Dan & Karen's Story: 11 months and 136 pounds ago
Dan & Karen
Although we originally titled the story “11 months and 76 pounds ago…” a more appropriate title would be “11 months and 136 pounds ago.” You see 136 pounds is the total amount of weight that my wife, Karen, and myself have lost as of today 3-12-2002. It has taken us 11 months to do so.
Our names are Dan and Karen and 11 months ago we had a serious weight condition. We discovered an effective way of dealing with it… a low carbohydrate lifestyle. The moment we think of ourselves as “being on a diet” instead of having a “new way of life” is the moment we assure ourselves of becoming the unhappy, unhealthy people we were.
One year ago I stood in front of my closet and realized that no article of clothing I owned fit properly - except perhaps my pajamas, which had an elastic band. The 46-inch waste pants I wore were evidence of what I had let happen to myself. Seeing my wife going through her wardrobe and only finding a XXL T-shirt that felt comfortable was even more disturbing.
I spent a lot of time in those pajamas. We retreated from the world as our weight climbed. We tried every type of diet imaginable. I tried diuretics and appetite suppressants and became increasingly unglued as these poisons did what they do. Most troubling was our complete lack of hope – we saw no way out.
One day we were out driving. We went through an orange light and I noticed a car was right on my bumper. I guess I wasn’t going fast enough to insure his getting through the intersection before the light turned red. He pulled alongside, rolled down his window and shouted “why don’t you learn how to drive you fat slob.”
That was it. That was my bottom. It was at this defining moment that our low carbohydrate way of life began. Although I resented his remark deeply, today I can’t thank him enough. The lesson learned: “don’t shoot the messenger.”
I began to search the Internet for yet another diet or solution to our situation. I came across this site and began to read. I bought the “Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution” book and read it in four days. After Karen read it – I read it again. Even today not a week goes by without our referring to it. We went through our refrigerator and kitchen and discarded everything that wasn’t allowed on the induction phase of the plan. We began to drink water religiously and started walking - one mile a day every morning. Something miraculous then happened – the weight started to come off. Karen and I were in disbelief. Although we both experienced some initial discomfort as our bodies adjusted – we soon felt better.
My initial weight loss was dramatic, Karen’s less so. But the scale was going in the right direction for both of us. Karen sometimes became discouraged when she saw how quickly I lost weight – but both of us now know that as long as we stay on the same road she will catch up to me someday. This is a lifelong journey for us both. There is no “Graduation Day.”
The distance we walked increased gradually and at some point we decided to take our health and fitness to another level – we joined a gym. I joined first and Karen later. One day while I was getting a haircut something magical happened – someone noticed I had lost weight. My barber said “ your face looks thinner – have you lost some weight?” I was pumped. The same magic happened to Karen when the parent of one of the children she tutors simply said “you look different.” Karen’s first weight loss acknowledgment happened around Thanksgiving - more than six months after she started. The fact that it took so long is evidence of her determination. While everybody noticed me – nobody noticed her. She could have become resentful and jealous – instead she said things like “ I think you look great too.” I love her so.
There have been some bumps in the road - a prolonged stall for me at 170 pounds during the summer and several long stalls for Karen. Relying on seedless white grapes for quick energy and eating too much bacon may have prolonged my stall.
Karen deals with her weight loss stalls by taking in her clothes on her sewing machine. It reminds her that weight loss is not the only benefit of a low carbohydrate way of life, lost inches are equally important. She refuses to buy a new wardrobe only to have it become too large as she continues to lose weight and inches. I bought her a gold necklace when she lost fifty pounds. You would think she was wearing the “Hope Diamond” when I fasten it around her neck.
Today finds me at goal and Karen well on her way. My strength and stamina have not diminished as a result of the weight loss. I wasn’t able to do one pull-up when I first, very meekly, walked into the gym. Today I can do fourteen strict form, full extension, chin over the bar pull-ups. More than once, after finishing, I’ve heard a couple of young studs that were standing nearby say to one another “how old is that guy?” For those interested, I am 52 years old. Karen is younger than I am.
