Monday, November 19, 2007

Thankful For Your Questions And Comments About Low-Carb Living

Of all the things that I do here in "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" land, one of my favorite activities is receiving and answering e-mails. Whether it's an excited new reader who just found out about my 180-pound low-carb weight loss success story or a veteran reader since the early days asking a question or passing along information, the thrill of seeing the lives of real people being changed for the better on a daily basis propels me to always be appreciative of what I do. And I am. :)

This week we celebrate what we are truly thankful for in our lives. Without question, I am more than appreciative and grateful for all of YOU for your constant encouragement and positive comments about how me and my blog have helped you in your weight and health journey. Anytime I start to feel down and discouraged, someone will inevitably send me an e-mail sharing a story about the work I am doing. THANK YOU for doing that and reminding me why I am doing what I am doing.

Let's take a look at a few of the e-mails that have come my way recently. First up is a pretty typical e-mail from a new reader who has struggled to lose weight and just needs a boost of support to help them get on track:

Hi Jimmy,

While browsing the Internet today I found your website and your amazing weight loss story. I congratulate you for something I have been trying to accomplish for over 20 years. I have been on Atkins probably about the same time you started it very easily lost 60 pounds, but I stopped because of having a lot of problems with cramps and was wondering if this was something you had to deal with.

I have tried everything from Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, meetings, etc.--it's not a lifestyle that I can maintain. My occupation is a Meat Dept. manager and I love to eat. I have heard so much negative about how bad low-carb is. I currently weigh 376 pounds and would give anything just to get down to 250.

Any words of encouragement or advice would be greatly appreciated. Maybe an outline of what you were eating while you lost the weight.

I really wish this reader had found my blog BEFORE he decided to stop his Atkins diet because he would have learned the reason he had having cramps was because he needed potassium. That's such a shame because a 60-pound weight loss is AWESOME! Sadly, some people let things like this stop them from experiencing the amazing benefits of livin' la vida low-carb.

Get in line with the "I've been on every diet known to mankind" club! LOL! I tried most of them for many years before I finally found my answer--the Atkins diet! And keep in mind that I actually read Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and did it BY THE BOOK. As I stated in this recent YouTube video, this is an absolute MUST if you are going to go on the Atkins diet. Anything else is NOT the Atkins diet. Click here to see six weeks of my actual low-carb menus.

Yes, there are still a lot of negative comments made about livin' la vida low-carb, but most of those are borne out of ignorance for what this way of eating is all about. Most people who even halfway educate themselves about what low-carb living is quickly learn this is indeed a healthy and effective way to shed the pounds and ward off disease. Anyone who says the Atkins diet didn't work only needs to look in the mirror for the reason why.

YOU CAN DO THIS if you follow your chosen plan EXACTLY as prescribed by the author and then keep doing it for the rest of your life. No more excuses! I'm always here to answer any questions that may come up, so don't hesitate to write.

Next up is an e-mail from someone who found a ways to manage his sweet tooth without the use of artificial sweeteners. He puts a call for others to share what they have done to shun the sugar, so feel free to share your comments in the comment section below:

Jimmy: I have followed your writings for about two years now. Has it been that long? Great work. Your recent blog post about chocolate chips prompts me to send you a note on my experiences.

I switched to small amounts of 72% cocoa chocolate when I started living low-carb over 4 years ago. I gradually worked my way up to 75%, 82% and now 88% cocoa chocolate. I now find that the 82% tastes sweet to me and, as I have managed to lose my sweet tooth by staying away from sweet things, the 82% varieties are now too sweet.

Seems like losing your sweet tooth would be a better thing to do that dealing with artificial sweeteners if you can do that. I'd be very interested in knowing how many of your readers have managed to lose their sweet tooth like me and how many need the artificial sweeteners in order to avoid sugar.

Personally, I STILL love using Splenda (sucralose) as part of my low-carb lifestyle as well as erythritol, oligofructose (chicory root), xylitol, and stevia. My thinking on this subject is that all of these sugar alternatives are MUCH better for you than sugar. Prior to my Atkins diet, I was a HARD sugar addict. There's no doubt in my mind that these substitutes helped me overcome my addiction.

