Does the Dukan Diet work?
For the naturally thin or high metabolism folks and those who have always had a healthy relationship with food I salute you. I also am deeply jealous but I’m trying not to hold that against you ;o) I am not in that category and cannot imagine being comfortable with food.
Imagine being a drug addict trying to get clean. What can you do to stop? I know this is to over-simplify it but one REALLY good way is to stay away from it! At the very basic, cut and dry level, just stay away, don’t tempt yourself. What do you do if you find comfort in food? If my “addiction” craving is appeased by food? Stop eating? Remove yourself from tempting situations? Hardly. For people like me who have had a poor relationship with food, who eat to cover feelings or fill emotional holes it can’t ever be that easy because we still have to eat. Not just breakfast, lunch or dinner, on top of that, there will always be holiday and birthday dinners. There will always be grocery store trips and fast-food places adjoining the gas station. I can’t change those things so the only thing left is to change myself or be miserable. Very easy to say, very hard to do.
In the end, the fault is mine. I have made many many bad decisions, did not seek help sooner, ignored the side-effects of my weight and isolated myself rather than start working on my problem. It started very subtly, by the time I knew I had a problem, I’d actually had one for years. In my case, I was a chubby kid but grew out of it in high school. I thinned out mainly because I began running, but didn’t acknowledge my relationship with food. A low self esteem let me believe I was still fat, so even though I was as proportionate as I’d ever be, I still thought I was large. I dressed in baggy old clothes or layers, constantly compared myself to my thin classmates and avoided mirrors or clothes shopping. Since mentally I never saw myself as a healthy weight I never worked to try and keep myself there.
Enter college. Terrified of the “freshman 15″ and on a budget I preferred to spend on going out to movies, I actually lost weight! Ten pounds even. Mostly from not eating much more than cereal and salad and hot-dogs but also from 2-a-day exercise sessions. Weights from 6am-7am and a 3 mile run every afternoon. Positive reinforcement to continue poor eating habits and a way to teach my body to expend energy without having much to start with. A good way to alter a metabolism really. Me in the black dress? 120lbs.
At 19, size 4-6 and 120lbs I was getting married soon and still thought I was pudgy. Well, the wedding came and went, the dress nearly was too small (probably the fault of the seamstress but reinforced how big I thought I was) and enter marital bliss. Bliss that went sour just 3 months into it and started a cycle of poor self-esteem followed by binging which led to self-loathing back to overeating and so on. My high-school sweetheart, who said he’d “honor and protect” decided that with the licence all signed and legal, he could be the bully he really was but hid for 4 years. He began criticizing me frequently and calling me all the names out loud that I had always thought to myself. This escalated to frequent berating, then to embarrassing comments in front of friends, then finally to physical abuse. During all this, my outlet was food and hiding. I quit going out, quit seeing friends as often, quit exercising. I ate to feel better but still was miserable. Finally, after three years of broken promises and refusals for counselling, escalating arguments and abuse, I left. All 183 pounds of me, clothing size 20. Time to start over.
Multiple diets, 8 years and a new husband later, I’m in much better shape now but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve lost and gained a few hundred pounds total back and forth in the meantime using some less-than-ideal means. I’ve done South Beach, Atkins and calorie-counting. Nutritionists, Personal Trainers and the “weigh-in” type weekly programs. Pills, shakes and lots of books. Most recent? Pure protein starvation diet. I lost 40 pounds in 6 months. I gained 20 back within another six months and that was my last “diet”. The good news is I’ve kept 20lbs off for over a year as I’ve slowly been learning better ways to eat and more reasonable ways to exercise. Atkins showed me protein works but I had a hard time giving up the carbohydrates. Later, the pure-protein diet reinforced my body’s approval of less sugar and carbohydrates and since it was a six+ month process, I gradually changed my meal planning to include more vegetables and fewer carb portions. However, the pounds are creeping back on (thank you Honeymoon, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all in 3 months) and I have to do something before it gets away from me…again.
