Saturday, December 02, 2006

'Recovering Carboholic' Achieves 84-Pound Weight Loss By Ditching Sugar, Refined Carbs

Jo Heeley overcame her deep addiction to carbs to lose weight

This UK-based The Sun story about a singer named Jo Heeley and her amazing 84-pound weight loss should encourage anyone who has already decided or even thought about taking the bold step to give up their sugar and carbohydrate addiction forever. That fateful decision was what turned Jo into, as The Sun so aptly put it, a "sugar-free babe!"

At her highest weight, the 5'7" tall Jo tipped the scales at 210 pounds wearing size 20 clothes that were getting tighter and tighter as she continued eating herself into obesity. It's not difficult to know why her weight was shooting skyward either based on the excessive amount of sugary, high-carb foods she was putting in her mouth on a daily basis.

Here was a typical day's meal for Jo before her low-carb lifestyle:

BREAKFAST: 2 Pop Tarts
MORNING SNACK: 2 Twix bars and a tube of Pringles
LUNCH: Bean burrito
AFTERNOON SNACK: Jelly sandwiches
SUPPER: Spaghetti with cake for dessert

Yikes! That menu looks pretty familiar! As you can see, Jo was severely hooked on sugar and needed to be weaned off of it as soon as possible if she was ever going to stop the upward climb in her weight. That didn't really sink in until she saw the following picture of herself while singing that was her trigger moment that something needed to be done:

This picture changed the course of Jo's life forever

It's amazing how a picture like that can get people to "wake up" from their mental slumber about the severity of their obesity problem. When I weighed 410 pounds, it was hard to see how bad I had gotten until I watched a video of me waddling around and pulled out some old photos of myself.

That's hard to look at because it looks so surreal! Is that REALLY ME?! It can't be because I don't look like that, do I? Um, NEWSFLASH, yes you do! Those pictures are burned in my mind's eye even now and I don't ever want to forget either!

But that was then and this is now thanks to UK dietitian Amanda Ursell.

Popular UK nutritionist and author Amanda Ursell helps Jo with her diet

As the "diet" expert at The Sun, it was Amanda's job to teach Jo about what she was doing wrong in her diet and to help her begin implementing effective strategies for handling the problem foods that had ballooned her weight to 200+ pounds. While most nutritionists and dietitians these days would have put Jo on a low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diet, you'll never believe what Amanda did!

The first thing Amanda wanted Jo to do was "ditch all the sugar and high GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates." WHOA! Is Amanda REALLY a dietitian? She certainly is wise to the impact that sugar and refined carbs have on your weight, so I am impressed with that. We could certainly use a lot more dietitians just like her over here in the United States.

Amanda said once Jo eliminated sugar from her diet and replaced those foods with high-protein, low-GI foods instead, weight loss was able to happen--FAST!

“By doing this her blood sugar levels came under control and stopped soaring and nosediving which in turn reduced her cravings for these kinds of foods," Amanda explained. “In their place Jo needed to eat high protein foods — for example, eggs were a good choice for breakfast with a slowly digested type of bread like multigrain or rye bread."

WOW, that's a pretty healthy low-carb meal plan, wouldn't you say? Then Amanda got Jo to start eating satisfyingly healthy high-fat nuts to keep her cravings for sugar at bay between meals so she wouldn't feel tempted to eat sugary snacks like she used to.

The remaining two meals of the day were more high-protein, power-packed bundles of nutrition for her new lifestyle.

“Lunchtime could be a big chicken, ham or fish salad and dinner in the evening a straightforward meal such as roast chicken or beef with lots of vegetables," Amanda exclaimed.

Unbelieveable! Hey, I thought low-carb was dead people? LOL! Obviously NOT since it's working for Jo because of the helpful insight of people like Amanda Ursell. I would like to publicly applaud Amanda for refusing to just settle for the same old low-fat dietary garbage that usually comes from people in her profession by turning to a way of eating that is genuinely helping people overcome a lifetime of sugar addiction and weight problems. I'm thrilled to see that, Amanda!

In just one year, Jo is now down to 126 pounds and looks fantastic in her size 10 clothes.

“I’ve never felt better. I just wished I’d not left it so long to sort myself out," Jo revealed.

I think all of us who have experience permanent weight loss after years of struggling have been there, Jo. If I had known that losing 200 pounds and keeping it off long-term would feel this great without all the "suffering" I thought I would have to endure to get here and stay here, then I would have most certainly done it a long time ago. CONGRATULATIONS on your outstanding weight loss Jo as you inspire a nation and a world that livin' la vida low-carb is indeed still working for so many people.

You certainly have to LOVE the fact that Jo is also exercising now with regular cardiovascular workouts and strength training. When she began burning more calories by investing the time to exercise, then she was able to begin eating a little more to fuel those workouts. But, again, none of those meals are loaded with carbs and most are heavy on protein.

Wanna see what Jo eats nowadays? Here's a recent low-carb menu:

BREAKFAST: Scrambled eggs with lean bacon
MORNING SNACK: 50g bag of unsalted peanuts
LUNCH: Avocado with lots of celery or a prawn salad
AFTERNOON SNACK: Berries or a GoLower chocolate creme bars
DINNER: Roasted chicken with carrots, peas and broccoli

Mmmm, that looks so incredibly healthy and satisfying, Jo! Can I come over for dinner? That's pretty neat that she traded in her Twix bars (which I used to ADORE as well!) for the awesome GoLower chocolate creme bars. These low-glycemic, no sugar added bars are packed with fiber and protein and taste so delicious, too! Right now they are only available in the UK, but they will soon be coming to the United States and available at CarbSmart. They're well worth the wait! Just ask Jo!

