When I first encountered an Atkins Diet book, I was working in an office. I had been working there for five or six years and had accumulated a fair bit of excess weight. I had never been active in sport, but my previous job had me working on a non-local job site, which brought with it a certain amount of physical activity – just enough to hae kept me in reasonable shape. After five years of pen-pushing, I weighed 18 stone 12 pounds (264 lbs or 120 kg), up three stone, and neither I nor my doctor were happy about it.

One day a representative of some accounting firm came in for a scheduled appointment, and, while we were awaiting the other directors, we got to talking about working in an office and its tendency to make one put on a stone or two. He said that he had had the same problem before this new, more mobile, job that he had and that now he made sure he got out of the office regularly and walked everywhere he could, time permitting.

He also said that he’d read an interesting book on dieting while on holiday in the United States and that he would send me a copy when he got back to his home town. I didn’t think anything more of it and never saw the man again. I think his name was Mr. Blackwell.

The book arrived as promised, but I left it lying on my desk unread for months and months, until one day, I had a dentist’s appointment and had forgotten to take a book to work to read while I was waiting – something I always did/do because the magazines are always so old and boring. Anyway, I read 50-60 pages that day and I was mesmerized. I had never been on a proper diet before and I thought I should give it a go. I had stopped eating pastry, cakes and chocolate months ago, but it hadn’t had much effect and my weight was still on the increase, albeit more slowly.

It seemed to me that it was a ‘thinking person’s’ diet There is a huge amount of scope for individual tastes and lifestyles, and self-discipline did not seem to be much of an issue because of that. The book warned of addictions and fads and how best to overcome or prevent them. These did not seem to be an issue for me.

I liked coffee, but could take it or leave it [ED: it has not shown to be quite healthy in most respects)] and I had already given up chocolate [ED: dark chocolate, or more specifically the cocoa found in high quantities in dark chocolate – is one of the most powerful antioxidants ever discovered]. Beer and bread could be a problem though.

The only requirement in the seven-fourteen day induction phase is to eat not more than 20 gram of carbohydrate per day. The book has a clear list of almost every foodstuff and their carbohydrate content. I found it really very easy. In fact, I was eating in a more healthy way in the induction stage than I had been eating before it!

I bought a carton of Ketone sticks from the local chemist to make sure that the Atkins Diet was working and I found that I wasn’t in ketosis [ED: “An abnormal increase of ketone bodies in the blood as in diabetes”] on the third day. It was very gratifying to know that I would be slimming down whatever I did and wherever I was all day long from now on.

I gave up bread (and Guinness!) for a fortnight and felt great. I actually felt ‘springy’ or ‘bouncy’ like a martial artist in the ring before a fight. I had no bother whatsoever staying within the 20 gram limit, although I did miss some fruits more than I’d expected. But I found ways to get around any ‘problem’ that cropped up.

There are hundreds of recipes and recommendations in the book so there’s no need to go into them here. I started eating breakfast before I went to work and dinner in the evenings regularly. I really enjoyed taking care over preparing lunch for work the next day, usually consisting of a salad, some cheese and various nuts to snack on. You can even eat a few strawberries too. In the evening, I would cook up something like a curry (no flour) eating it with green beans instead of rice; or a traditional British meal without potatoes followed by cheese and strawberries and cream. I lost 18 pounds in two weeks and felt better than I had for a decade.

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