I am not a journalist, though I am going to attempt to fake my way through it and relate a story I heard from someone I know very well who I haven’t talked to in over a year.
I saw her the other day and she had lost considerable weight. She had been morbidly obese for over 30 years, and did the endless routine of dieting and gaining for all that time, never really putting a significant dent in all that weight.
But now she was noticeably different. Very different. She was under 200 for the first time in 30 years. I asked her what happened.
She told me that it started when her doctor told her that she had a severe case of metabolic syndrome, her total cholesterol was over 1000, and that she had better get her affairs in order, because he didn’t know if she’d be here in a year – and he didn’t know how to help her.
She was already taking statins to reduce her cholesterol and Byetta to control her diabetes – there wasn’t much more that he could think of – and surgery of any kind was out of the question because he doubted she’d survive.
She went home and thought about dying – pretty much gave away all her possessions – prepared herself. Thought a lot about dying.
Then she decided to try Atkins.
She loved it, but it almost killed her. It began to throw off her numbers for her liver and kidneys. Her doctor told her: “I myself went on Atkins and it works for a lot of people, but it’s not for you. Because of your existing conditions it just doesn’t work on you. In a way, this might have been a good experiment, because it revealed a number of other things about your health that I didn’t know.”
She told me all this and wondered, if all this was true, how did she lose more than 100 lbs? She told me she became a vegan.
She laughed at how we couldn’t possibly be more opposite in our lifestyles – and how we’d be the perfect pair at a party as I’d be able to eat the parts she couldn’t – and vice versa.
She told me that the book that most influenced her was Skinny Bitch – my take on this is a politically incorrect take on veganism – probably a hit with the PETA crowd as they are a pretty strident group.
I asked her how she could possibly stay on such a restrictive diet. This is not a person who I recall fitting a vegan’s profile – we talked about how we both like roast beef and provolone roll-ups – so it was unexpected that she’d embrace veganism.
She told me the fear of death was what made her stay on it.
“My doctor can’t believe my blood work – all my numbers are normal now. I seem to be actually reversing heart disease.”
I asked her how she can possibly do this in a house full of other people who don’t follow the same diet. She told me it was hard, but the thought of leaving her husband, kids, and grandkids behind kept her on track – and the fear that just one little cheat would reverse all her hard work (raise your hands if you’ve been there).
“My doctor told me I now have a chance to live a normal lifespan.”
That’s her story, and what can you say except: more power to you, girl. You go with what works. She’s happy eating her soy cheese and tofu and chickpeas – and feels better than she has in years.
Being told you’re gonna die can have that sort of effect over you. It changes things. I’m glad her doctor was so blunt with her and didn’t sugar-coat things.
Maybe she won’t be reading this blog, but that’s ok – I know there’s more than one right way to do things, and there’s no need to diss what works for other people.
And I know that Atkins is not for everyone.