'There Are No Shortcuts'
FRITZ EICHELBERGER, 41, South Tampa Height: 6 feet Starting weight: 260 Current weight: 195Why I did it: I was very active with exercising, but I never exercised enough to keep from gaining weight. Blood tests showed a sugar- and carb-intolerant metabolism. My metabolism did not process the carbs I ate efficiently. How I did it: Dr. Lisa Koche at Spectra Complete follows a smart weight loss program that other doctors are promoting. The first step was a blood test to better understand my metabolism. I didn't understand a lot of the results (there were more than 10 detailed pages), but the doctor walks you through it. While waiting for the blood work results, I ate normally and wrote down everything I ate. I thought I started the day healthy - oatmeal (with brown sugar for flavor), two slices of fiber toast with jelly and one or two large glasses of milk or orange juice or both. Rather than the recommended 25 to 40 grams of carbs I needed for breakfast, I ate 100 to 150 grams and set myself up for a sugar high that I needed to keep feeding throughout the day. I started eating a balanced diet and maintained the carbs at a much lower level than I had been accustomed to. I added exercise and the weight came off a half-pound to 2 pounds per week. If you use the B-12 vitamin shots and appetite suppressant pills that can be part of the weight-loss program, then you go to the office every week for a shot and every other week for a half-hour support and question-and-answer session with either the doctor, a physical therapist, a food nutritionist or a psychiatrist. They are very helpful and have heard all of the excuses, stories and lies people tell themselves. Plus, they can share useful tips when there is a slowdown in weight loss. I did not use the shots or pills for the first three months of my weight loss, and I still lost 30 pounds. I wanted to lose another 40 pounds and started to use the pills and shots. Fortunately, the pills are not too strong, and so do not force you to become dependent on them. This gives you a chance to learn how to eat and understand which foods to avoid. Hurdles: The hardest part for my metabolism was breaking the sugar addiction. I ate controlled, very low-carb meals for two weeks. I was fine for the first four days. It took that long for the blood level to get to a normal level. I suffered major headaches for about four days as I tried to wean myself from what I would consider a sugar addiction. I lost 10 pounds quickly, but obviously it is impossible to keep eating this way forever. Going the distance: I have had no soda for 11 months. I ask for soda water or carbonated water, club soda or seltzer to get the fizzy taste but without the heavy sugar. I avoid rice and pasta - the sugar rush from the carbs makes me feel bad and it gives me a headache. I probably eat an almost vegetarian diet. I add a small piece of protein, usually salmon, steak or chicken. My typical meals include two to four cups of water. Best advice: There are no shortcuts. You have to understand your metabolism and follow a food diet to let your body lose weight naturally and at a moderate pace. I still drink red wine; I eat dark chocolate and yogurt, and have an occasional pizza or baked potato. You can't go low- to zero-carbs forever, it is about having enough carbs to let your metabolism help you maintain normal weight or lose extra pounds.