October 17, 2003
Atkins update -- down 37, again
I haven't posted about Atkins in a while, but I feel like I'm still learning.
My lowest weight achieved in the 11 months since I started Atkins was 220-222, in early to mid-July. I binged for 2 weeks on vacation, and gained 13 pounds, then got back to 222, when I decided I would start to wean myself from the program, but I set a threshold weight, 230, that would trigger full Atkins.
For a month or more, I found a pretty good equilibrium. I might have a Coke every couple of days, or have pizza at lunch with a friend, but my weight stayed down. Most of the carbs I was taking in were of the healthy, high-fiber variety, like whole wheat Total for breakfast.
As October started, I had a lot of changes that led me off the path. I had new employees to have lunch with, I traveled some, and I wasn't exercising, so when I got on the scale sometime last week, and found myself at 234, I wasn't too surprised.
So I'm back on induction, and am already down about 3 pounds. I'm going to try to ride this down below 225, then go back to more normal fare. I think this will work well for me, since the Atkins periods will serve as negative reinforcement, encouraging me to behave when I'm not on it.
August 14, 2003
Hard training ride
I skipped the commute ride on Wednesday, in favor of a Silver Comet Trail ride with my dad. He had to bail for work reasons, but I discovered something interesting: You can actually get to the trail from Atlanta on a bike!
I didn't, but Mapquest gave me a shortest route that was pretty much Paces Ferry Road past Home Depot world headquarters, left on Atlanta Road, right on Cooper Lake, which is the road I usually get to the trailhead on. I've ridden Paces Ferry a lot, and it's a good wide street with plenty of room for bikes, and a few major hills, especially in Vinings. It also features my favorite Atlanta street sign, the "Welcome to Buckhead" sign as you cross the Chattahoochee, miles from what most people would consider Buckhead.
Since Dad bailed, I took the ride up a notch (Bam!), and had the company of my iPod (strangest transition: Fastball's cover of "The Real Me" off Substitute: Songs from the Who to "Ironic" off Alanis Morrissette's jillion-selling angst-fest Jagged Little Pill) to help me really beat myself up.
After the ride (30-45 minutes later), I had another hypoglycemic/bonk experience, like back in December. I fell off the Atkins wagon on vacation in July, and have been back on for about 10 days now, and working out for the last 4, which is very similar to the setup when it happened in December. Since it worked last time, I downed a quick Coke, and had no further ill effects.
I ate pretty much whatever I wanted during the two weeks my family was on vacation (1 week with me, 1 week without): I had Chinese food, Mexican, pizza, Ben & Jerry's, Cokes out the wazoo, and beer, glorious beer. In two weeks, I gained 13 pounds. That is not a typo. On the other hand, in 10 days back on Atkins, I've already dropped 8 or 9 pounds of that, so I suppose it was largely the legendary "water weight".
Overall, I'm sitting at 223 or 224, 5 pounds higher than the lowest I've seen since starting Atkins, down 44-45 since November.
This morning, back to the commute ride. I'm going to try to ride on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, although I probably won't brave anything heavier than a sprinkle.
May 19, 2003
Atkins update: Down 42
Beam had a column on E1 of the April 27th paper called Carbo Cults: The Atkins Diet and the Great American Tradition of Extreme Eating. I would link to it, but the Globe charges $2.95 per story for access to the archives.
I’m the only “real person” quoted in the column, along with such books as Health Food Junkies: Overcoming the Obsession With Healthful Eating and Nature’s First Law: The Raw-Food Diet.
