even if I could somehow find a way to lose weight, I knew that I would find it impossible to keep the weight off. It was just too hard.
Eating a high fat/low carb diet completely changed that. Losing weight still isn’t easy for me. I still have a few more pounds to lose, and I have to watch my carbs, portions and exercise (The trifecta!) in order to LOSE pounds, but now it’s possible when it wasn’t before!
However, the magic of a high fat diet—at least for me—is in the maintenance. I’ve lost over 55 pounds, and I find maintaining the loss to be effortless. I don’t even think about it.
I have found that when I keep my carbs low, I am unable to gain weight no matter how much food I eat, and remember, I’m the kind of guy who can LOOK at a donut and gain weight. Being able to eat as much as I want without gaining weight is a completely foreign concept!
For me, THIS is the miracle of a low carb/high fat diet and it has changed my life.
Dan (aka Renegadediabetic) wrote:
Low carb has also changed my life. I have always struggled with my weight and tried to follow the low fat dogma for close to 20 years. I always suffered from insatiable cravings, which drove me to overat. I would pig out on “health, complex” carbs with plenty of fiber, but they failed to satisfy me. I was just on a weight roller coaster and eventually ballooned up to 350+ lbs. I became so frustrated that I just gave up on trying to lose weight. I thought it was impossible.
Then I got my wake-up call after being diagnose with type 2 diabetes. I had to do something. In diabetes education, they told me to eat low fat, high “complex” carb. However, it soon dawned on me that they were telling me to do the same thing I had been doing before, which had failed me big time.
Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. I had to end the insanity and tried low carb. I was shocked to see that I was getting about 70% of my calories from fat, but I quickly got used to the idea. Fat is yummy and much more satisfying than carbs. Even though I now give myself permission to eat as much as I want, I find I don’t want as much and don’t eat as much. There are still some “mindless eating” situations, but I find it much easier to deal with them now that the cravings ar gone.
The results are that I’ve lost over 110 lbs to date. More importantly, my blood sugar has improved greatly and I have been able to get off some of my meds. I have adopted low carb, high fat as a permanent lifestyle and will never go back to my former way of eating (or my former weight for that matter.)
Amy Dungan wrote:
Low-carb has been my saving grace. Before starting my low-carb lifestyle I was an overweight, lethargic, depressed stay-at-home Mom who felt completely useless, hopeless and defeated. Keeping up with my two young children was a monumental task. I saw no hope for change. After being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, someone recommended I try a no-sugar diet. I started researching sugar-free diets and naturally it led me into low-carb diets. I was skeptical, but bought Dr. Atkins book and read it cover to cover. I was amazed. I felt like this might just be the answer I’d been looking for.
Since that day I’ve learned a tremendous amount about health and the benefits of low-carb dieting. I’ve lost weight, improved my health, and regained my life! My energy levels are high and my FMS pain is non-existent. Besides weight, I’ve lost Acid Reflux, IBS, joint pain, and my depression is under control WITHOUT medication. I enjoy living again!
I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. My emotional and mental state has improved beyond what I could have ever imagined. I have a self confidence that I don’t think I have ever had. Low-Carb has given me the courage to branch out and help others with their low-carb lifestyles. I now run a low-carb website, a low-carb blog, and help in various other capacities. It’s exciting to see others discover this amazing way of living. I’ve also gained the confidence to further my education and start my own business.
I simply would not be who I am today if it had not been for the low-carb lifestyle. I would still be sick, miserable, depressed, and scared of living life to it’s fullest.
I’m not sure which came first the depression or the fat. Regardless the loss of control I felt gaining weight for the first time in my life after a lifetime of being small was a huge jolt. I had always felt slim and beautiful and was if anything...cocky and suddenly I didn’t know who I was anymore. I came the low carb desperate. I was heavy, hadn’t dated in over two years and allowed myself to be hurt in far too many ways because I honestly felt I didn’t deserve better.
I gave up on my BA one unit shy because that tiny obstacle seemed so huge and I was tired of trying. I gave up three years smoke free. I never looked in the mirror or ate with my kids for the two years. As a single mom that was the worst, one time my kids asked why I never ate with them anymore and I just couldn’t admit the shame; I changed the subject.
Low carb made sense, it seemed to follow what my ancestors would have eaten. I made a false start once and it felt right but I wasn’t quite ready. While I wasn’t ready I knew I had found the key. I just wanted to do it right. I abandoned my effort after three weeks. Instead I choose to quit smoking three days before Christmas and caffeine a few days after all in preparation for low carb.
My official low carb start was February 5. That is what I would consider my new birthday. Not for physical reasons but because of all the emotional and life changes low carb has given me. I had never stuck to any diet more than a few weeks. This didn’t feel like a diet though; it felt like a new life.
Low carb showed me my own strength. It showed me that given the right tools I can succeed and that I can give those tools to myself. It helped me get ahold of my ADD and asthma when I ran out of health insurance and medication. Finding that inner strength allowed me to find joy in exercise for the first time in 10 years. I feel strong regardless of being assaulted not long ago.