Is it better if I didn't have ANY sugar or sugar substitutes? Probably. But if all those outstanding sweeteners can keep me from eating sugar for the rest of my life, then I have no problem whatsoever consuming them. What say you? :)

The following e-mail came in from a young lady who has seen her weight steadily rise over the past few years and she is severely depressed about it. Here's her story:


I am a 23-year old mother and I weigh exactly 137 lbs and I'm 5"1'. A lot of people would look at that and think well that isn't fat...when in fact it is for me. I went from a size 0 to a size 8, the clothes just keep getting bigger and bigger. I weigh more now that I did when I was pregnant.

When I gave birth I got down to 109 but I was also jogging everyday and I was on a very strict diet of proteins, cigarettes and coffee. I gave both up and gained 10 lbs. No big deal at that point I had a I'm 137. I'm past the point of comfortably plump.

I am addicted to sweets, I feel like I can't get through my day without at least having one. I also quit exercising due to laziness and fatigue. I have prayed about this numerous times and I know God wants to help crazy as it sounds I can here him tell me not to eat certain things when I go to eat them...I know he doesn’t want me to deprive myself he just wants me to have some self control. I feel like I've lost it.

I can't seem to keep the food out of my mouth. I never used to be like this, food never consumed my life the way it does, but now it's probably what I think about most. I HATE IT. I want to be obedient to God, but I feel like something has got a hold on me and my temple is paying the price. Please any help you can give would be much appreciated. Thank you and God bless!

Most of the time I hear from people who have been overweight or obese for their entire lives. But what about people who have been SKINNY most of their lives and now they find themselves with a weight problem? That's a scary thing for people who aren't used to dealing with being fat. It can seem horrendous and lonely because you feel like such a failure for allowing yourself to get that way.

But the good news is you CAN overcome this problem, regardless of how you got there. Whether you have put on a few pounds after being thin your whole life or if you are a lifelong obese person, there's no doubt in my mind that God can help you beat it successfully. He certainly was there for me in 2004 when I was losing 180 pounds and He's still with me today as I continue to maintain my weight. Let the Lord strengthen you just as he has me and be encouraged by our shared human experience.

This next one is a classic and speaks for itself:

Dear Jimmy & Christine:

Please let me start off by saying what a HUGE FAN I am of your dedication and effort regarding low-carb living and all of the many lives you touch by reaching out and educating. I am sooo impressed by your genuine care for all those whom you respond to, with your sensitive replies and obvious passion for this way of life.

I am from Nova Scotia, Canada and I am about to "re-start" a low-carb program. Not to bore you with the details, but I am a 39 year old momma of four precious children (7,9,10,12) and it seems that my metabolism wants me to live in paleolithic times...yeah, yeah, "I'm a Survivor!" (LOL). I am 5"7', medium-boned (I guess) and...drum roll please...I weigh 197 pounds.

I found the low-carb "weigh of life" (now, how's that for a pun? Haha!) about 10 years ago a.k.a., my favorite Dr. of 'em all...Dr. Atkins in his " New Diet Revolution" book. With his program, I did lose some weight, but more importantly, I lost some very real pains that started to creep up on me in my neck/back/hip region. Not only that, if you can believe this, my vision actually improved, which an optometrist said is so very rare as we usually degenerates as I'm sure you know.

I know I'm "going on" here, but I guess it is because I need your support...=.the support that only someone who has been through this weight loss battle, can give. Don't get me wrong tho' husband is sincerely amazing (we've been married for 14 years and dating for 7, so 21 years together!!) and I cannot thank him enough for enduring my diet attempts and failures over the years. He never, never once gave up on me. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about that and how educates himself also on the low-carb way of life and totally believes in it as well...he's even joined me on my "several" attempts (I am so embarrassed to say I've tried numerous times, and then gave up).

Many of my problems in staying on any program is that I don't lose as quickly as many who try low-carb living. You see, I know I am a "borderline" diabetic, as well as my cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. have all been high just recently and yet, my fasting blood sugar was a 5.3 A1C. While not "high", this is not entirely low considering this was on a 14 hour fast!!! (As Dr. Bernstein explains, a 4.2 to 4.4 is "normal").

