Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Author of the book "Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others," 2nd edition published by Dogwise Publishing. Canine Behavior Series at

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Atkins Blessings

Just checking in, since it's been awhile. Still very happily at goal, still pray for guidance if the scale readings over a few days concern me, and still getting answered with marching orders on what to do about it (if anything). Still doing the moderate exercise including simple therapy pedal exerciser at my desk chair while reading a book, and indoor walking since I'm allergic to all outdoors. Still in ketosis.

Dr. Atkins would approve of what I eat. It's not as liberal as a hard exerciser or a man or a younger woman in maintenance, but it's very comfortable. I'm definitely not deprived. I've been on Atkins since 1/30/2002, and am still on my One Golden Shot. Not anti-yeast or even gold standard, just plain Atkins with the individualization Dr. Atkins' book mentions we all have to do.

Hubby still takes me out to eat when I want to go and brings home take-out when I want that. Not necessarily on the exact night I first bring it up, but pretty soon. He does the weekly shopping from my list to keep the stuff on hand for me to eat in lieu of going out or to add to my take out food. Typically the meat might be take out and I cook frozen vegetables and fix my own sauce to go with it.

As of April 24th, I've been at goal, up a little and down a little--currently a couple of pounds below goal--for 2 1/2 years. I still weigh daily. I still feel free of food cravings. It took 21 months to lose the 181 pounds I needed to lose. Prior to starting Atkins I had been very ill and lost 30 pounds, so altogether I'm 211 pounds below top weight, and my weight would bounce above that if I went off Atkins. I would not be able to walk, due to rheumatoid arthritis. But that would not likely be a long-term problem, since I'd be a prime candidate for heart disease and all sorts of complications of diabetes. Yep, I'm committed to Atkins for life.

Not that it's a hardship. Talk about "my yoke is easy and my burden is light," that describes Atkins.

Menopause is clobbering me, but I'm weathering the autoimmune storms rather than take the hormones I know a doctor would just love to put me on. I need to give my body time to adjust. Putting it off would not help. I do need to find some splints to wear at night to remodel these thumbs, though.

I'm not getting the infections I was constantly getting before going on Atkins. The physical problems I'm having are due to inflammation from the drop in estrogen, and as I understand it, the body does adjust. The way it has adjusted on Atkins has given me a lot of faith in that. My fingernails have never been so nice, my hair is doing great, no loose skin on my face (I had three chins!), and all my skin is stronger than it was.

My assistance dog Believer is doing a fantastic job and we took a test earlier this year as a team that made my confidence soar. I'll be starting a new dog probably by the end of this year, and she's helping me get ready by all the things I learn with her. I'm sure she will help train him, too. She's smart and loves to help me do whatever I want to do. She is a blessing on 4 feet. I plan to call the male Redeemer.

I did not realize it until I lost the weight, but I needed to do that in order to be able to train and handle my assistance dog effectively. I could have worked with a program-trained Labrador or Golden as a very heavy person in a wheel chair, but I could not have trained a Belgian Tervuren myself for the work. The dog would have perceived me as needing protection in that chair and that can't happen when an assistance dog is working around the public. Also we would have had a terrible time fitting through tight spaces with a huge wheel chair and a dog at the side. Stores are so crowded these days of every selling inch being so valuable.

I still have a left knee with damaged ligaments, but losing the weight and exercising regularly with the pedal exerciser pulled the ligaments into a snug fit around the joint with strong supporting muscles. I'm careful with it, wear shoes that give me a good feel of the ground and don't slip, and use my dance training to avoid twisting that would reinjure it.

My vestibular balance is very poor from ear damage after 54 years of respiratory allergies, but the kinetic sense from trained muscles compensates, with the dog's help, so I stay on my feet. Very cool how it works. Because of losing that weight, I kept the ability to walk. That's better motivation for me than wearing a size 6 any day.

The length of time I've maintained the weight loss will never "prove" anything. It's not over 'til I'm dead. I didn't get bloodwork or other evidence at the start of Atkins. I'm not writing a book about it. It was a gift from God. It continues to be a miracle. I've read that the purpose of a miracle is to increase faith. For me it has surely done that. For my husband, who watched it happen, it has also increased faith. He has his dream job now. When he saw what happened to me and I told him I was praying for his job; well, now he's doing what he's always wanted to do. He had the faith to step up for it.

As everyone will tell you, maintenance is harder than weight loss. But then again, it's not about will power. It's about surrender. I don't worry like I used to. I don't have the anxiety I used to have. I got into menopause and felt more creative! If this is hard, well, it's hard in a good way.

---Minus 181 pounds on Atkins in 21 months, now at goal weight since 10/24/2003. I'm in the middle of a miracle. Thank you, God.