Atkins Diary — 15 Weeks Down!

Ralph and me, having a blast at Carolyn's party.
The other day in a post about Ralph, I mentioned an uplifting family event on the horizon which I could not yet discuss in detail. Well that celebration — my sister Carolyn’s Surprise 50th Birthday Party — took place this Saturday night and it was fabulous! In another post I will detail my party planning, including the magnificent roses we ordered from Giant Supermarket (yes, you read that correctly!) to use for the centerpieces. Mom and I took the lead on a few key elements like decor, disc jockey and other flourishes, so between party-planning and taking care of Ralph’s issues it’s been a little harrowing. Especially when my extremely intelligent sister (who works as a medical malpractice defense lawyer for doctors) is a master of “interrogation”; I almost spilled the beans a few times so it was a huge relief to finally see her genuinely shocked face when everyone yelled “Surprise”!

Seriously, she’d be great in the CIA or FBI if she ever decided to give up law.

Anyway, back to Atkins. Another week has passed with mostly positive results. The red dress I purchased from Boscov’s for the party (without actually trying on), was actually a bit big although thankfully not obvious to other people. And up until last Friday when I made four batches of Italian Wedding Cookies, my momentum of adherence to the plan had remained strong. But unfortunately, I caved into trying a few of my creations (had to make sure they tasted good, right?) which turned out exceptionally well thanks in part to using real lemon extract, not the imitation stuff.

Cousin Annie (left) and nieces Julianna and Alexa pose for a photo with me.
The day of the party, I stuck to the diet and once the celebration was underway at Springfield Country Club, even managed to skip the high-carb hot hors d’oeuvres in favor of sampling two Atkins friendly scallops wrapped in bacon. I also skipped the pasta course, preferring to wait for the salad and main entree of prime rib (melt-in-the-mouth awesomeness), green beans almondine (one of my favorites) and…ok I will admit it….a few forkfuls of mashed potatoes (and yes, I have missed those!).

Later I did have a few bites of cake and a scoop of silky smooth vanilla ice cream, the kind you can only enjoy at events such as these.

Fortunately, I danced most of the night away thanks to Tom Barrett Disc Jockeys (more about them in my party post), which hopefully helped to offset the previously eschewed carb and sugar infusions. But as my I’ve noted from the beginning: life will keep happening in spite of the fact that you’re on a diet and sometimes that means making allowances. So I carefully chose my battles; I gave up the pasta and ate a few mouthfuls of mashed potatoes (leaving most of them on the plate); opted for the low-carb hors d’oeuvres (even though I was really dying to try the mini-quesadillas, spanakopita and pigs in the blanket) and ate some (but not all) of my cake.

And yes, I had ice cream.

You know what?

The world didn’t stop. I went right back on the diet the next day and have been back on plan ever since. And in a way, that’s another kind of victory because it’s proof that I can emotionally let go of the fact that I “cheated” on the diet (which usually leads to a downward spiral of bad eating). No regrets, but no excuses…right back to it beginning with breakfast the next day.

As for Ralph, he had an absolute blast and it was incredible to watch him laugh, smile, gyrate, twist, dance, sing and enjoy life with his own special flair once again. Aside from my sister being truly surprised, that was the highlight of my evening.

Have a great week!

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Atkins Diary — 14 Weeks Down!

I’m still going strong on Atkins, though this cold/allergy thing has really hung on and depressed my appetite this past week. So while I never actually broke down and ate any of the “comfort foods” I typically crave when not feeling well, the only “cheating” I did was not eat as much as you’re required to do on the diet. Which meant I did skip some meals and when I did eat, I stuck mainly to protein (a cup of Greek yogurt or a bunless burger with grilled red onions), essentially moving back to Phase One by default.

For whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat salad — which I normally love and consume with both lunch and dinner on a daily basis — or even my favorite veggies like green beans, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower. But I did manage to resist delicious Hershey’s chocolate when we visited Hershey’s Chocolate World last Tuesday with Ralph. Truth be told, I just didn’t have an interest in the Hershey’s kisses, Hershey bars and other goodies that accompanied our Hershey Trolley Tour and Chocolate Factory Tour — which is definitely NOT me. Whatever I had certainly did a number on my tastebuds.

But illness aside, I have noticed a decrease in my appetite over the last few weeks which I attribute to the fact that the foods I’m eating on Atkins are so nutritious and satisfying I don’t need to eat as much.

Anyway, now that it’s finally HOT here and I am wearing summer clothing I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my shorts, tops and sundresses. No, I still haven’t stepped on the scale and I don’t plan to until I reach maybe 16 weeks (I’ve got so much momentum now I don’t want to ruin it by obsessing over numbers) but I’m happy with what I’m noticing at this point and feel like I’ve settled back into the low-carb lifestyle after too many years away. Reading some of these Atkins Success Stories on a daily basis is also helping to keep me motivated.