Jimmy, I've tested my blood glucose (I got a free monitor at a drugstore with one set of strips, but my Dr. had the nerve not to prescribe me the testing strips due to that reading!!!) after eating 1 slice of pizza and 3 small garlic fingers and a cup of coffee and I got a 9.4 and the jitters. I realize that postprandial/after meal readings will be a bit higher, but I just bet if Dr. Bernstein had a Q & A post, he would say that this reading is unacceptable and it explains the "Syndrome X" symptoms regarding my blood lipid profile.

I have that classic "apple" shape, thin legs and pretty much all of my fat centered in the middle and I just cannot for the life of me understand how my Dr. could sit there telling me to not eat eggs, red meat and cream when in fact, I had been on Weight Watchers during that reading (I know, I can't believe I resorted to that...but then again, why wouldn't a pre-diabetic try having her "fix"?) of my blood lipids and even gently explained to him (I'm gentle but get frustrated by non-listeners) that I was not even eating eggs or red meat during the entire 6 weeks!!!! Still, the man said, "Just give up eating eggs, except for 2 per week."

I don't know if your American physicians are this exasperating, but there are quite a few here who think low-carb is "nuts." So, I asked him what he thought of low-carb and he said "Sure, just remember to not eat eggs, cheese, butter, cream...focus on turkey and fish, fish and turkey." Just listening to him, I knew it would be an organ-burn-out and it was not "low-carb" he was touting, but a starvation diet with "a bit of canola oil" or non-hydrogenated margarine. I almost found it funny, save for the idea that this was medical advice coming from a doctor!

And not to be offensive about my doctor, but he did have a huge belly (which I can relate to), but my point is that he couldn't obviously tolerate just eating fish and turkey and a bit of "fat-free" dressing on HIS lettuce, so why would he advocate it to someone with high cholesterol? Out of fear, or out of ignorance? Especially since I was eating oatmeal (something touted as lowering cholesterol) and "good" carbs.

The point is, I knew what I was "not" getting away with. Anyone who has followed Dr. Atkins and the Drs. Eades, just "knows" and can never really turn back in ignorance. So Jimmy, I sincerely am back to this for life. My only dilemma is whether to follow Atkins' program again or Protein Power's "30 Day Low Carb Diet Solution." Shamefully, I've done both and gave up the race after not seeing big losses. Not only this, but I was too "into" baking, etc. and the kids...and myself...were loving my homemade breads, etc. I will be converting my kitchen to still bake bread...just low-carb varieties for their sake!

Which brings me to THE most important reason I want to do this, this time...I want to be here in a healthy way, for my children, for as long as possible. If this doesn't sound too personal, I just know that Jesus wants this for me too! He does not want to see me continuously disappoint myself and give up on myself so easily. I know He wants me to believe in myself so that I can be the best Mary Lee that I can be! And, what a truly great model this would be for my own children...a Mommy who kept on plugging away to reach the goal-line, saying, "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can...." So that one day, they will chant the very same thing for whatever hurdles life brings to them.

Jimmy & Christine, with this, I will leave you with a poem I wrote about two years ago...even though I "broke" plan back then, I have known in my heart that my "fave" of all Doctors (Dr. Atkins) was oh so right (please don't think I'm koo koo, but I often pray and let him in on how I am still trying to lose the pounds). The only reason I am considering Protein Power again is because of the little bit more leeway with carbs from the start (i.e. blueberries, nuts). Having said that, at this moment, I'm still not sure which way to go...both are great programs!!!

This is it...I don't know if others "go on" this much, but I visit your site (and YouTube videos) each and every day, I laugh so hard at some of the posts and your sense of humor regarding low-fat naysayers...I love the research and I am still discovering so much more about your site.

And here's her humorous poem:


I've been around the low-fat block
And to my great surprise,
The excess around my middle
Kept spreading to my thighs.

And then I hazily woke up,
From my oh-so high-carb sleep
And knew I was in danger,
A danger running deep.

