Tag Archives: Atkins

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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Jello

Scrumptious Saturday: Seven Delicious Low-Carb Snacks

I am loving being back on the Atkins low-carb lifestyle for over three months now. It’s satisfying, healthy, easy to follow and best of all — it actually works! And for anyone concerned about the prevalence of diabetes in their family tree, it can also help prevent or manage that condition. Although I’ve been happily moving along on the plan, it occurred to me I haven’t really shared a whole lot of low-carb recipes and/or food suggestions so I thought I’d start by posting my seven favorite low-carb snacks. Give them a try!

1. Sliced Cucumbers with Tzatziki Sauce – As a longtime lover of Greek food dating back to the days when as a little girl I’d consistently show up on the doorstep of our Greek neighbors just in time for dinner, I am thrilled that this one is part of the low-carb regimen. A great source of Vitamin A, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Manganese and Vitamin C, cucumbers are just one of the many “good carbs” permitted on the plan. Peel and slice one up, then dip it in homemade tzatsziki sauce, and voila! A healthy, delicious low-carb snack to keep you going in between meals.

2. Strawberries with Prosciutto – If you’re on Atkins, this is only permissible after you’ve completed Phase One, which is the most restrictive part of the diet. Once you’re into Phase 2 you can add 1 cup of berries a day into your plan (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries). Although I love them all, I recently had strawberries with prosciutto at a friend’s house as an appetizer and immediately fell in love with this simple yet savory morsel. Prosciutto — a delectable Italian ham — is typically present in signature dishes like Antipasto, or served with honeydew (not on the list of approved fruits for low-carb dieters).  This was the first time I’d ever eaten it with strawberries and it will definitely not be the last! So take one cup of fresh strawberries, wrap them individually in a slice of Prosciutto and get ready to savor every bite!

3. Roasted Peppers with Provolone – Ah, Italian Soul Food! Recently when out at an Italian restaurant to celebrate a special occasion I was thrilled when I spotted this on the menu as an appetizer. I was really hungry and feeling a bit tempted by the tantalizing homemade Italian bread they’d placed on the table. So I quickly ordered roasted peppers with provolone, as my low-carb kick-off to a fantastic feast (I went on to order veal with an extra helping of grilled vegetables instead of pasta). If you’re in a rush or don’t have either the time or the inclination to roast them yourself, I highly recommend Mancini Roasted Peppers which you can buy at pretty much any grocery chain or specialty market. Ditto for the provolone cheese, though if you live anywhere near a big city with an Italian Market, I’d suggest purchasing the cheese there. You’ll get better quality for an even better value. Slice up the peppers, cut up the cheese and savor the low-carb goodness — Italian style!

4. Guacamole with Veggies and Cheese – LOVE guacamole, which happens to be a good fat and thus, totally legal. Baja Cafe in Boca makes the best I’ve ever had but if you don’t live in South Florida and want to make your own here’s a great recipe for the Best Guacamole Ever. Sorry, tortilla chips are forbidden but you can slice up raw veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini for dipping, and even slice up your favorite hard cheese as an accompaniment.

5. Meatballs with Parmesan Cheese – When I was young I really disliked tomato sauce and would often eat meatballs right out of the oven. And now that I’m grown up and following a low-carb plan, I still love to eat them this way.  If you want to make your own meatballs (which is my preference), the only ingredient to skip in this meatball recipe is the breadcrumbs, which you can substitute with low-carb breadcrumbs like these from Dixie Diner. Serve piping hot right out of the oven and you have a scrumptious, high-protein snack that will keep going until your next meal!

6. Peppers and Eggs – More Italian soul food! I just love peppers and eggs, not only as a snack but often as a main meal. Slice up and sauté fresh bell peppers in some olive oil on the stove. Scramble up a few eggs with heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. When the peppers are tender, add the eggs to the pan. Continue cooking until scrambled eggs are  at your preferred consistency. Serve and enjoy!

7. Sugar-Free Jell-O with Real Whipped Cream – Perfect if you don’t have time to dissemble the kitchen, this snack is easily portable and really satisfies the sweet tooth if you just need something that tastes like dessert. My favorite flavors are strawberry and cherry, but you can also find sugar-free flavors like raspberry and orange at the supermarket. Top with real whipped cream like Reddi-Wip. Or make your own.

Got a low-carb recipe you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments. :)

 

 

 

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Atkins Diary — 12 Weeks Down!