Here’s my bit:
Frank Steele, an Atlanta-based advertising executive whose parents were both Weight Watchers, has been posting his impressive progress with the Atkins diet on his website fsteele.dyndns.org. A recent entry: “I’m considering allowing myself one day off, but the Atkins book suggests doing so would mean another visit from the headaches that accompanied the onset of ketosis way back on the second and third days of the diet.” When I asked him if there were cultish aspects to Atkins, he answered, “There is an aspect of that, I guess. I’m a Macintosh user too, ” he added, half-joking, “so I’m fairly comfortable in that kind of a world.” Because he and his wife are both thriving on the Atkins regime, I asked him how they ever planned to get off. Steele is thinking of transferring his allegiance to the common-sense principles of the Harvard nutrition professor Walter Willett, who has reaped much publicity for his critique of the US Department of Agriculture’s “food pyramid.” As for Steele’s wife, she has moved on to the next, post-New Diet Revolutionary stage: “Atkins for Life.”
The diet lives after him; the food lies interred with his bones.
Not to get all crotchety, but Alex took what I said and came up with whatever served his purpose. I pretty distinctly said that I felt like Weight Watchers was more cultish than Atkins, with weekly affirmations, group leaders, and semi-public weigh-ins.
I allowed that there is a certain shared knowledge that gets discussed when you’re around other Atkins dieters, but that’s true of any subculture, from Linux geeks to hiphop fans to Game Boy users. I don’t think it rises to the level of a real cult, which is why the “there is an aspect of that, I guess.” I thought I emphasized the empiricism of Atkins for us: we’re on it because it works, not necessarily because we believe in it, especially for the long term. That’s why I’m considering going to something more along the lines of the Willett plan, which seems to represent current best practices of nutrition and public health professionals. It’s not really about “switching allegiance.” We also discussed my relative lack of success on conventional low-fat diets, but that didn’t really fit the profile.
Also, I don’t think I self-identified as an advertising executive, though perhaps I am. Also also, my mother is still a Weight Watcher, and my father has fallen off that wagon since the interview. I don’t want anyone to get the idea from the past tense in the story that they’ve recently died.
I have, by the way, gone off the Atkins straight and narrow a few times lately. I was scared to do TOSRV carb-free, so I gave myself free reign for the weekend. This weekend we went to Chattanooga, and sort of threw up our hands at eating low-carb in a strange place for three days, so we pretty much ate what we pleased there, as well.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the lapses, my weight seems stuck at around 226 or 227, 42 pounds down since November.
March 17, 2003
Atkins update: Down 38
As of this morning, I’m at 230, down 38 or so pounds. I highly recommend that people go on diets when their weight ends in a 2, 3, 7, or, 8 — it gives you more mini-motivators. Since I started at 268, I got a little mental boost after 3 pounds at 265, then at 5 pounds lost, again at 8 pounds for crossing the 260 threshold, and again at 10 pounds for losing 10 pounds. If I had started at 270, I would have had half as many ego boosts over the last 4 months…
I had a pleasant chat with a reporter from Boston’s newspaper of record on Thursday. His editor located the site through Google, and suggested a story. I got the decided impression that the story suggestion was “How about a story on food nuts?” since the reporter was also planning to talk to a “whole foods” advocate. He was interested in any religious aspects to Atkins — “Do you see this as a cult? Is it something you intend to do for your whole life?”
I told him I see Weight Watchers (no link, since their site tells me to upgrade from Camino .7 to view it) as more of a religion than Atkins. My parents have both done Weight Watchers, and part of what makes it work is the structure: the rules for eating, the peer pressure of the weekly semi-public weigh-in, the motivation and lessons of the group leader.
Christy and I are doing Atkins out of empiricism, not faith. In case the skeptics are right, we’ve increased our supplement intake (multivitamin, calcium, fiber supplement) and our water intake (and how). I’m still not convinced that I understand why Atkins works, but I’m pretty certain that, for the two of us, at least, it does.
Check out my Atkins archive for even more on low-carb eating.
Staff of life, now with 50 percent less carbs!
Other than a couple of cheats, I haven’t had bread since November. A family member who has been on Atkins recommended Nature’s Own Reduced Carbohydrate bread. Each slice has 7 grams of carbohydrate, but 2 grams are fiber, so only 5 grams per slice count against your daily total.
