Dear Dr. Sears,
I grew up in a family of seven kids. Being Mexican-American also came with eating plenty of authentic food. Mom cooked homemade meals. She learned how to cook from her mother when she was a young girl growing up in Mexico. Our meals consisted of rice, beans, red meat, homemade flour tortillas, and sweet bread for dessert. If it wasn't something sauteed for dinner, then rest assure it was fried!
It wasn't until I entered college that I began to see the importance of a healthy body and that making certain changes could actually allow me to be happy with myself. So I began a strict low-fat diet and exercise regimen. I had access to a recreational center that consisted of treadmills, steppers, and tennis courts. So I took full advantage of my amenities. Over a period of time, I stuck to my goals and lost 110 pounds in 12 months. I remember feeling so proud of my accomplishments, but most importantly I felt like I could do anything. Other goals in life began to follow shortly after losing the weight.
Two years later after my weight loss, I met my husband. We married and had two wonderful children. Over the course of four years, I gradually gained my weight back after having kids. I came to a point in my life where I didn't care about myself anymore. My focus became very much so on my children, and I put myself at the bottom of the totem pole. By the time my youngest child turned four, I began to search for the latest trends of diet crazes. Atkins was the talk of the globe at the time so I decided to give it a try. After some research, I decided to put Atkins into effect. I was eating 10-15 carbohydrates per day. I mainly ate protein without watching my fat intake. But the weight came off significantly. Despite the side effects of bad breath, hair falling out and thinning and feeling tired all the time, the Atkins' diet seemed to do the trick. I lost a total of 60 pounds in five months. I wasn't at my ideal goal, but it was enough to give me a confidence boost. A year later, I gained it all back...and then some...again.
I remember thinking if I could just stick to these diets, my results would be better. I also thought if I had the mind set to finish what I started, I could reach a significant amount of my goal! I wanted to get down to the root of the matter. I wanted to know why I was not sticking to these diets. Was there something missing? Did I just get bored and didn't have enough variety? Were some of the side effects getting to me? Question after question filled my mind, but even I couldn't figure out what my body was telling me other than the obvious cry for help. In 2007 I started a new job. The environment was fresh and new. I was excited to get to work and make new goals for my life. I met a lot of great people. I became close to one friend in particular who introduced me to the Zone Diet. At first I was a little skeptical because I wondered how would I keep all this measuring, and certain foods memorized when it's hard enough to make better decisions as it is? But little did I know that studying the Zone gave me the knowledge that I was looking for. It gave me the understanding of why we yoyo diet, why we get so hungry and why we get tired after a big meal. When I read your book "Mastering the Zone," it was like a light bulb turned on in my head! I learned how insulin levels function and take part in the amounts and types of food we eat and how we lose weight in the process when we learn how to control these levels! Of course, I didn't put the Zone into full action then, but I was studying it like a college course. I began to see the point of how eating this way could really make you feel better, look better and have much better mental focus. I had to check it out for myself, and I was floored at the results I got in so little time. It was incredible. I finally had the tools to build a better lifestyle, but my mental motivation still lacked.
Years went by, and in March of 2011 my father passed away. Dad had a history of heart attacks in his 50s, and at 77 he lost his fight with heart disease and cancer. He also had diabetes. Dad became health conscious after his episodes, but they were on- and off-again moments. His bad eating habits were imbedded in him and made it difficult for him to change his ways. My dad's passing really had an impact on me and my family's lives. I began to wonder if he did things differently, would he still be here with us today?
Six months after his passing, my older sister passed away from complications of her diabetes. She was diagnosed with the disease at 28 years old and was only 45 when she died.
I knew after the passing of my loved ones, there had to be something done about my weight. The thought of losing weight AND keeping it off was mentally exhausting. But I knew I had to get down to the root of this issue. My happiness, family, and health were at stake.
In September of 2012, my weight began to creep back up. I was very unhappy with myself; I wanted this struggle to be over. It was like my brain was fighting the battle of good and evil. But deep inside, I had a little bit of fight left so I took that and ran with it. I was at 319 pounds when I finally made the decision to change.
I picked up my Zone books and began to refresh my mind on the block system, body insulin levels and hormonal eating. Day one on the Zone became my life in the Zone. By December I had lost 49 pounds. I was feeling great, and I loved how the Zone diet was making me feel. When spring came, my total weight loss climbed to 75 pounds. I knew I was on my way to a healthier lifestyle. Not only did the spring weather encourage me to be involved in more activities, but I was also ready to try new things. I took tennis up again, planned hiking trips, and began Zumba. My energy level is so high that my friends and family have a hard time keeping up! Summer came and my motivation intensified. My current weight is 204 pounds. I have lost a total of 115 pounds. Wow! That's a whole person! But I feel, look and focus better. Life all around is positive and hopeful. My attitude and outlook on the future and life itself is a whole new perspective.
I am only 15 pounds from my initial goal. I am almost there. But I want to thank you for all of your extensive research and educating many how our bodies respond to food. Using food as my medicine has given me the knowledge and responsibility to eat healthier! Dr. Sears, your dedication, curiosity, and motivation to share with the world better eating habits by using the Zone method has been a blessing. The Zone has allowed me to look at food differently. When I walk up to a buffet or a gathering where all types of foods are served, my brain automatically separates carbohydrates, protein and good fats. When I look at any type of processed food, I don't see the item itself. The Zone has actually trained me to see the ingredients of the concoction, which also helps me make better choices. My family benefits from eating zone meals as well. I have had such an incredible response from friends, family and even customers from my job who have noticed my dramatic weight loss that I am holding small gatherings for those who want to become motivated and learn how to eat on the Zone. I am thankful to God for giving you, Dr. Sears, the knowledge to bring the Zone Diet together. There are many things I will do before this life is over because the Zone has given me the breakdown of how to use food! When we are able to understand how our bodies function, it's much easier to lose weight. The Zone provides those tools. It all starts in the mind because our bodies don't give up, but the mind can. I want to share a before and after photo of me as a thank you! Losing weight has allowed me to be myself; to become who I really am as a person and each day is a new goal.
I don't live to eat anymore...I eat to live!