Wow — I am so excited to have finally reached this milestone! Twelve weeks/three months of adherence to the Atkins plan after recommitting myself to the low-carb lifestyle in front of my “witnesses”, my mom and sister. It definitely feels great!

When I first started publishing these weekly updates as a way to hold myself accountable and hopefully inspire my blog readers seeking to lose weight, I shared how I’d once been wildly successful on the Atkins diet when a co-worker introduced me to it in 1999, and how I’d managed to maintain my new weight after shedding nearly 40 pounds, for a few years thereafter.

Then somewhere around 2003, following some trying personal and professional life events I fell off the low-carb wagon and back into some fattening (so to speak) sugar/bread/bad carb habits. So it wasn’t too shocking when before long I gained everything back and even put on a few extra. Hey, Atkins is a wonderful program but like any other diet, if you don’t adhere to its principles eventually you’ll find yourself right back where you started….or worse, with even more weight to lose. This time around I am determined to learn the lesson that no matter how challenging life may become, it’s imperative to control the things that are within my ability.

And that long list of items within our control includes choosing to eat the right foods, engaging in regular exercise, taking proper supplements (more on that in another post), drinking plenty of water daily (for me, a minimum of 64 oz per day) and maintaining a positive attitude. This is by no means all-inclusive, but you get the idea. Life comes at us fast and furious — a fusion of uplifting, exciting, joyful, sorrowful, stressful and tragic occurrences — or as someone once said,  it’s the best of times and the worst of times all the time. As nice as it would be to compartmentalize, it just doesn’t work that way.

In terms of healthy weight management, the key is to refuse to allow anything that is within your control (attitude, e.g.) slip away and drive you further into the orbit of an accelerating cycle of bad eating eating habits where comfort foods like mashed potatoes, french fries and sugar-laden treats become a source of short-term consolation. Which really means they become a long-term contributing factor to your blue mood. Because when upsetting things happen, gaining weight and then beating yourself up mentally when you cannot zip up your favorite jeans will only make you feel 100 times worse. Been there, done that many, many times over.

Celebrating my brother Ralph's 50th in 2009.

Which reminds me: whether you’re still in weight-loss mode (as I am right now) or on maintenance it’s a guarantee that life — apparently indifferent to your dieting goals — will throw plenty of benign obstacles in your path as well. Otherwise known as special occasions and holidays, these events are almost always accompanied by decidedly high-carb, high-sugar villains like birthday cake, ice-cream and cocktails. It’s silly to think your social life is going to stop and wait until you reach your coveted goal of slipping into an itsy bitsy bikini just in time for beach season, or that you can  become a hermit and avoid all exposure to (bad) carbohydrate-laden celebrations altogether. You want to lose weight, not cherished friendships and other important relationships.

So what’s a Low Carb Diva to do?

Plan ahead. Most of us get plenty of lead time for such festivities which means you can prepare yourself prior to the big event by limiting your digressions from the diet (come on, you know it’s going to happen once in a while) and planning exactly what will be worthy of cheating the day or night of the big soiree. For example, if you’re headed to a surprise birthday party where they’ll be serving your favorite double-chocolate cake with raspberry filling, make that your ONLY non-low-carb choice and in all other food decisions stick to the plan. Or if you’re really dying for a specialty drink, have one and skip the cake. And when you wake up the next day, get right back to it.

Important Caveat: DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP!

This is why you’re actually taking the time to plan your diet diversion…so it won’t derail you from success. If you’re going to mentally harass yourself for doing so, my advice would be to forego the cake or the drink altogether because it’s just not worth the aggravation. Trust me, I have more experience with this than I care to admit.

Finally, a few new food-related items worthy of mention. This week I did get around to trying a new Atkins product, which I highly recommend: Day Break Creamy Chocolate Shake. With chocolate, you can never be quite sure if it will make the transition to a dietetic version while maintaining a semblance of its authentically delicious taste but these shakes certainly do. Great for when you’re on the run and don’t have time to make eggs for breakfast, or just need a pick-me-up in between meals, they can be purchased online or at retail stores like Wal-Mart and/or grocery chains like Giant (both places tend to sell them at least $1 cheaper than anywhere else).

Also, thanks to my Low-Carb Diva buddy Lisa Brinks, I discovered how my morning coffee can become even more awesome by using heavy whipping cream (no carbs). Tried it the other day and I’m hooked! As if being able to use Half and Half wasn’t enough reason to be thankful….;).

So there you have it, this week’s Atkins update. If you’re thinking about starting or are already following the plan, I hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comments….and keep living and loving the low-carb lifestyle!

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