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Jessica, United States, lost 40 lbs

On my way to pre-pregnancy (pregnancies) weight…

I am a very happy mother of four children, but I am also quite a bit larger than I was in my pre-mommy days. I have kept around ten pounds extra weight from each pregnancy, in addition to extra weight here and there from other life’s circumstances and from the inability to exercise regularly, due to the time demands of my household and my career. Also, I have had one failure after another of the cycle of counting calories, losing very little weight, and then giving up. My life is full of distractions, and counting calories was just another mind-consumer to add to my day, and it simply did not work for me.

A year ago, while I was pregnant with my fourth child, I heard an article on NPR about Dr. Dukan and his diet. What called my attention was that it was a program to « cure » a person of being overweight, and that it is possible to live your life maintaining a healthy weight without living forever on a diet. That evening, I ordered the British translation of his book, and spent the rest of my pregnancy studying it, preparing myself for a true lifestyle change.

I did not start the diet until after the New Year. My baby was born in October, which is the beginning of the great holiday season in the US: Halloween (candy), Thanksgiving (stuffing! mashed potatoes! gravy!), Christmas (cookies), and New Year’s Eve (champagne). It is madness to attempt a no-carb, low fat diet in that minefield! So, I chose to wait until the dearth of holidays that begins in January (which, of course added a few more pounds to lose once I started…)

My greatest challenge in beginning this diet was figuring out how to make the European recipes work with American ingredients. Quark and fromage frais are nearly impossible to find here: they have to be purchased either in very expensive gourmet stores or they must be purchased on-line. I did acquire some, but I found that I can do without it altogether, sometimes using non-fat plain yogurt as an alternative (when it works with the recipe). My second challenge was adapting family meals that are Dukan-friendly for me and appropriately nutritious for my children. I am adamantly opposed to cooking separate meals for everyone in my household, because table manners begin with everyone enjoying the same meal together. My husband decided to join me on the diet, so it was only a question of making a few changes for the children. This proved much easier than I had expected: on PV days, all of us eat the same meal, and I add a starch such as brown rice to the children’s plates, and on PP days, my husband and I eat just the protein part of the meal, whereas the children get to eat veggies that they love but seldom get to eat: peas and corn.

I was worried about telling the children that I am on a diet, because I do not want my daughter to develop a harmful body image of herself. We told them that Mommy and Daddy are getting their bodies healthy and strong because we are sleepy all of the time and our bodies do not work right.

My absolute favorite part of starting this diet was the Slimming Program chart. This completely removed the overwhelming feeling of having so much weight to lose. The chart shows not only that I will lose the weight, but precisely when I will reach my goal! This has be the strongest tool in helping me to resist temptation: when my children are eating their Sunday donuts, or when there is a cheese-and-crackers gathering at work, all I have to think is « June 23! June 23! », and the temptation is gone. Furthermore, the timing is accurate: I have halfway to June 23 from when I started the diet, and I have lost half of the 52 pounds I had to lose as well!

My favorite support Dukan food: I have invested in high quality spices (I used the money we have saved from not ordering fast food or pizza anymore). This makes our meals so tasty that we don’t even miss our old cheese and grease-laden favorites.
My Dukan treat: It is the ways that I take my daily oat bran: either mixed with non-fat vanilla yogurt mid-morning, or as a modified gallette (just without the quark) for an afternoon snack.
My favorite form of exercise: Zumba, a latin-dance-inspired series of work-out DVD’s. The children even join me! On the days when I don’t wake up early enough to work out, the children and I go for an afternoon walk, and I wear the baby in a sling (which has me carrying 18 pounds of extra weight while I walk!).
The nicest compliment I’ve been paid: One day when I was able to fit into a pair of pants that I haven’t fit in about two years, someone said, « You look hot! » Thirty-seven-year-old overweight mothers seldom, if ever, hear this phrase!
What keeps me going: I now have the energy to play with my children again! The other thing that keeps me going is « JUNE 23! JUNE 23! », and the fact that my goal date also begins swimsuit season…
The advice I’d give to other « Dukanians »: Do not let set-backs and slips from the regime make you lose hope and stop the diet. This diet is incredibly forgiving and understanding of life’s obstacles. Just dust yourself off and face tomorrow back on track! There is no harm in a little slip every once in awhile. You only will not succeed if you choose to not succeed.

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