Honestly though, I don’t crave sugar the way I used to, which is pretty amazing in and of itself (though I’m fairly certain that Hershey’s chocolate would have presented a HUGE temptation had I been feeling well).

So how does this “crazy” Atkins Diet work anyway?

Atkins turns your body into a fat-burning machine.

Metabolism is the process that converts food into either energy or your body’s building blocks. Eating the right foods can increase your body’s metabolism, particularly how it handles fat. When you eat fewer carb foods—relying mostly on vegetables rich in fiber—your body switches to burning fat (including your own body fat) instead of carbs as its primary fuel source.
Get an exit pass off the blood sugar roller coaster.

When you digest foods high in carbs, they convert to glucose (sugar), which your bloodstream transports throughout your body. A rise in blood glucose level triggers the release of the hormone insulin, which moderates your glucose level. (For more information, see The Role of Insulin in Managing Blood Sugar.) So carb intake is largely responsible for blood sugar fluctuations. Food need not taste sweet—think mashed potatoes and white bread—to convert rapidly to glucose.

Because your body can store no more than half a day’s energy supply of glucose—unlike our ability to store almost limitless amounts of fat—it makes sense that we burn as much carbohydrate as we can as soon as it’s digested and absorbed. After each carb-heavy meal or snack, your body stops burning off fat as your insulin level escalates to deal with the rising tide of blood sugar. Fat calories are always pushed to the back of the line—where more than likely they’re stored. That’s why insulin is called the “fat hormone.” As long as your body keeps turning glucose into fat, you’re doomed to being heavy.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why cutting your carb intake and eating mostly whole food carbohydrates is the core premise of the Atkins Diet.

By changing the balance of carbs, fats and protein in your diet, you boost your energy level and keep it on an even keel.

When you eat foods composed primarily of protein, fat and fiber, your body produces far less insulin. And when the carbs you do eat are in the form of high-fiber whole foods, which convert to glucose relatively slowly, your blood sugar level holds steady, along with your energy level. You don’t crave a fast-fix energy booster in the form of sugary, starchy food. And you’re less hungry at meals.

This perfectly normal process of burning primarily fat for energy has a welcome side effect: weight loss.

There’s nothing strange or risky about a primarily fat metabolism. In fact, fat is your body’s back-up energy source. The ability to carry a “fanny pack” of energy in the form of fat actually helped our distant ancestors survive in times of famine and when hunters returned home empty handed.

Just to be clear, eating fats doesn’t make you fat as long as you give your body permission to burn them.

Place the blame where it belongs: overeating and overreacting to carbs. And herein lies the not-so-secret secret of the Atkins Diet and the key to weight loss—and later weight maintenance—without cravings or undue hunger.

If you’re already on Atkins or thinking about starting, join us at Low Carb Divas on Facebook, where we do our best to keep each other motivated as we all work toward our individual goals.

And check out this fascinating biography of Dr. Atkins and the story of the Atkins Diet:

Check back in with you next Tuesday!

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Atkins Diary — 13 Weeks Down!

I’ve reached another milestone in my re-commitment to the low-carb lifestyle, moving beyond three months and into the beginning of the fourth, still as energized and excited as ever! The only downside this week has been catching some sort of bug which meant dealing with a sour stomach and sore throat for the past few days. So it’s been difficult to actually eat — a vital and necessary component of the plan if one’s goal is to stay in ketosis (fat-burning) and thus shed pounds. I did skip a few meals, but managed to at least drink protein shakes and eat plain Greek yogurt with Truvia, even if my exercise routine went on the back burner. And I’ll admit to experiencing an uncharacteristic craving for “comfort food” e.g. pretzels, mashed potatoes and oatmeal, the kind of stuff I tend to want when not feeling well. But I resisted temptation and even purchased sugar-free throat lozenges to stay on track. Although I am definitely on the mend, I’m not quite over it yet.

If you missed it this past Saturday, I posted seven delicious low-carb snacks to help you add more variety to your plan. I also highly recommend checking out the fabulous recipes posted at the Atkins site. They offer such a tantalizing array of appetizers, entrees, desserts and more in just about every type of cuisine you can imagine, so there’s never a reason to get bored or frustrated.

I am so thrilled to be back on Atkins after too many years away — and I can’t wait to post photos of me wearing some of the outfits I haven’t been able to get into for way too long! In the meantime, here’s Courtney Thorne-Smith describing her own experience with Atkins:

If you’re living the low-carb lifestyle, please share your best tips, advice and recipes. Onward to Week 14 for me! 🙂

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