She has been following the AH program for six months and has celebrated several life-changing non-scale victories! Kathleen’s upbeat attitude and engaging storytelling makes this a story you definitely want to read!
“I discovered Dr. Ludwig after I reposted an article on social media from the New York Times called “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet”. A friend responded with a link to an interview Dr. Ludwig gave on Boston Public radio WGBH, and this lead me to his book “Always Hungry?”. As I read the book, my husband’s arm grew bruised from the number of times I smacked his arm, gasped and said, “listen to THIS!” then set about reading excerpts aloud. All the struggles of my dietary life now made sense. I had been eating exactly opposite of how I should have been—for 30 years.
After the first couple days on the AH program I woke up in the morning, recalled that I had eaten nuts and avocados in the SAME day, and said to my husband, “this diet scares the s*@& out of me.” But now with six months under my belt, I will never eat any differently. And let me be clear: the AH way of life has not made me drop the last ten pounds.
All of my progress has been non-scale victories: I am no longer afraid to eat, I have recently stopped making appointments with my electrologist to control excessive facial hair, I can go hours without getting hungry, I do not walk around with a dull headache all day, I am less in conflict with myself. These are huge victories after a 30-year battle with myself.
When I was 21 years-old I was working as a YMCA horse-back riding instructor. I was not overweight, but I read a book called “Fit or Fat” by Covert Bailey. I learned that at 9 calories per gram, fat was the enemy, and at 4 calories per gram carbs and protein were the nutrition champions. Simply put, he said, “don’t eat fat and you won’t get fat.” That made sense, so I adhered. I ate sugar unchecked, but allowed no fat to cross my lips.
And I spent the next 20 years gaining weight despite being a BIG exerciser. I also developed cystic acne, male-pattern coarse facial hair growth that required an intimate relationship with an electrologist. Simultaneously the hair on my head fell out in handfuls and got thinner and thinner.
After one successful pregnancy, infertility and miscarriages plagued me through the end of my 30s. I saw an endocrinologist who put me on thyroid medication. (An aside: I expressed dismay about my excessive hair growth, but he said my testosterone levels were just high for a female. In fact, he added that it probably helped my sex drive, and that my husband must be happy about that.)
Through that entire period of my life I continued to try to eat less, cut out more fat, and I ran, biked, skated, and hiked. I had grrrreat endurance and a grrrreat big butt, along with a solid belief that I was just a fatty…and a freak-of-nature hairy one at that!
At age forty-one I began weight-training and it transformed my physique. I stopped doing runs and races and I trained harder. And harder. At age 44 I started a blog, “Old Broad, New Bod”, and I entered a natural bodybuilding competition. It was a blast, but I could not sustain the diet. Days after the competition I began gaining weight again, and reaching new chapters in self-loathing.
At 45 I signed up with a new trainer. I got strong as an ox, reached and held the female record for straight-legged, wide-grip pullups in a single set at my gym (21). I could squat my husband at cocktail parties as entertainment… and yet, I still struggled with my weight. I stayed at 1400 calories a day, eating endless tilapia and chicken breasts, and taking my own food everywhere. I didn’t like my food, but was afraid of anything other than my prescribed diet, and most days I walked about with a perpetual hollow feeling, and a dull headache.
I would eat breakfast, pack my meals for work, get dressed, pull out of the driveway to start my commute, and immediately want to rummage in my lunch box. My stomach was usually growling 10 minutes into my drive and I would dole out a bite of a protein bar every 15 minutes. I had controlled my diet and exercise so much that it restricted my life. And yet I still couldn’t get the “icing off” as my trainer would say. Looking back at my food log, I now know why.
At age 51, I read AH, and with each word my mind and body said, “AHHH!” I began eating a whole different way. I have spent the last six months retraining myself to feel GOOD when I eat fat, and not reach for rice cakes when I think I need a correction in my diet. This has been the biggest challenge, retraining instincts, along with trying to fight a feeling of anger and lost potential for all the years I was taking the advice of the experts and doing it wrong. The best years for my physical performance have passed, and I wonder what I could have accomplished had I had this knowledge early on. Makes me mad, and sad, but only in slivers between the big swaths of gratitude for Dr. Ludwig’s work and the work of others like him.
At age 51, I have also chosen to revisit a childhood dream to return to the horses. I train as a dressage rider at a small stable near my home. I had ditched this dream early on, and allowing it to return has been incredibly fun, and just a little like grabbing the past. I have energy, enthusiasm, and slowly even some growing skills. Eventually I will start weight-training hard again too. But for now I am enjoying a feeling that I am okay as I am.
Advice For Those Just Starting Out
For those just coming to this program, give yourself some time to mourn the way you thought about yourself for all the years when the diet didn’t work; allow yourself to feel anger that the professionals had it wrong; and forgive yourself if you veer off the path as you retrain yourself to eat a new way. Focus on non-scale victories as much, if not more, than the scale, and wherever you are in life’s journey, let this be a time you open back up to the possibilities of who you wanted to be all along.”