An Inner Voice I know so well,
Knew something wasn't right,
Why is it when I eat my carbs,
I'm up throughout the night?
My moods sporadically raging,
My breath uneven too,
And when I looked into the mirror,
I knew what I had to do!

Back to Basic Eating,
Like our Ancestor's Way,
Something Dr. Atkins' Said,
Rang a Bell that Day.

And now just like a Super-Kid,
With energy to Spare,
Not thinking what to munch on next,
My mind put to other Care

If you think about our Ancestors,
And what they did all day,
They were not baking bread
Or cultivating hay.

No, rather they were hunting bull
And running all day long,
A low-carb Follower,
Like them I'll be,
Lighting Fire,
Singing Song!

Some things just don't need any commentary and this is one of them.

Anyone who has been on low-carb for a decade or longer gets a lot of respect in my book. I received an e-mail from a man who recently read my Livin' La Vida Low-Carb book and is noticing something rather peculiar happening to him the longer he has been livin' la vida low-carb. See if you can relate to this:

Hello Jimmy,

I just finished your book. I have been on Atkins since 1997, or about 10 years. I started when I was 43 years old and went from 225 lbs to 200 lbs. (Ht ~ 5'11").

However, though I stay eating low-carb most of the time, as I get older, now 53, I gain more weight though I am eating about the same low-carb way.

Ten years later, though I am still eating low-carb, I now weigh 225 (where I started 10 yrs ago), but when I have gone off a few days on a business trip lately, I would quickly gain to 235. So back to low-carb only gets me to 225!

This makes me wonder if 225 lbs seems to be the new set point for my age? 225 is not really grossly "Obese", but I do have a unattractive belly. Pants waist of 10 years ago went from 36 ->38->40-> to just this past August to 42! My blood work was good when I had it done about a year ago, but I can not understand why I am steadily gaining? I exercise 3-5 times/week as well.

I have acquired all the "low-carb skills" so I do not believe inadvertent self-sabotage is the cause. ANY suggestions or advise would be most highly appreciated! Thanks for the wonderful book! Truly motivating (and new inspiration to get back to 200 lbs!).

I've noticed my weight can start to creep up when I feel I am doing everything exactly right. But then when I take a closer look at what I'm eating, I notice I've taken in more carbohydrates that I realized through hidden sources of sugar and carbs. You have to be vigilant about this and realize what triggers these gains. Of course, keep in mind that weight gain on low-carb is not the end of the world. And, no, despite what this study may say about low-carb evolving to make you fat, it just doesn't happen.

Here's a question for you long-time low-carbers. Have you noticed it getting harder to maintain your weight livin' la vida low-carb the longer you do it? Is it possible to do everything absolutely perfectly with your low-carb lifestyle and still gain weight? Share your comments about this below.

Finally, I have an e-mail with a very common question about how to find a low-carb friendly doctor in your area to help treat your health. Here's what she wrote:

Hello Jimmy,

I was wondering if you have a resource that can find me a Doctor that specializes in the Atkins Diet? I surely do not want to go to a doctor that has been only trained in the "Low Fat Diet" in medical school as I believe it effects the way a doctor will evaluate and treat me and possibly have a whole other out look on what is healthy.

I have lost over 30 pounds since Oct 1, 2007. I feel great, I have been off my Blood Pressure medication for over 2 weeks, and have a resting blood pressure of 116/65 and 64 beats a minute. My over all cholesterol is 150 based on my home test and my fasting blood sugar is at 90. I am currently at 405 lbs and I want to start working out.

However I want to be seen by a doctor to get a all clear to do so. Although my fiance is a Gastro Doctor she thinks it is best that I see a Internal medicine Doc to evaluate my current condition and give me the all clear. I would really like to be able to find a doctor that really understands the controlled carb world and life style as there seems to be new info on this daily, I want them to know the details of the diet and I do not want to have to teach them what its benefits are and can treat me accordingly.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could please help me out. Please let me know your thoughts on this and let me know if you have some recommendations and if you have some resources you can contact to get me in touch with the right Doctor. Is there some kind of directory or "1800 low carb doc" LOL!!!! Thanks again!

