Ten years ago this past summer, I had a relapse. I regained 12 pounds of the 60 I had lost over a 9 month period 4 years earlier. All I can remember from that misspent summer (I was 65 then) was that I regularly raided the freezer after supper or before bedtime to have a big dish of ice cream. That was all it took.
Four years earlier, my doctor had just read “What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?,” the July 7, 2002, Sunday Magazine cover story in The New York Times. For years my doctor had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get me to lose weight. And since the diet described in the Times’ story went against the medical establishment’s “Standard of Practice,” my doctor was reluctant to recommend it. He had a little paunch, though, so he decided to try it on himself first…and he lost 17 pounds.
A little later when my doctor suggested that I try this diet – Atkins Induction (20g of carbohydrate a day) – I decided to give it a shot. I weighed 375 pounds in 2002, and I didn’t think I was going to be healthy or even live that much longer. I was then taking a cocktail of drugs for hypertension (high blood pressure). In addition, I had been diagnosed a Type 2 Diabetic 16 years before, and had probably begun to develop Insulin Resistance a decade before that. Insulin Resistant meant I had become, in stages, Carbohydrate Intolerant .
I was taking maximum doses of two classes of oral antidiabetic medications and starting on a third. When the 3rd class of meds would eventually fail to control my blood sugar, I would “graduate” to insulin. That is the standard treatment for Type 2s; it is the “Standard of Practice” when “diet and exercise” fail. And diet and exercise inevitably do fail because the one-size-fits-all diet that doctors prescribe, again according to the “Standard of Practice,” is the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a low-fat, high-carb diet!
So, starting on a strict “Very Low Carb” regimen had an immediate effect on my health: I had a “hypo” the very first day. After eating a candy bar and waiting for “the sweats” to subside, I called my doctor. He told me to stop taking the 3rd oral that I had recently begun. But then, the next day I had another hypo. This time he told me to cut the dose of the other 2 meds in half, and before the week was out I had to cut them both in half again. I hadn’t noticed any weight loss, but in just one week I had eliminated almost all my T2 meds.
I did start to lose weight of course. Remember, that was why my doctor had started my on a Very Low Carb diet. He was almost as surprised as I was at the “unexpected” effectiveness of the Very Low Carb diet in treating my Type 2 Diabetes. My blood sugar was stable and in control. And over the course of 9 months, I lost the 60 pounds, 1½ pounds a week. And then I retired from work and the weight loss stopped. I didn’t gain any back; I just stopped losing. I don’t recall my state of mind, but I must have kept eating Lower Carb because for three years, until the summer of ‘06, I kept the 60 pounds off, and my blood sugar was stable.
Along the way, with time on my hands (being retired) and being “a little OC” (lol), to be sure that I adhered to the basics of Low Carbohydrate eating, in March 2004 I decided to keep a record of how many carbs I ate. To do this I constructed an Excel table (see this template) to record for a week everything I ate every day and to estimate the carb content only. To do this I used carb counting guides and free on-line services.
The concept was 1) to learn more about carbs and 2) to be accountable to myself – to fully “fess up,” to me alone, everything I put in my mouth. My estimate of food quantities and carb content was crude and approximate. It was just a way to keep daily carb counts, but it had the added benefit of keeping me honest.As I recently discovered when I found a misfiled folder in my directory, I kept these charts on and off from March 2004 until mid-2006, when I went off on that ice cream bender. Fortunately, by that time, I was well connected with an online community that showed me the way forward and provided much needed help and support. See next week’s post to learn how I was soon to lose another 100 pounds in just 50 weeks.