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Inspiration Avenue is a place where you can read moving stories written by everyday Australians who have travelled the road many of us are now on.

Empower Foods would like to thank the authors of these stories. They have provided the low carb community with an inspirational and honest account on their journey not only to weight loss but to better health, increased self-confidence and awareness.

If you have achieved low carb success we would love to hear from you. Please click here to submit your story. By sharing your own personal journey you will help to empower countless others with the knowledge that a few small changes can have the most amazing life-changing benefits.


Sam - Reclaiming Her Health

In my late teens and early twenties I was my perfect weight for my height and build, around 50-52kgs. As I got older and exercised less, I tended to go up to 56kgs but I was never too concerned about my weight or the food I ate until I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycaemia. While not diabetic, my blood sugar levels were liable to drop so suddenly that I would get weak, shaky, dizzy, irritable and then pass out in a very short time. To combat this problem, I was told to eat plenty of fruit and complex carbs (which I was already doing, funny how I didn't twig then!) and eat frequently. Oh yes, and to keep some barley sugar on me at all times. It was a very frightening problem, one that saw me in hospital when backpacking through Europe and as a result I began to eat more and more to try and keep my blood sugar levels.

In 2000 my doctor decided to prescribe Depo-Provera as a contraceptive. Within 6 months I had gone from 53kgs to 68kgs and was extremely fatigued, hugely depressed and sick almost constantly. The doctor I was seeing at the time did not believe these occurrences were related to the contraceptive and I ended up a very miserable girl for 12 months. Finally, with the help of another doctor, I got off the contraceptive only to discover I had Candida albicans overgrowth and leaky gut syndrome (thanks to my hormones being completely out of whack). Undigested food was passing directly into my bloodstream and causing my body all sorts of problems. My blood sugar levels were so unpredictable that I often didn't get shaky and light-headed but went straight to passing out stage if I didn't eat every 4 hours. I was put on a strict anti-candida diet for 6 months and warned off sugar for life.

I managed to follow the strict diet for 12 months but slowly let myself get back into the habit of eating bread and pasta. My weight had not budged from 68kgs even on the strict diet (which usually happens) and I decided that something had to be done. I engaged a personal trainer, agreed to practically starve myself and eat less than 20g of fat a day and punish my body with a heavy training program 4 times a week. Within 3 months I had dropped my weight down to 56kgs but I was exhausted. I look at photos of myself from then and I look ill. Skinny and ill wasn't my idea of fun. At that time I met a great man and of course, love tends to make you enjoy the finer things in life, and as we sampled wines and tasted great Italian meals, I was heading back up to the mid-sixties again! I didn't like my weight but at least I wasn't feeling and looking so unwell.

I discovered Atkins March 2003. I was very sceptical about the diet, having heard so many negative things about it, but I was curious too. As a researcher for a health and science publisher, I know how to check information and I spent a good couple of weeks doing the research. I bought Dr Atkin's New Diet Revolution, made notes to check facts and was convinced it wouldn't kill me to try Induction: Phase 1 for 2 weeks. It didn't. As of day 1 I didn't have one hypoglycaemic episode. I had a full blood work up done before I started and 1 year later all my hormones had balanced and my body was back to normal. I was instantly energised after being tired to the point of tears for 3 years. I slept well and went straight to sleep instead of tossing and turning half the night. I never got the 2pm snooze blues. And the best part was the food. I could eat until I was full. I was never hungry. And no one, not even my partner, who was very dubious about 'that Atkins diet', could say my meals are unhealthy. I eat more vegetables now than I did when I was vegetarian years ago (read living on pasta and rice!) and I appreciate food in a way I never have.

The biggest benefit from low carbing is my health. My weight loss will always be a bonus but having me back to the way I should feel is the greatest thing I can have. There are people on the Empower forum who've lost fast, slow, more or less but we all have found one common denominator: we are healthier, happier and set for a longer life because of low carbing.

Sam

Food diary before:

Breakfast: 2 slices of vegemite toast (low fat spread)

Mid morning: low fat yoghurt

Lunch: chicken and salad sandwich/leftover stirfry

Mid afternoon: nothing

Dinner: chicken stirfry/low fat meat with salad or vegies

After dinner: nothing

Drinks: wine, energy drinks

Food diary now:

Breakfast: I never have time to eat at home so I prefer to have easy things on hand in the fridge at work, things like cheese and kabana or hardboiled eggs are often my breakfast

Mid morning: can of tuna (john west tempters)

Lunch: egg and bacon salad / lasagne made with Empower wraps / tuna sauce on steamed cauliflower

Mid afternoon: if hungry roast chicken slices from deli with brie cheese or celery and philly cream cheese

Dinner: most of my fave dishes are adaptable to low carb: chicken parmigana / steak and pepper sauce / lamb curry - with plenty of vegies such as broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, capsicum, mushrooms etc

After dinner: occasionally have a hot cocoa with cream

Drinks: mineral water with a dash of fresh lemon and sprig of mint, water