I've spoken with quite a few low-carb doctors across the country about how to come up with a registry of medical professionals who would support using livin' la vida low-carb in their practice. It sure would be convenient to have a way to look up which physicians in your area will not ridicule and scorn you for trying low-carb living. All we want is reliable low-carb advice from a medical professional and that's hard to come by these days.

Well, in my podcast interview with Dr. Mary C. Vernon earlier this year, she recommended that people who are looking for a low-carb friendly doctor go to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) web site and click on the Find A Doctor link there for a member of ASBP.

While the doctors who are in this organization are not all super supporters of livin' la vida low-carb, they respect any patient who chooses this as their method for losing weight. Go ahead and give it a try. The alternative is just not worth worrying over anymore.

Do you have any thoughts, comments, or questions for me? Then please send me an e-mail anytime at It is my honor and privilege to hear from you and answer every single message that comes my way. THANK YOU for giving me that opportunity to interact with you in this way.

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Blogger Carey said...

I've tried Splenda, stevia and other sugar substitutes, and they all taste bad to me, so I just got use to not eating anything sweetened. I'm up to 88% cocoa chocolate now too (the 70% tasted sicky-sweet to me when I went back to it after Induction). I've found a 91% bar that I'm going to try this weekend!

I've found that by avoiding added sweeteners, sugar or otherwise, I can taste the natural sweetness of food much more, so, while I applaud the folks who make Sweet Perfection and other healthy sweeteners, i prefer to enjoy my newfound sensitivity and not blunt my taste-buds :)


11/19/2007 1:41 PM  
Blogger Kevin M. said...

To the man with the "weight creep" problem, see the following article listed in Jimmy's "7 hot reads" post from a few days ago (MSN Health and Fitness - "Five Reasons You're Not Losing Weight"). Many of us middle-aged types have the same "creep" problem, especially around the belly.

This is also a good follow-up to our ongoing discussion of Anthony Colpo who claims that exercise alone can remove weight, somewhat legitimizing his claim that physical activity is also important, as an adjunct to diet, though not the whole story as he claims. This article does not mention whether carbs were controlled in the study, or only calories.

The results show that certain types of weight and muscle work can help to tip the hormonal balance in the body when losing weight. Building muscle recreates muscle lost to dieting, changes the fat/muscle ratio, and creates more fat-burning muscle. Note that the effective part is the muscle-building weight training, not merely the cardio/aerobics. What needs to be changed is the fat-to-muscle ratio.>1=10613

"5. You Don't Lift Weights

In a study at the University of Connecticut, we put overweight men on a 1,500-calorie-a-day diet, and divided them into three groups — one that didn't exercise, another that performed aerobic exercise 3 days a week, and a third that did both aerobic exercise and weight training. Each group lost almost the same amount of weight — about 21 pounds. But the lifters shed 5 more pounds of fat than those who didn't pump iron. Why? Their weight loss was almost pure fat, while the other two groups lost just 15 pounds of lard, along with several pounds of muscle.

Do this: Make three total-body weight training sessions a week a non-negotiable part of your weight loss plan. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that lost muscle is replaced by fat over time. This not only makes you look flabby, but it also increases your pants size — even if you somehow manage to keep your scale-weight the same. The reason: Each pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space on your body than each pound of muscle."

11/20/2007 1:24 PM  
Blogger JD said...

To the man with the "weight creep" problem:

You didn't say what kind of exericise your were doing 3-5 times a week. In addition to the weights, I would also recommend looking into HIT or High Intensity Training (a.k.a. Interval Training)as part of your cardio. The touted benefit is that you increase your production of Human Growth Hormone whose production declines as you age. HGH's benefit is that it reduces body fat. HIT is anaerobic training. Think sprinter physique versus long distance runner physique. You get a bigger bang for your workout time with HIT as well by being able to shorten your workouts.

11/20/2007 4:01 PM  
Blogger Froilee said...

Really insightful, thank you for sharing all your mail.... this is so helping me living la vida lowcarb....

12/12/2007 6:23 PM  

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