If the Dukan Diet can keep me, with all my food-issues and health history, at a healthy and happy weight long term, then I think it could work for just about anybody. The diet is not hard to follow if you believe as I do that some people’s bodies cannot be given “easy calories” from carbohydrates and sugars. The principles seem nutritionally sound and the plan is reasonable. No starving, no permanently restricted foods, no excessive exercise requirements. Really, it sounds too simple and I am skeptical that it can or will work for me.
I began the main part of this blog to document the good food I’ve found I can enjoy while still being healthy (most of the time) and to show people that exciting food isn’t always hard to make. I wanted people to find these recipes that reduce fats, sugars, carbs and at the same time are tasty! It’s a way for me to be motivated to keep looking and trying new things too.
Now, I am adding my progress with the Dukan Diet so that I’ll see my own progress and be motivated by it. Honestly though, it’s going to be more motivation to not publicly fail as I have failed so privately in the past. I am learning to appreciate food in a responsible way without being severe. I am learning that exercise doesn’t have to be all-out, all the time. I’m trying to believe that me at 140lbs is ok to be and I’m not grossly overweight, no matter what the charts say. Here’s to continuing to be healthy and being happy with me, time will tell if the Dukan methods will work long term. Fingers crossed!
Day Seven: 5/23/11 weight 147lbs. Size 10-12
Day fourteen: 5/30/11 weight: 146lb Size 10.
Day 21: 6/6/11 weight: 146lb (but at leastI didn’t put any on over my birthday!)
Day 35: 6/20/11 weight: 145lb I am going to do a bit longer walk for a few days and maybe go back to some protein only days. I have however lost inches if not weight and I feel good.
Day 42: 6/27/11 weight: 144.9lb Ok. So things aren’t going as quickly as at first, I think that is it expected for there to be a plateau and given my diet history I’m really not surprised. I feel good and like how I’m looking, I have lost more inches than weight – I’m solidly in a size 8 now which is a good size on my frame. My goal is 138-140lbs so I’m creeping that way still. I’ll keep on keeping-on!
Day 49: 7/4/11 weight: 138lbs. This is great! Except this weight will probably go back up. I was in the hospital and had a poor appetite while I was there. Also, I was not on the Dukan diet for sure! According to my scale, I lost about 2 pounds in muscle so I’m expecting to even out at around 142lbs after a while back to “normal”.
Day 56: 7/11/11 weight: 137.8 pounds. So I’ve been home a week now, eating more Phase 3 options, basically veggies every day with protein. I obviously have kept off what I lost though I do expect my body to replace my lost muscle as I get more into exercising again. This week, exercise has been on the back-burner as I wasn’t feeling well. We went on one 30 minute walk all week that left me with jelly-knees but felt good. I probably should note that while I was in the hospital for still-unknown reasons, I asked the Doctor’s if they thought my diet plan had anything to do with it and they all said no. None of my symptoms were from poor dietary intake and while I got a “gross” remark about oat-bran pancakes from one Doc, they were confident that eating veggies, protein and low-fat dairy were not a cause. Oh yeah, I’m in a size 6 now. Not planning on keeping it, my goal is to be no larger than an 8 but I **guess** I’ll settle for a 6 if I HAVE to….
Day 63: 7/18/11 weight: 139.9 lbs. According to my scale, most of this gain is muscle and not unexpected. I seemed to put back on a few pounds of it after a couple 10 mile bike-rides but muscle weight is good! Muscle burns fat so more muscle means more fat-busting ability! My total fat % is down in the 34% range…I started in the 36% range so that’s an improvement as well. Still rockin my size 6 jeans!