It reminded me that I can overcome and achieve. My weight gain was full of emotion and as the weight comes off so do those emotions. I have began to shed hurt, pain, and confusion with every pound. I’ve also began to own my own body again.
On Saturday I graduate after 10 years of being in and out of school and having given up last year. In OCT I am taking the LSAT and applying to Law School. It sounds really over dramatic but Low carb reminded me of who I am. Everything suddenly became much easier because I knew I was committed and stronger than something that most people never overcome. Quitting smoking or applying to law school back east doesn’t seem so scary.
I am braver now. I guess Low Carb changed my life the way some Marathoners talk about that first race. So for me the gains emotionally have been far more that physical. I am in awe at the human capacity for strength and healing.
Teresa H wrote:
At the young age of 34 I had already been on every low-calorie low-fat diet out there. I was in poor health and getting fatter every year. Then once I started the low-carb high-fat lifestyle my life started to change. My health started to improve and the weight started coming off.
As a child, I loved beans and corn bread night! My grandmother used to tell us, “You better eat your beans because they stick to your ribs” (little did I know they really would stick to me!). Because of our wonderful diet I was over weight all my life. I remember going on my first diet the summer before my freshmen year in high school. I limited myself to 500 calories a day. I ran a mile in the morning and before bed.
During this time I also had summer Marching band practice and color guard drills all on 500 calories a day. I lost 25 pounds that summer just to regain it as fast as I lost it. So started my yo-yo dieting of starving and low-fat eating which lasted around 19 years and left me weighing a whopping 325 pounds.
In November 2007 I sat in my doctors’ office with type 2 diabetes, PCOS, high blood pressure and taking all kinds of medications for all my ailments. My doctor came into the room with my lab results shaking his head. He told me my results were not good and then went on to tell me that he was going to have to add another medication to my list because my cholesterol was high.
It was then I knew I was going to die if I did not make a change. The doc then told me that if he sent me to a dietician it will only make me sicker. I looked at him in shock. He then handed me a two page diet outline he wanted me to follow. After looking it over I realized he just told me to go on a low carb diet.
I went home, talked to my husband and started a new chapter in my life. Low-carbing was hard at first. I wanted bread so bad I could taste it. I started researching and joining low-carb support groups and cooking at home. It only took a few weeks to start feeling like me again. I started working out and coming home and eating bunless hamburgers with a side salad and low-carb pizza with loads of vegetables (which did feel a little strange at first). I was no longer hungry all the time and my blood sugar was under control. I also started having monthly menstrual cycles again and the weight was falling off.
Six months later I went to my doctor for a follow up appointment. My doctor was in shock! I had dropped 59 pounds, my blood pressure was normal my cholesterol was down and my Diabetes was under control. He took me off my medications for all my ailments and cut my Diabetic medication in half! My doctor told me I was his first diabetic patient to ever change there health around the way I had and that he wished he could have someone follow me around to see how I did it. I was thinking “What?”, “I am living the low-carb lifestyle like you told me” but he was out the door before I could say a word. The doctor was out in the hall telling his staff the great news! I was on cloud nine.
In conclusion, my new found low-carb high-fat lifestyle has taken me from a young dieing woman with uncontrolled Diabetes, PCOS, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, taking all kinds of medications and a whopping 325 pounds to a healthy young woman with controlled Diabetes, PCOS, only on one medication and down 59 pounds! Low-carb is my life and living this way will keep improving my health and help drop the pounds so that I will have a long and fulfilling life.
Taiwan gal wrote:
I am still new to the low-carb lifestyle. I stuck to a low-fat diet in my early 20’s, and managed to lose around 50 pounds. I hovered around 105 pounds for about many years, which wasn’t healthy, I know. But I loved being thin. Unfortunately, I lost my menstrual cycle for 9 years due to distance running, low body fat, and a messed up thyroid. My pituitary gland was “frozen,” according to the doctors, and I probably saw up to 30 different doctors during those 9 years.
Strangely enough, even though I still exercise a LOT, I have gained about 30 pounds in the last 3 years. I DID need to gain some weight…but I could stand to lose about 5 of those pounds. I would feel a lot better if I did. Since low-fat living wasn’t working for me anymore, I needed to try something else. Finding Jimmy’s web site has been a real eye-opener for me.
I have had a phobia of fat for as long as I can remember. Even now, it’s sometimes hard for me to acknowledge that fat is GOOD for me. But after 5 years of dealing with no menstrual cycle and infertility, I realized that my diet needed to change. I have always had a sweet tooth, and I know now that I can’t eat 3 brownies and then just “run it off.” It doesn’t work that way anymore.
Therefore, I am trying my hardest to live a low-carb life. I am also taking Chinese herbs to help get my body back in balance, and for the first time in NINE years, I have had several menstrual cycles ON MY OWN. (with no help from hormone shots or birth control pills). It is truly a miracle, and I think that a low-carb/ high-fat diet plus Chinese meds plus God’s mercy is the reason my body is slowly getting back where it should be.
