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Crystal's Living La Vida Low Carb!!!! 
(My low carb journey)
 

By Crystal
Saskatoon

My name is Crystal and this is my low carb journey.
 
I was an extremely hyperactive child (my childhood was a nightmare, my kindergarden teacher told my Mom she was "a failure as a Mother") and I have been overweight since puberty. I weighed about 150 in junior high when all my peers were 110 and 120. I started dieting in grade 10, lost 20 pounds to 130, but was starving all the time (went down to 800 calories and constant exercise to lose it) and soon gained to 160. Then the summer after I graduated, I couldn't find work, sat around all summer eating from boredom and my weight went up to 180. During college, I went low fat again and lost 40 pounds, but again, I was always hungry and within a year or two I had gained it all back.
 
In 1987 I discovered TOPS (a weight loss group that is low fat/high carb) and followed their plan diligently, lost 38 pounds and kept it off for almost a year. I was chapter co-leader and leader, won several awards and was chapter queen, but I was starving all the time. I would eat three heads of lettuce or 10 cups of plain popcorn (free foods) and still be starving 20 minutes later, so I was constantly eating. I even became bulemic, went on wild binges and did herbal laxative teas or made myself throw up to not gain weight, but I knew this was extremely unhealthy and stopped doing that. Finally could not stay with that constant starvation and depravation and eventually gained all the weight back plus. I also got chronic fatigue syndrome, and no matter how "healthy" I ate (by current health terms) I was still tired, overweight and ill all the time. I was even vegetarian for six months, not only did I not get any better or thinner, but my hair started to fall out and I developed severe anemia, despite the fact that I was taking a (vegan) iron supplement and properly combining my grains and beans to make protiens and eating lots of whole grains and veggies.
 
I also had constant problems remembering things and staying on top of things, and when I did feel better, I would be really hyper and race at life frantically until I burned out and the chronic fatigue would take over. It's like my brain was always racing or in a fog, and things were not going well. Because of the brain fog I also had 7 car accidents in 10 years (although several were not my fault) and that just made my health problems even worse.
 
I had a bad car accident (# 7) in August 1997, and my joint problems and chronic fatigue really took over. By Christmas of 1997 I had hit rock bottom and had given up. Then one morning as I was waking up to my clock radio, there was a radio program of an interview with Dr. John Halowell, author of "Driven to Distraction" a book on Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, the current name for hyperactivity. I thought "Oh yeah, I had that as a child". He was saying that they have recently discovered that more than 50% of children with ADHD do not grow out of it - it stays with them into adulthood and can affect their whole life. He read off the 20 symptoms of adult ADHD and I sat bolt upright in bed - I HAVE ALL 20 SYMPTOMS!! It was like a missing piece that made the other pieces make sense.
 
I sought medical help and was rediagnosed with severe ADHD as well as hypoglycemia. My search for health and wellness to treat those two conditions as well as the chronic fatigue syndrome is what led me to read a book called "Your Body Knows Best" by Ann Louise Gittleman. In that book, she discusses that there are different metabolism types and blood types that determine what one should eat, and because of my blood type (O) and metabolism profile (the book has a 50 question test to determine this), I should be eating a diet that is high in protien and low in carbohydrates, THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF HOW I HAD BEEN EATING AND HAD BEEN TAUGHT TO EAT!!! She also believes nobody, regardless of blood type or metabolism, should eat sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed or refined foods. The more I read, the more I learned that the best diet for hypoglycemia and ADHD is also a low carb, high protien diet.
 
So in January of 1998, I started eating more meat, protein, low carb veggies and cut out starchy carbs (like cereal bread, pasta, sugar, potatoes, peas, carrots) in order to get my health back. I had previously given up on weight loss - I had stayed at around 174 pounds for about a year and had been told it was better to stay heavy than to gain and lose (yo-yo) constantly, so at that time I didn't care about the weight. In the first week, not only did I have more focus, energy, calm mental clarity and stable blood sugars, but I lost 7 pounds! I thought "it's probably only water weight" and didn't really get my hopes up. Then as my health, focus and energy levels steadily improved, my weight continued to drop!! I had also been to a naturopath (who also did allergy testing and discovered I am allergic to wheat and sugar, among other starchy things) and was trying to detoxify my system, and I learned that toxins are stored in fat, so if I wanted to totally detox, losing weight did need to be one of my goals. It was about then (February 1998) that I read Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution and discovered that was basically how I had been eating for a month, but his book helped me understand the "why" of how it worked and gave me more motivation, guidelines and ideas, so I embraced the Atkins way of life. (I have also read Protien Power, Suzanne Summers, Neanderthin, CAD, Sugar Busters and still do read any other low carb books I get my hands on - I have learned (and continue to learn) much from all of them. Most all low carb plans are a step in the right direction, and whatever low carb plan really works for a person and is easy to stay on without hunger, cravings or ill health, stick with it for life).
 
By May 1998 I had hit my goal weight of 132, size 8-10 and my health was so much better I started a brand new job that I loved in a fast paced dynamic company that I would have never had the mental focus and controlled energy to do before this WOE. I have not slowed down since. Besides that job, I have followed several dreams and started my own wire, bead and stained glass jewellery business as well as singing and playing guitar and saxophone in a folk and blues duo called Tin Pan Alley with my best freind, who is now my husband (since this past New Years Eve - we were married at the stroke of midnight, so our actual anniversary is Jan. 1, 2000). We just bought a house in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (where my husband is from) and moved here from New Westminster, BC as the prices of houses in the Vancouver area were way beyond our reach. We bought a house in Saskatoon for less than it would cost to buy a batchelor condo in Lower Mainland BC (I'm talking $58,000 for a 2 bedroom, 860 sq. ft. house on a 50 x 120 lot in a nice neighborhood!). I really like Saskatoon, got a great job that I love, and the house is everything I've ever dreamed of! If anyone reading this is in Saskatoon or the surrounding area, please contact me as I would love to build a local support group and meet other low carbers for pot lucks or outings.
 
Life is grand. I have been in maintenance and at goal for over 2 years now, and I love this WOL more now than ever. Besides allowing me to be thin for life without constant excercise, hunger and deprivation, eating this way has eliminated the chronic fatigue syndrome, controls my hypoglycemia and really helps to control the ADHD. It is the best plan ever for total health and I will never go back to starchy high carb or unnatural foods ever!!
 
I've attached some pictures, the filenames are pretty much self explanitory, and the black forest cake in the wedding photo really is low carb!!!!
 
Crystal in Saskatoon
174/132/132 42 pounds gone forever
Atkins since Jan 12, 1998
Maintenance since May 1998

Before Picture March 1997 Band Photo
Before Picture, March 1997, Band Photo.

Alaskan Cruise May 1999
Alaskan Cruise, May 1999.

Wedding Me Cutting Low Carb Wedding Cake
Wedding: Me Cutting Low Carb Wedding Cake

 

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