Day 70: 7/25/11 weight: 141.4 lbs. Still “normalizing” my weight I think after being sick. We have been exercising more and my scale says that my muscle mass is increased by another pound. The rest well I have to admit, we had a “yay you’re not in the hospital” celebration meal and the next night went out with friends and THEN had a surprise visit by family the next…so a few days there we were less than perfect with the diet. I’m still wearing the size 6 jeans though and I feel good! Total I have lost 11 pounds (5kg) over 2+ months, right at 5 pounds a month or so. More noticeable is my size, I was wearing 10-12 clothes and now I’m solidly wearing 6-8. Most weight-loss experts agree that slow controlled weight loss is healthier and more maintainable in the long run. I’m planning on staying with Dukan Phase 2 (Cruise Phase) up until my husband reaches his goal but I’m happy with where I am now!
Day 77: 8/1/11 weight: 141.1lbs. Hey I actually lost weight…a little. I probably would have been more solidly under 141 lbs except it is summer and summer is a time to go out with friends, get out on the water and break the diet a day here and there. We’re kinda building in a celebration meal (or two) twice a month in a way – at least for the next month. I’m not expecting great losses right now, but I’m hoping to at least break even!
Day 84: 8/8/11 weight: 143lbs. Ugh. No comment. I haven’t tried very hard this week to be honest…little slip-ups at work, tempting situations (like bananas foster being ordered after having a fairly on-the-diet dinner with friends)…the usual. Going to buckle down this week because this weekend is planned and it won’t be easy to be on the diet! We’re having a celebration meal friday night at a restaurant that is perfect for the diet as long as I can keep portion size in mind. Saturday will be harder, another scallop run planned and we’ll have to do the best we can.
Day 98: 8/22/11 weight: 141.2 lbs. Back to baseline. It appears that this is where my body “wants” to be right now. I haven’t been exercising much, in fact definitely could be doing more. Life happens. Also have had some celebration meals in where we really aren’t on that stage officially yet but either way, I’m holding steady at around 141, size 6-8. Planning on pushing harder through September (I’m going to be a bridesmaid!) but I’ve been at this level for such a while now that I actually went out and (gasp) bought clothes! NEW, nice, fitting clothes! Nothing baggy or cheap either. They “say to look the part you want to play” (I don’t know who “they” is but they sure say a lot of things that sound intelligent) so in order to feel good about how I look, I have to go out and look that way too! No baggy yoga pants going out, no sports bras and shirts with holes and stains lounging around the house anymore. They have a place but I will not live in them. It’s very easy to put on 10 pounds without noticing if all the pants I wear for months are elastic. This is a theory I’m going to explore anyhow. This is me – take it or leave it. I’m going to focus more on incorporating exercise and maybe some strength/toning training. This is an area I can improve in, if I lose more weight then great! Pictures to come maybe later this month in one of my new outfits.
Day 115 9/8/11: weight 142lbs. Two weekends in a row off the diet and honestly, this is amazing to me. Less than 1 pound gained and I thoroughly enjoyed myself . Two weekends ago, Daniel’s birthday and we went to the beach. We ate our breakfasts mostly on the diet but also had fruit. We took walks on the beach for our exercise but also enjoyed adult beverages by the pool and one night went out for a fantastic dinner at a French restaurant – totally not watching carbs there either! Let’s not forget the cupcakes…. Spent a few days in-between focusing on pure protein and exercising then the next weekend I was off to a bachelorette weekend getaway! You guessed it, pizza, adult beverages daily and not a single oat-bran pancake in sight! I made an effort though to exercise while I was there and went out for 30 minutes or more every day. Back at home now, going to focus again on pure protein and exercise for a while – gotta be in shape for my bridesmaid dress! Just over 1 month to go! The pic has the both of us – Daniel looking all cut and trim and well, it’s maybe hard to tell but I look happy! I am going to keep on keepin’ on!
Day 125 9/19/11: weight 141.8lbs. Still doing my thing- my wardrobe is improving with nicer, more fitted items, I even exercised 5 days a this week for 30 minutes a day and we are about to switch to the next phase, Phase 3. Whoo!
