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The Vail Trail Diet Challenge

Staff Reports

Twelve weeks ago the Vail Trail took six volunteers and had them each participate in the diet of their choice: one chose Atkins, four chose South Beach, and Harald Fricker, our team captain, chose his own diet, dubbed “The Duh Diet”. For the first few weeks, everyone was highly motivated and ready to go, but then dieter Leah Morrison dropped out, citing frustration with the pace of the diet. Some of the other dieters began to waffle, and many were frustrated that they weren’t losing weight as fast as they had been in the first two weeks.Still, they persevered.During the past six weeks we have been quietly monitoring our dieters to see if they could hold out for the final challenge reaching week 12. Each of our dieters has had varying levels of success, and all of them have had lapses, times of doubt, and moments of weakness. In the end, everyone lost weight. Faye McKenny found that the South Beach diet although it didn’t help her lose as much weight as she hoped, was great for her cholesterol levels.We would like to thank the GNC (General Nutrition Center) in Avon for their support throughout this process. As our dieters continue their personal challenge, they can go to GNC to find foods and supplements that are hard to find in other locations.The following stories tell the tale of diet challenges won, lost and regained. Each person has a different body, and each person has a different story to tell. What’s your dieting story, and how have you fared in the effort to stay healthy, slim, and happy in Eagle County?Let us know by emailing us at tboyd@vailtrail.com.– TBThe Harald Fricker storyI think it was quite good for me to have exposed these past 12 weeks of my personal challenge in such a public forum. I’ve gotten a lot of support from people that I haven’t heard from for years and many I had never met before. I should point out that I had already lost 20 pounds before the Vail Trail Diet Challenge so my total weight lost now stands at 46 pounds (after losing 26 with the Vail Trail). That however isn’t nearly enough and is still far away from the minimum of 100 pounds that I need to lose to regain my fitness and of course to compete in ultrarunning events again. It’s all about patience. I have always known that losing weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds a week gives you the highest rate of long term success and allows you to keep your energy levels very high, so now that I’ve actually been able to stick with that I feel extremely confident that I can continue without fail until I reach my goals. I encourage anyone to email me with their thoughts through my website at http://www.DuhDiet.com.Now that the twelve weeks has passed I can tell you honestly: I told the Vail Trail staff, before this challenge began, to do a follow up on the entire group in a year, because the odds are that everyone who tried the high protein/low carb program will have regained the weight.I have seen very few exceptions personally and a local cardiologist says that nothing has ever been better for his business. Besides increasing the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, high protein diets can lead to other serious health problems such as kidney stress, liver disorders and gout. I have experienced this myself when I suffered from painful kidney stones three different times in my life and the common link was that I had been on some variation of a high protein diet each time.Most nutritionists also agree that Atkins and other low-carb plans are unhealthy, even dangerous – especially if followed for long periods. The simple fact is that carbohydrate is the only nutrient that is stored by the muscle. For a person to have a good amount of energy without fatigue, you need carbohydrates. Low carb diets combined with exercise create an even bigger problem. Low carb intake quickly depletes the glycogen stores in the muscle and liver. The end result is increasedmuscle fatigue and decreased muscle power, which leads to poor athletic performance and lack of desire to exercise.There is no doubt that people are losing weight on low carb diets and most of the pounds come off quickly because what you’re losing is lean body mass and water. Some people feel good for a period of time, but suddenly have absolutely no energy. Once they go back to eating carbohydrates (eventually nearly all do), they are amazed how much better they feel but the weight comes back as quickly as it came off. So once again it becomes blatantly obvious that a balance of good carbs and proteins is the key for maintaining weight, health and energy. If you’re trying to lose weight then it’s a matter of calories in, calories out so portion control and more exercise are the key. Never go to any extremes or you will pay the price – guaranteed.The good news is that Atkins styled diets are on the way out. According to a new survey it appears that the low carb craze is beginning to wane. The majority of Americans who have tried low carb diets have given them up. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of Americans are currently on a low carb diet and even fewer are likely to begin one. Fitness and diet trends have become as fluid as fashion and style. The media creates and keeps them going for a time, but it’s always hungry for the next big thing. So look out, the next diet fad, poised to rob you of your hard earned dollars and common sense is just around the corner.Leah MorrisonNote: Leah Morrison was the one dieter who didn’t complete her 12-week commitment to the diet. Here’s her explanation for why the diet didn’t work for her just like it hasn’t worked for many other Americans. Now Leah is trying something more akin to what Harald Fricker has done eating sensibly and applying common sense.I stopped the South Beach diet for a couple of reasons. I lost eight pounds the first two weeks, but I felt really tired. Then, when we were able to add a few carbs back in, I gained 4 back. I still felt tired and hungry. Since I stopped the diet, I have stayed at the same weight as when I stopped but I feel a lot better. Whenever I try to eat junk food, my stomach hurts. So I have just tried to eat healthy without worrying about when and what time I should eat. I am a lot more active too!Steve OrsakI started at 214 pounds the first week and by week five I was down to 204 pounds but I don’t think it was all because of the diet. In that time I did become more active outside and started going to the gym, but it was tough because it seemed that I got tired a lot faster…maybe I was out of shape!It seemed following the half-way point it seemed that I hit a wall and couldn’t get over. I could not get under 200 pounds. It became frustrating and then I did start seeing myself cheat a little. But in the same time I was exercising regularly which compensated for that slice of pizza. I think the toughest time was right before the 12 weeks was up I went on vacation to see my family and I think it was about day two when I gave in to mom’s incredible home cooking.Overall, I do think I would do the Atkins diet again. If you are trying to lose weight fast for a trip coming up or a special event, the Atkins would probably work. But my goal is not to just lose weight, it’s to eat healthy and exercise to be more fit.Amy DomkeI am doing great! I am right on target for my 30-pound weight loss goal. I am still on the South Beach diet, but have adopted some common sense rules to supplement it. So basically the bones of my diet are still South Beach but with some more realistic items thrown in. I was discouraged at first when the weight seemed to come off slowly but now I think it was better because I am not yo-yoing and it is more likely I will keep the weight off then if I had lost it quickly with little effort. I’m still totally into this and I think I’ll be able to keep with this modified South Beach diet for a long time.Pat and Faye McKennyNote: Pat and Faye McKenny are a mother-and-son combo that teamed up to join our Diet Challenge team. They have helped each other stick to the diet, and now say they’re ready to keep on going.Neither of us met our so-called goal, but I think we did quite well when you consider that we had two vacations a piece, four birthdays, and countless numbers of visitors. What happens is we end up cooking food that they’ll eat and you tend to eat with them.We found that, even though we may not maintain the perfect eating habits, we would go back to being low carb for two or three days after straying from the diet.We also found that it’s getting easier to eat at restaurants even fast-food restaurants, but the biggest challenge for us was before this, we were eating a lot of pasta. It’s so easy to prepare a lot of different ways, and we were having it three nights a week. And we had to cut out rice and potatoes. But once we got used to it we were OK.Pat is down 231 pounds, even with all the birthday parties, and he’s feeling pretty good about that. My “bad” cholesterol, which was a big concern of mine, is down about 22 points, and my “good” cholesterol is at the right level so that’s been fantastic. And we’re going to continue it.


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