As happy as she is about her astounding weight loss, Jo is also dealing with another issue that so many of us who have gone through the experience of a large weight loss are facing.

“I still have the problem of feeling big, even though I know I’m not. I was so much larger before I lost the weight – and found it hard afterwards with the excess skin," she admitted. “It was difficult to dress myself nicely because you could still see flab, even though it was just skin."

I could almost write a book on this subject, Jo! People just don't understand how much all that excess, hanging, loose skin can work on you psychologically, even after such an amazing weight loss. Looking at myself in the mirror should be something I relish, but I don't. All that squishy skin that looks like fat is discouraging. I'm not about to go gorge myself on a whole box of Little Debbie snack cakes over it, but I don't feel the final exclamation point on my weight loss has happened until I can have an abdominoplasty done.

This does begin to wear on you mentally and it's a fact that I think insurance companies should start taking more notice of. If people like me are able to put forth the effort to lose weight and maintain that weight for a set period of time, say one or two years, then the least an insurance company can do is approve a tummy tuck surgery. They pay for gastrointestinal bypass surgeries left and right, but not a skin removal surgery when someone loses weight naturally? I don't get it.

Don't people who have successfully shed significant amounts of weight in a way deserve have that done as a reward for getting their weight and health under control? I think it might help people become more accountable in their weight loss efforts if they can see all the improvements in their body that an abdominoplasty would show after maintaining their weight loss for a couple of years. I certainly think this is something that merits serious consideration.

Jo was fortunate enough to be able to have a tummy tuck done herself because she wanted "a look that shows off my hard work and makes me feel glamorous and stylish – without feeling like I have to disguise my extra skin!”

That extra skin is very hard to cover it up with some outfits, Jo! One of these days I'm gonna have it done. Do you know a good plastic surgeon who could take in the belly of this former 62-inch waist who now has a 36-inch waist? I REALLY want to have this done in 2007. It has been my dream ever since I lost the majority of my weight in 2004. It WILL happen sooner or later. Hopefully sooner... :)

At the end of the article, Jo describes herself as a "recovering carboholic" who offers some sage advice for people desiring weight loss like she experienced.

“Don’t listen to all the conflicting diet advice. Find a way of eating which suits you and do it. I have lots more energy and sleep better. Losing weight can literally change your whole life.”

Hey, she sounds like ME now! HA! Once again, kudos to you, Jo, because you look fantastic and sound like you have all the confidence in the world about the way you look and feel following your low-carb experience. Keep on livin' la vida low-carb my friend and never forget about that 210-pound woman you used to be. It will keep you from ever seeing that woman again!

Send a THANK YOU note to Amanda Ursell for the low-carb advice she gave to Jo Heeley because she needs to know how much people who are livin' la vida low-carb appreciate her for going against the tide by recommending sugar-free, low-carb living. Use this contact page at Amanda's web site and share your feedback with her. Tell her "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" Man sent you!

1-18-08 UPDATE: Although it has been a very long time since I posted this success story about Jo Heeley, she only recently saw it and has expressed her dissatisfaction about it. It seems that story in The Sun was DEAD WRONG about the role Amanda Ursell played in her low-carb weight loss success and Heeley said as much on the Active Low-Carber Forums today:

"That's me (referring to this blog post) for those that don't know and its mostly a complete load of BS!!! Just for the record, I lost weight following the Atkins diet, I didn't meet Amanda until at least two years after I had lost it and then she didn't approve of my WOE!!!!!"

Heeley also posted at the Low-Carb Diet UK forum with her angry and unhappy response to my post:

"Look what I've just found!!??? How did that get there???? AMANDA F***ING @SELL DID WHAT?????????" (tell us how you REALLY feel, Jo!)

For the record, I wrote this blog post based on what that article in The Sun shared about Jo's weight loss. I apologize if there were inaccuracies in that story and am MORE THAN HAPPY to share the REAL STORY in a follow-up post if Jo Heeley would like to contact me at I am always happy to share about people who lose weight and get healthy by livin' la vida low-carb, so tell me about your success, Jo. :) I look forward to hearing from you!

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Blogger Unknown said...

That's me - I'm also 5'7", tipped the scales at 206, and wore size 18. I had a pair of 20s like she wore, but they were still loose.

12/04/2006 1:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I read the story, and thought "That was me!" too :) I'm 5'11 and had burst out of size 18s. Now I'm down to 145 lbs and wearing some 10s some 12s. Like you, Jimmy, I should relish looking in the mirror more, but that glob o' skin at my waist gets me down. I want to wear dresses like this Jo Heeley gal, but the dresses still don't look right in the middle. I agree that health insurance companies could do worse than rewarding people who reach certain healthy goals and prove they're in it for the long haul. I doubt it will ever happen, but it's a great idea!

12/06/2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Barbs said...

Hi Jimmy
I am one of the moderators on the UK low carb forum of which Jo Heeley is a member and I can assure you that Amanda Ursell had nothing to do with Jo's success. The first time that they had any contact at all was at the photo shoot for the magazine article.
We were all stunned at the wording of the magazine article. We know that Jo's success is down to her own efforts and any support we have given her along the way.
You can find us at

1/18/2008 10:07 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for the info, Barbs! Yeah, it's just like those "experts" to take credit for something they had NOTHING to do with. Keep up the great work on behalf of livin' la vida low-carb!

1/18/2008 10:10 AM  

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