Better Late Than Never

My first forays into weight control began nearly forty years ago when I was a young cardiologist with a rapidly escalating weight problem and a strong desire to find a hungerfree way to deal with it. When I saw that my initial attempts worked, I was delighted. When I saw how much better I felt, I was happier still. But imagine my pleasure and astonishment when I began to comprehend the relationships between dietary carbohydrates and blood-sugar and insulin levels and the ability to eradicate the need for heart, high blood pressure and diabetes medications. In turn this led to my seeing how much healthier my patients were without the pharmaceuticals. This meant that I was working with a cutting-edge nutritional approach to helping overcome heart disease. This was unquestionably a defining moment in my life. What I now call the Atkins Nutritional Approach was born.

In the intervening decades, I have worked with thousands of heart patients, counseling them to abandon their junk food and eat the natural, healthy food that the Atkins plan emphasizes. And the results continue to support my thesis.

Occasionally, I need to convey the message twice. Fifteen years ago, Stanley Smith came to see me. At the age of 54, as he was helping a neighbor push his broken car into the garage, he had suddenly slumped to the pavement with chest pains. His wife knew a patient of mine who had achieved success doing Atkins, and the Smiths made an appointment with me soon after. Stan weighed 315 pounds and had extreme hyperinsulinism. After six months of doing Atkins, his weight was down to 225, his insulin had stabilized, his blood pressure medication was a thing of the past and, in his own words, "I felt 29 years old instead of 54 "

Stan felt so good that in the next year or two he went back to his carb-laden ways. "I'd have a loaf of bread, half a gallon of ice cream and a quart of milk at one sitting," he recalls.

I didn't see Stan for more than a decade. In that time, his weight ratcheted back up to 310 and he returned to his blood pressure medication. Then about a year ago, on a flight from Florida to New York, he started having chest pain so severe that when the plane landed, he was rushed to a hospital. There he narrowly avoided a close encounter with the operating table. The next week I saw him in my office.

Talk about deja vu. I put Stan back on the Atkins program he had abandoned ten years before and prescribed nutritional supplements. I also gave him adjunctive therapy including EECP (see "Twenty-First Century Diagnosis and Treatment' 'on pages 356-358). Naturally, I told him not to exert himself for a while. Stan tells the rest:

"Every week my wife drove me to my appointments with Dr. Atkins. For the first two weeks, I needed a wheelchair to get out of the car and to the elevator. By week three, I was able to push the wheelchair, using it to steady myself. Week four, I could shuffle up alone. By week five, I was able to drive in myself and walk from the parking garage. Over the next eight months I continued to see Dr. Atkins, and by then I was again leading a completely active, normal lifestyle.

"I'm still doing Atkins. I'm also painting the outside of my house, waxing my sedan and doing yard work. I go fishing and wear boots up to my knees to avoid the native stingrays. Those boots get heavy when they're wet, but carrying around the weight is no longer a problem. At age 69, I feel more robust and vigorous than I did when I was 50."

Stan got lucky. He could have died or suffered permanent, debilitating heart injury before he returned to the Atkins plan. He looks pretty good now; he has lost 60 pounds and is still losing 2 pounds a month, his lab work has improved astonishingly, and I am beginning to believe he will never go back to eating the way he ate before.

Losing Weight Without Starving

Losing Weight Without Starving

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