Kent Altena, Iowa
My Story: I was the typical overweight kid. My parents started charting my weight when I was 6 years old. I don't recall it helping, and I was usually the tallest slowest person in my class. By the time I reached high school, teenage hormones caused me to lose a lot of weight. During high school, I joined the National Guard and went through Basic Training. I weighed at that time about 180 pounds and ran my two-mile PT test in less than twelve minutes, which seems amazing to me now.
After high school, I married my high school sweetheart. Over the next few years, I went to college and grad school, worked way too much, and wasn’t paying any attention to my body. After six years of military service, I was already on the “fat man's list” and had problems passing the PT test. I endured another three years of ridicule due to the excess weight, and eventually had to leave the service. I had tried many times to lose the weight, but I never had prolonged success with any diet or exercise program.
Gradually, the weight began to affect other areas of my life. I tried to convince myself that being happy was more important than being healthy. What a fool I was... I eventually got to a point where climbing stairs was difficult, and in meetings, I had to disguise the fact that I was out of breath. I also suffered from a severe case of sleep apnea that caused me to fall asleep several times at stop lights. I definitely saw the problems. Eventually, a car accident drove me to stop ignoring the problems and seek real change.
I started trying to lose weight on my own using low fat or moderation plans. I also tried exercising, but only succeeded in dislocating my kneecap playing basketball. Over the next 8 months, I lost a grand total 10 pounds. The weight loss hardly seemed worth the effort. In January 2004, my brother decided to do the Atkins diet. I viewed his weight loss efforts with skepticism and some derision about the ""fad"" diet. He proceeded to lose 65 pounds. I realized if he could do it, I should at least try. I had little hope that it would work, but I decided to give it a shot. If it didn’t work, I could always follow through on weight loss surgery plans.
Initially, my goal was to get down to 225, but that number was just arbitrary. I was really just looking to be as fit as possible. The end number was unimportant to me as my life and the journey turned out to be the most important things.
How Atkins Helped Get Me There: After a false start eating foods not on the Atkins Induction Acceptable Foods list, I knew I needed to read the book. I started officially on March 31, 2004. My Atkins life was not without problems. During Induction, I went from a jovial person unhappy with his weight to an irritable and grouchy person as all my routines and comfort foods, like pizza and a 4 liter per day Diet Dew habit, had been deemed not acceptable. I am thankful my wife stuck with me during those few weeks because I am sure I wasn’t pleasant to be around. However, the miracle of all miracles started to happen. The scale started to show weight loss. Not the painfully slow weight loss of the past attempts, but fast weight loss. Every day was like Christmas as I was dropping pounds a day.
My spirits picked up as did my relationships with others. Coworkers saw what was going on with me and although initially skeptical, congratulated me for my success. I resumed my exercise plan, and started walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day. This way of living started giving me more and more energy, so I tried new cardio activities, like stair climbing and elliptical trainer. I also rediscovered my love of biking and being outdoors. I also discovered a new joy of running. I completed my first half marathon – the Des Moines Half Marathon in 2006, and I completed my first full marathon in 2007. I may not win the actual race, but each race I run is one more I personally win over my past self. I continue to prove that long distance endurance events do not need to be preceded by carb-loading and other attempts to fuel one’s muscles with glycogen.
Within fifteen months, I reached my goal of 225 pounds, and eventually got down to 218. I saw other benefits as well. The sleep apnea, which could have had fatal consequences, had been eliminated. I also met a wonderful group of people through the Atkins Diet Bulletin Board, an online weight loss support group. I couldn’t have lost the weight or stayed as motivated without these people, and I remain in their debt. I have also used my weight loss story to inspire many others on YouTube.
None of this would have been possible with Atkins. Thank you so very much.