Sunday, June 04, 2006

Don't Lose Your Focus When Maintaining Low-Carb Weight Loss

Jim Six shed 60 pounds on low-carb, but lost his focus when maintaining

I found this New Jersey-based Gloucester County Times op-ed piece the other day and could certainly relate with what the man who wrote the column communicated about trying to maintain the low-carb weight loss he had attained.

Jim Six, a newspaper columnist and singer/songwriter as his personal blog so aptly describes him, has felt the one-of-a-kind thrill of low-carb weight loss victory, but is now experiencing the agony of diet failure (and the resulting weight gain!) defeat.

Can I be honest with you? That is a REALLY sucky place to be in. I mean, you work your butt off for months and months to lose weight by eating all the right foods and getting in the exercise your body needs to be a lean, mean fitness machine. You're rockin' and rollin' along in your weight loss and get in a nice groove watching the pounds and inches melt away like butter in a skillet. There is absolutely no better feeling of accomplishment in the whole world.

Once the weight is off, though, what happens to the that amazing thrill of watching the scale go down? What motivates you to continue eating the way you are supposed to when you are livin' la vida low-carb when there doesn't seem to be a reward for your efforts? How do you keep from becoming a part of the 95% of people who gain their weight back after being on a diet? Is there ANY hope for mankind in the battle of the bulge?

That is exactly what Jim Six faced after losing 60 pounds on what he describes as the "controversial Atkins diet," although it sounds like he did the media version of the diet since he ate "bacon and sausage" all the time. Perhaps he did actually read Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, but I would venture to guess he didn't.

Regardless, the low-carb plan he embarked on "worked like a charm" because he had someone who would cook foods that would help him remain committed to low-carb eating. For snacking, he ate low-carb candy bars to help ward off hunger between meals and his intense dedication to this way of eating paid off for him in the end.

"I looked great. I felt great. I tossed out all my fat-man clothes," Six wrote in his column. "I swore I'd never wear anything that big again. I wasn't exactly ready for a Speedo on the beach, but my Hawaiian shirt collection grew."

There is no better feeling in the entire world than the exhilaration that comes from accomplishing weight loss. When I lost 180 pounds on the Atkins diet (yes, the real one as prescribed by Dr. Robert C. Atkins in his books) in 2004, it was arguably the greatest achievement of my life. I had never worked so hard to be successful at something like I did that year I lost all my weight.

I, like Jim Six, looked great, felt great and got rid of the overpriced big & tall clothes I had collected over the years with waist sizes 20+ inches bigger than I was after losing weight. Man, what a feeling that is!

But then came what becomes the real challenge for most of us -- KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF!

For me, it has been relatively easy to keep the weight off because I have kept on livin' la vida low-carb over these past couple of years since I lost my weight. Even still, I admit it is very difficult to stay 100% focused when you no longer have the thrill of an 12-pound weight loss in a week to get you through to another week. But as tempting as it can be to slack off once you've lost weight, it is extremely important that you don't lose your focus while on low-carb maintenance.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what Jim Six did when he essentially "stopped dieting." He said that he "just gave up one day without giving it much thought."

What happened to that faithful companion who cooked low-carb meals for you, Jim? Did she stop doing that for some odd reason? Perhaps she no longer lives with you and you allowed old habits to rear their ugly head again. :(

Predictably, he "noticed the pounds start to creep back on" and then went on the rollercoaster ride of loss, gain, loss, gain some more. I would assume he stopped livin' la vida low-carb during this phase as his weight kept rising and rising.

While I have noticed some weight gain this year (about 12 pounds) for the first time since I began my low-carb lifestyle on January 1, 2004, I refuse to allow it to defeat me. I have stepped up my game plan to lick this slight weight gain long before it gets as out of control as what Jim Six is going through. My plan includes eating more salad greens and berries while paying very close attention to every carbohydrate that enters my mouth. Quality carbs and food is the name of the game and no junk is allowed to cross these lips.

From a workout standpoint, I've also noticed I have become somewhat complacent lately. If I'm doing the elliptical machine and feel crappy after 20 minutes (burning about 350 calories), then I have been stopping. But NO MORE! In fact, I went 65 minutes on the elliptical today and burned a whopping 1250 calories! My goal is to burn a bare minimum of 800 calories DAILY at the gym and I refuse to stop unless I start to throw up or feel dizzy. I WILL DO THIS!

This sudden weight gain is unacceptable to me and I am going to defeat this with the same determination that helped me lose 180 pounds to begin with! Although I have grown a little lax in my low-carb lifestyle, I am rededicating myself to start being even more serious about what I need to do for the sake of my own weight and health as well as for the example I have become to others in my community as well as the readers at this blog.

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is going to stand in the way of me doing what I have to do to stay healthy now that I am not the morbidly obese man I used to be. I'm still learning what it means to eat healthy and live a better lifestyle. That's hard for people to understand who see me now compared to the fat, unhealthy man I used to be. However, I remind them that this is a lifetime commitment that will take years of practice for me to develop those good habits I need to learn.

As for Jim Six, he's in a desperate position now. His new clothes no longer fit him and he's even had to go back to buying his clothes from big & tall stores again. UGH! Man, that really bites! While he hasn't gained back all of his weight, he does admit he has almost completely negated his weight loss efforts. That's just awful!