Day 132 9/26/11: weight 140.8lbs. Size 6-8. I have been being more diligent with exercise this month and I think it’s paying off. Nobody’s perfect and I rarely was exercising every day of the week like expected. This month I’ve increased my average from 3 days a week (not good!) to 4 -5 days a week. I’m aiming for 6 days a week and it isn’t impossible, I’m still struggling with calling a walk “exercise”. The scale not jumping around too much even with my less than stellar workout performances and a celebration meal this week is encouraging. It may be possible for this diet plan to work and still have a life! I’m happy with how I look, I’m healthier and I feel good!
Day 156 10/20/11: weight 140.9lb. Wow! It has almost been a month since I updated this! The good news is that my weight has been holding steady, the even-better-news is that my weight held steady through a two week period of wandering off the diet plan. Our one-year wedding anniversary was celebrated with a taste of Spain (our honeymoon destination) and was not low-fat/low carb at all. Also, nearly every day for 10 days straight we ate some sort of dessert with our meals. We had our wedding cake from the freezer as tradition requires and it was fantastic! Too fantastic to throw out really, so we had that for a few days. We ate out at an Indian restaurant one night and the owner surprised us with a brownie and ice-cream that we felt compelled to eat (you know, just to be polite) and then we went on to the wedding of a close friend which meant of course, more wedding cake. Through all of this, we were not perfect, we did not get to exercise as much as we should have and there has been some casualty to our progress. However, I did make an effort to exercise and did at the hotel exercise room, I watched my portions even though the portions included wine, potato and cake, and I hit a few protein days once we got home. I can do this, we can do this! I still fit in my clothes and managed to have some fun and celebrate life with my husband, family and friends. The Dukan Diet is keeping it’s word so far!
Day 174 11/7/11: weight 141lb. Things are going along just great! Holding steady and enjoying the benefits of Phase 3 -the celebration meals! We don’t typically go out with friends more than once a week so it works out just fine. Two things we’re working on though are exercising more regularly and the scheduled protein only day. The Dukan Diet says to have one day week, predetermined, to have protein only, no veggies. He suggests any day that works for your schedule but to commit to it. We completely forgot about that part…and haven’t done it for at least a month. This week we’ve instituted “Meatloaf Tuesday” which is pretty self explanatory. I picked meatloaf as our protein of choice because it’s easy to make, we like it well enough and it’s simple to make enough for the two of us to eat in one day without leftovers.
12/05/11 weight 137lb. WOW! Turkey Day come and gone and look at that! So I maybe ate enough in one meal to make two but I didn’t eat dinner so it evens out right? That and some walking didn’t hurt. We’ve gone shopping for some dual-use cold weather clothes so we can continue our walks/exercise outside and for our ski vacation coming up next year. This diet is not impossible, let us see how Christmas goes. I’ve got three parties so far to attend before the new year!
1/1/12 weight 138.6 lb. Ok. I weighed twice just to be sure. I thought about sending my scale in to be checked but really, my clothes agree with the scale! My size 6 jeans fit pretty good, a little snug but not bad. I actually ran around all day one day in them thinking that I had to lose some weight because I thought that I was growing out of my 8′s! Here’s to a new year full of health and happiness!
1/30/12 weight 137.5lb. So I have officially worked off the couple pounds I gained over the holidays but by “worked off” I mean, I followed the diet more closely, drank more water than wine and made an effort to exercise more. I can definitely improve in the number of days I exercise so that’s something to work on. My food choices are taking on a broader range as far as my cooking goes. I don’t shy away from something calling for a TBS of brown sugar these days or that kind of thing. Moderation, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly works? Who knew!
3/15/12 weight 139lb. Moving and all the craziness that goes with that means less healthy, home cooked meals and more pizza and burgers. Some things can’t be helped but my weight has come back down with a little effort, I got up to 143lb a week or two ago during the height of all the moving. The house is coming together and I am finding more time to get back to my new (smaller) kitchen. Next will be the decorating! Painting counts as exercise right?