I’m not sure how much I weighed when I first went to the gym and was able to bench press 185. Today I can bench 195 and I weigh 146. We covered one mile on our first walk. Today I’m up to four and half miles at a fast pace with no stopping except to stretch. I love stretching – especially in the gym between sets. Stretching helps remove the lactic acid that accumulates in the muscles after intense stimulation and allows for fresh nutrients and oxygen to get in there and make them hard. Karen does about two and a half miles. In addition to walking she does water aerobics, goes to a gym for an aerobic class three times a week and uses the resistance machines while she is there.
I had a physical the other day. My medical doctor didn’t recognize me even though I have been going to him for years. After saying hello he said, “ I have another patient whose last name is the same as yours , are you related.” The look on his face when I told him “I’m that guy” will stay with me forever. Before I began I sought his advice on whether this way of eating would be advisable. He answered with two words… do it! He ordered blood work and I regret to this very day that I did not have it done. This was a mistake. In looking back I was afraid the lipid panel in the report (triglycerides, cholesterol etc.) would only confirm what I already strongly suspected … that the results would be dangerously out of range. There is no excuse for my stupidity, only a poor reason - I was desperate. Do not make the same mistake I did if you are new. Have the lab work done and drink plenty of water. These are the only suggestions we will make about what you should or shouldn’t do.
Some of my results:
Blood pressure, 100/70. My total cholesterol, 210, was in the borderline range. I have been told that a result of less than 200 is desirable. I have no idea what it was a year ago so I have nothing to compare it to. For all I know it may have been 400. Like I said – I made a foolish mistake not having the blood work done in the beginning. Triglycerides: 63. HDL cholesterol: 58. LDL- cholesterol: 139. Chol/HDLC ratio: 3.62. My potassium level, 5.4, was a little high – the desirable range is 3.5-5.3. I was taking a potassium supplement, which I have discontinued. My doctor asked me “what made you decide to lose the weight.”
I answered with a straight face “you told me to lose weight the last time I saw you.” I think I made his day.
In an effort to build lean muscle and energize my training I have begun to cautiously increase my consumption of carbohydrate. My CCLM is approx. 50 grams of carbohydrate daily. I have found that “Trainerdan” whose advice can be found in the body opus and general exercise forums is a wonderful source of information. His CDK approach for added firepower in the gym is helping me plan the next stage of my development. This is a big step for me. It will be very difficult for me to see that number on the scale go up even if the added weight is lean muscle. My fear results from the fact that I was so fat for so long. I will need all the help I can get with this one.
Karen continues to follow the OWL (ongoing weight loss) plan found in “Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution.” It is not uncommon, however, for her to consume only an induction level of carbohydrate on some days. There is no finish line for us, no destination for us to be early or late for. The journey is on going.
Although our story has been primarily about the physical aspects of our new way of life, it would be incomplete if I failed to mention two other equally important changes… greater emotional balance and renewed spirituality. When dealing with other people and conflicts arise we now say to one another “just because they have invited us to an argument doesn’t mean we have to show up.” We used food to deal with stress. Today we try to look at food as being no different than the gas we put in our car. It is simply fuel. Do we miss the hot fudge sundaes, French fries and pizza? The answer is yes, sometimes we do. All things, both good and bad, have a price.
Spiritually we have a greater awareness of whatever it is that makes the grass grow the rainfall and a bird sing. We attend church regularly and Karen has actually gotten me to join her singing in the choir. I’ve gone from being a reclusive agnostic to a choirboy! Our only explanation is that a new level of confidence has stirred within us since we took charge of our lives. We are contacting old friends, making new ones and having fun. We try to quietly go about our business. Karen is more spiritually fit than I am. I am becoming better connected though. Thank you, Father.
We have tried not to tell anyone what to do or how to do it.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a few that tell our story better than we would ever be able to. Stay focused. dankar