I would like to give up sugar/flour/wheat for good, and I am taking steps in that direction. I hope someday I can bear my own children. I hope I can spread the news about low-carb living here in Asia, where I live. And I hope I can someday see the DVD, My Big Fat Diet, so I can continue to learn more about this life-changing way of eating.
Thank you for asking us to submit an essay, Jimmy. I enjoyed writing down my thoughts, and I hope I didn’t get too personal. But you’re always so transparent and REAL with us that I don’t think you’ll mind all the details. :)
I started getting interested in nutrition sometime around last year, as my family has a history of degenerative diseases, including Celiac Disease from my grandfather, Diabetes from my late grandmother, and a tendency to gain weight (both my parents). My father has also had problems with his appendix and gall bladder (both are now removed). I started researching nutrition in hopes of helping them and also not ending up like them.
My mom and youngest sister have started to adopt some of the things I tell them, although not as much as I think they should, especially my mom who still has some weight to lose. I’m not perfect either, as I don’t regularly have access to grass-fed meat and dairy and organic, local produce, and all that at the moment. Going low-carb has helped clear up my acne and relieve me of my insomnia and menstrual cramps though, and I’m extremely thankful for that. Little by little, we’re all getting healthier!
Nicholas Hahn wrote:
I was–and still am in the military–and while I could still pass the physical fitness tests, I could see that I was gaining weight, even though I really didn’t eat that much. Additionally, I ran on average 32 miles a week, but I was still 235 pounds. Obviously, there was a disconnect. I think I actually eat more now than I did when I was eating all the carbs, yet I weigh 30 pounds less. I knew nothing about hormones and all the effects they have on us.
I came across the Zone diet and learned about hormones, GI, GL, and how these things can affect not only how much fat we carry, but how hormone levels are probably better explanations for “diseases of civilization” than simply obesity. Then I read Taubes’ book. He was saying that all these diseases were the effect of probably one cause–carbohydrates and it all made sense. It was a revelation to me.
I started by cutting out all bread, jellies and cereal. Later, I cut out oatmeal. Now, I eat leafy greens, non-starchy fruits and veggies, and lots of meat and olive oil.
I’m not sure if all the science is true or not, but I’ve started suggesting to all my friends that they try it out. I tell them all the benefits: I don’t get food coma any more, I rarely get hungry, and I’m not overweight. My fasting blood sugar is 88, and my cholesterol is 128. I tell people those figures and they just play it off as genetic or because I exercise more than them.
I still can’t believe how long the high carb myth has persisted so long. I’ve gotten a few converts and hopefully I’ll get more. Thanks for your blog.
Steve Whitley wrote:
120 Pounds Down in 7 months!
At 345 pounds I would look in the mirror and feel that I wasn’t that overweight. I was just big boned you know. I figured out that walking down the stairs backwards was easier on my knees. Not because I was fat of course, but because I had arthritis in my knees. Hearing my stomach growl 15 minutes after eating a whopper and fries meant that it was time to eat again, goody! I had to listen to what my body was telling me to do so another trip to the drive through was called for. I avoided having my picture taken. not because I was fat, but because I wasn’t photogenic.
So many more examples, but then something clicked. I saw a picture of myself cooking dinner at a party and realized I wasn’t fat, I was OBESE! I got mad at myself. It wasn’t fair to my better half, I was letting her down. How could she stand being around me? I became embarrased at the way I looked. That’s what it took. None of that big and proud crap for me, I was a medical time bomb. High blood pressure, arthritis, allergies, anxiety, I had issues.
I looked on the web for weight loss information and soon found out about the evils of carbohydrates. I decided that I would start my journey by staying away from everything white - sugar, rice, pasta, white flour, and no more fruit juice either and the pounds started to come off. I got motivated and bought a “trainer” for the bicycle I owned. That’s a device that you attach to your bike to make it a stationary bike you can ride indoors. It was a struggle to do more than 10 minutes--my knees hurt, but I just kept them moving. It got easier after the fourth day. I would peddle for 15 minutes at a shot 3 times a day after eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. Luckily I have the luxury of being able to come home from work for lunch so it worked out well for me.
Then I stumbled across the Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast site. I listened for a couple of hours straight. It really kept me motivated and on track over the ensuing weeks. Following the advice I was hearing led to more weight loss with very little hunger cravings. This eating fat and protien idea really seemed to work for me.
I’ve lost 120 pounds, my allergies are gone, I’m off half the medications I was on. And the best part is it has seemed pretty easy, just stay away from carbs and move my body some everyday.
Jimmy, please keep up the great work. I’ve motivated about 5 other people so far to actually start a low carb weight loss program and use your site as a tool to keep them going. Great interviews an links on your site. Thanks!
P.S. My stomach hardly ever growls any more. That’s a good thing.
Wanna share your story? Please feel free to do so in the comments section below. And if you have a passion for sharing how low-carb living has changed your life, then consider sending your story to the American Diabetges Association , the United States Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association . These key health organizations need to know low-carb is working for real people. Let 'em NEVER forget this fact!