4/26/12 weight 139.4 lb Well, it has been about a year now that my husband and I have been trying to incorporate the Dukan approach to food and dieting and I have to say, so far, so good. Losing weight is rarely easy and I’d say almost never enjoyable but this process of re-learning how to think about food, why I eat and what I eat has not been that bad. I’d say even enjoyable at times in the sense that I haven’t given myself a unrealistic goal or berated myself into constant emotional turmoil and still lost and maintained a healthy weight for me. I’m am still a work in progress, I still wish to be smaller and am still learning to accept me how I am. I will have to continue to work at making better life choices more of the time than I don’t and as I get older my metabolism is going to make things harder too. I am going to stick with this thing and I wish all the best of luck to any of you who are working at becoming happier and healthier too.
7/22/12 weight 142 lb. I am happy to say that while the number is up a few pounds, overall I am doing well. Eating on the third and fourth stage menu’s has brought a lot more variety to the table which we are enjoying. The stress of moving and working on our home has led to a few more “celebration” (read: take out because we’re too exhausted to cook) meals than should be in a week and as always, I have room for improvement in the “exercising daily” category. I think I’d give myself a B+ though on my overall effort and in keeping to my size 8 goal. I’ve lost 10- 12 pounds with this lifestyle change and kept off another 30 pounds or so for longer than any other time of my life. Continuing to try being realistic with my goals and body image is still a challenge but the longer I go on thinking this way about me, the easier it gets. To you who are finding it hard to start, or to keep on pressing through, remember that we do not gain excessive weight overnight, it builds up over years of poor decisions and lifestyle choices. It is tied to emotional or personal issues not always in our direct control. Losing weight, coming to accept yourself and working through your personal issues also will not be fixed overnight. I’m just over a year into my “Dukan marathon” but my race didn’t start the day I began this lifestyle, it began years before that with many short term sprints (with great results but rebound weight gain) and failed attempts that eventually led to me being able to say “THAT IS IT! I will not live like this any more.”
12/28/12. Yeah. Not telling. Not today. All I’ll say is my 8′s are a bit too snight (Freudian slip there I’m leaving in) and my 10′s are not roomy enough. I’ve been creeping up. I’ve not been exercising even a little bit. I’ve been calling home repairs “exercise”. I’ve been having too many snacks and holiday treats. I’ve not been watching my carbs. I’ve been having or attending too many parties including adult beverages. So yep. Time to pull it together MANDA!
3/15/13 weight: 152lb. size 8-10. 8′s are fitting a little better now. These past few months have been rough. I have been exercising 4- 5 days a week, added some strength training routines in and began counting calories in addition to staying in line with most of the Dukan Diet. I even started doing hot yoga! I really have been trying. Yet my scale has slowly, steadily increased. In addition to that frustration and the temptation to cut calories to 500 a day, I’ve been having other problems making it harder to exercise like constant pain in my side and being bone tired at times regardless of how well I have slept. I went to the doctor when my hair started falling out. After talking with my doctor, going over other symptoms and blood tests, it turns out I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. This means I either have to take oral contraceptives to regulate my hormones or live with the pain and other issues. The problem I’ve had in the past with “the pill” is that I gained 40+ pounds on it the first time. Not all of it was “the pill’s” fault of course, there were many factors as always. I’ve gone almost 12 years off the pill and am very VERY hesitant to start that again. The thing is, with the hormonal fluctuations with the PCOS and the pain preventing me from wanting to be active, I’m gaining weight anyway. So which is worse? I’m probably going to try what my MD suggests for a while to see how it goes.
5/17/13 weight 154lb size 8-10. Still hanging out in this range and making an effort to stay active. My weight has settled around my middle, looking at a head-shot of myself, I look like I did 10 years ago but my waist and hips don’t lie. From what I read, part of the problem with PCOS is that the hormones cause abdominal weight gain which leads to the cardiovascular and metabolic problems. On the upside, since doing the yoga more regularly I feel stronger than I have in a long time. Chin up! Plaster that smile on and keep calm and carry on.