I put two slices around some roast beef and swiss, and enjoyed it. The texture is just a tiny bit different than regular bread, but much softer and fluffier than gluten bread.
Interestingly, over at BoingBoing, I found a new link to this story about the grain growers launching an anti-“Fatkins” campaign, also aimed at affecting the upcoming revisions to the RDA food pyramid.
March 04, 2003
Atkins Update: Eating on the road
When I stepped on the scales this morning, I was down 37 pounds. I suppose that means I’m over the hump, since another 37 pounds would put me below my lowest post-high school weight.
I thought I would write a little on the torment of Atkins on the road, based on my trip to Miami. I planned ahead, and carried some low-carb bars along on the trip, but you can’t pack enough food for 4 days on a plane trip.
I had the tiny bag of snack mix on the plane down with water. At the conference, there was one meal at the hotel — the standard rubber chicken on rice, with a salad. I ate some of the salad and avoided the rice. Later, on South Beach, I had jerk grouper on mashed potatoes, and ate the mashed potatoes (gasp!).
Breakfast was hard, since my traveling companions were eating the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast, so I had bottled water. Tuesday evening, I ordered a small pizza, and ate half the crust and all the (meat and cheese) topping.
Wednesday, I skipped breakfast, and finally got a late lunch at the airport, where I had a chicken sandwich from Au Bon Pain. Yes, I ate the bread.
It’s strange, because I’ve gotten this far by rigidly avoiding the carbs, but once I hit the road, I adopted a more pragmatic approach. Even with a few more carbs sneaking in, I still lost 2 or 3 pounds last week.
February 16, 2003
Atkins update: Leaping off the wagon
Part reward, part motivation -- we ate a regular meal out last night.
Proof that learned behaviors die hard, I took a big swig of the Coke when it came, and got a major head rush. We had chips and salsa, and I had french fries AND KETCHUP. Those Heinz people know what they're doing.
The surprise was the tremendous corn on the cob. I was raised eating fresh Ohio corn and visiting the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival every year, but this was the best single ear of corn I've ever had.
Today, it's back on the program.
February 04, 2003
Atkins update: down 30
Eleven weeks down, and I'm down 30 (maybe 31) pounds. Still bored.
Not really craving any of my old favorites, but ready for some more variety. I'm considering allowing myself one day off, but the Atkins book suggests doing so would mean another visit from the headaches that accompanied the onset of ketosis way back on the second and third days of the diet.
Yesterday, I wore a suit I hadn't worn in 2 weeks or so, and I felt like David Byrne: "This is not my beautiful suit...."
January 07, 2003
Atkins update: down 20
Not a lot to report, but I will anyway, since I've reached a milestone. I'm down 20 pounds in the 7 weeks I've been on Atkins.
I haven't had another Coke since the one about 2 weeks in. I did sneak 2 french fries after a hard day moving a friend, but more for the novelty than anything else. I wanted to see if they would drive me into a reasonless potato lust, and how I would physically react to them. It was all anticlimax. They were fine, but that one taste certainly didn't leave me craving more.
We have tried some of the Atkins alternative foods. Some of the chocolate is pretty good. My mother made us some hamburger buns out of the Atkins bake mix, and it was nice to have something vaguely bread-like cradling the burger, but the consistency is closer to cornbread than bun. Christy likes the milkshakes, and I have started using sugarless breath mints to fill the hole left by Altoids.
My verdict is unchanged: This seems a tolerable way to lose weight, but it's not a lifetime destination. It's very hard to start making a change when I'm still losing 2-3 pounds every week.
December 16, 2002
Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike beer
I had seen some stories about Michelob Ultra. It's a beer primarily being marketed toward people on Atkins, since it has only 2.9 grams of carbohydrate (and 95 calories) per 12-oz. serving.
It was nice to drink something that wasn't water, but I think I would have enjoyed a twist of lemon more. It was like the cheap beers of my undergraduate days, and less.