I know exactly how that feels, though. In 1999, I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet and looked fantastic. The only problem was I did it on a low-fat diet and felt absolutely miserable. I was starving to death and felt worse than miserable despite my awesome outward appearance. Within FOUR MONTHS of losing that incredible amount of weight, I had gained it all back in a rebellious fit of angst for how it made me feel! You don't want to know how humiliating that is for me to go through at the time, but I learned an invaluable lesson from that experience which has helped me with my current situation.

This is where the rubber meets the road when you get to see what someone is made of at the first sign of a real challenge finally hits. Losing weight? That was relatively easy! But keeping the weight off? That, my friend, requires constant focus by reminding yourself of where you once were so you'll never go back there again.

At work I keep a picture of myself when I weighed 410 pounds positioned right behind my computer screen so I have to see it every single day of my life. I NEVER want to look like that again and I use that as my motivation for continuing to remain vigilant on my low-carb plan. It's what I have to do to keep my weight under control and I wouldn't have it any other way.

For our friend Jim Six, his health and quality of life is beginning to suffer because of his weight gain (although his sense of humor is still intact!).

"I get winded easily. Once again, it's hard to tie my shoes," he wrote. "Once again, beautiful young women pass me by without a second glance. (OK, so they passed me by without looking when I was thinner, too, but a guy can dream, right?). My face, which had become almost thin, is chubby once again."

In a desperate plea for someone to throw him a lifeline about what to do regarding his weight problem, Jim Six said he is looking for "motivation and the resolve to just watch what I eat, get some exercise and lose some weight."

"But how the heck do you start a diet in the summer time?," he asked.

You'd be surprised how many people have e-mailed me in just the last week telling me they have STARTED on a low-carb plan to lose weight -- DURING THE SUMMER! Using the summer time as an excuse doesn't fly with me, buddy, in the same way people say you can't go on diet at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Baloney! If it is important enough to you, then you will have NO EXCUSES for making it happen in your life anytime -- including RIGHT NOW!

Resolve today that you are going to do this and then follow through on that commitment 100%. Tell yourself that NOTHING will stand in the way of your weight loss success and you WILL keep at it until your objective is reached. Then once you get there, make up your mind right now that you will never ever lose your focus again when you are maintaining your low-carb weight loss.

Make today the day that you make that promise and then keep it for the rest of your life! I'm right there with you Jim Six and I KNOW you can do it! Please contact me anytime you need a word of encouragement or a listening ear. I really do know how you feel. My e-mail address is

You can send Jim Six an e-mail to encourage him in his recommitment to livin' la vida low-carb at He needs to know that he can make it through this and become the permanent weight loss success he dreams of becoming. Many of us have been there or are there ourselves. Together, we can help him get through this triumphantly with the support he needs.


Blogger diamondwife said...

I keep a "fat" picture of myself on my desk at work to keep me from hitting the vending machine! It's great motivation. I've never heard of using summer as an excuse not to diet. Summer is a great time for grilling. I love using kabob baskets with pieces of steak and cut up vegetables. Grilled peppers, onions, tomatoes, and zuchinni are awesome. If there is an insatiable urge for ice cream there's always the low carb kind, which tastes awesome. Also fresh berries are great in the summer and there are plentiful fresh vegetables from farmers markets and road side stands. In the morning I throw some ice cubes in the blender with my ready-to-drink protein shakes to cool me down after my workouts. In fact, I think summer might just be the best time to go low-carb!

6/05/2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Hi Jimmy,

I'm a little late to the post here, but this was also exactly my experience after doing a general Atkins diet in 1998. The key to maintaining loss is simple, but extremely hard and requires focus and discipline.

Obese people have to accept that they have a relationship to carbs like an alcoholic has a relationship to booze. Fat people have to realize that they should never eat another carb again, if the so called "good ones" (a major myth being perpetrated by the latest low-carb diets like South Beach). By maintaining even the smallest about of carbs, say 30-50gm a day, it hinders the fat burning process for those losing and never strips the person of their cravings for carbs while maintaining.

6/06/2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger diamondwife said...

Rob, I am in Ongoing Weight Loss. I eat 30 to 35 grams per day, am still losing weight, and do not have carb cravings. I DO NOT, however, eat sugar or flour. My carbs all come from vegetables, fruits, dairy, and low-carb specialty foods (in small amounts). I was HEAVILY addicted to carbs and this works fine for me, as it has for many others following the Atkins way of eating, I'm sure. There are folks I know of who maintain at even higher carb levels and do not experience cravings, or only very minimal ones. I was obese and know that sugar and flour are bad news and plan on avoiding them lifelong, though whole foods such as carrot shreds on salads, fresh berries and cantaloupe, cottage cheese, and yogurt fit very well into my low-carb lifestyle while providing lots of variety and still allowing me to lose weight.

6/06/2006 6:39 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

It's a lifestyle change and it looks like he didn't "get" that? I could go back to eat crap, too. But why would I when I feel and look better on low-carb?

Rob - Veggies carbs ARE good carbs because they come with vitamins, phytonutrients (sp?), and fiber.

6/07/2006 10:30 PM  

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