The day after Pamela Castleberg turned 54, she felt sluggish, out of sorts, and sick to her stomach. It was only then that the Wisconsin grandma realized she had demolished half of a chocolate cake on her birthday. Standing at only 5'7", the realtor weighed 194 pounds due to a fast-food habit and menopause hitting her much harder than she'd expected. But as she told WomansWorld.com, something changed for her on that day.
"It all came down to when I looked in the mirror and the only thing about me that I recognized was my green eyes," Pamela said. "Something just clicked in me and I said, literally out loud, 'Enough!'"
She was sick of the weight affecting her ability to play with her four precious grandchildren, not to mention her level of confidence in general. So in the summer of 2017, she decided to try the Atkins diet. Pamela chose Atkins because it was a low-carb eating plan — and one that was low in sugar.
"Diabetes runs in my family, and I knew that I was on my way to joining my family members on their daily routine of testing blood and doing injections," Pamela said. "And I did not want to join that group, so I joined the Atkins group."
She followed the four phases of the Atkins diet — induction, balancing, pre-maintenance, and lifetime maintenance — and says she still follows them today. The four phases involve a strict intro of cutting out almost all carbs, followed by periods of slowly adding different foods such as more vegetables, fruits, and seeds. Of course, this diet was a far cry from the fast food she was so used to eating.
As it turned out, pursuing the low-carb lifestyle worked marvelously for Pamela’s weight-loss goals. She shed 56 pounds in just seven months, slimming down to a healthy 138 pounds. She went from wearing a size 18 or 20 in pants to a size 6 or 8. Plus, she quickly noticed a change to her daily outlook on food: Instead of picking up unhealthy snacks when on the go, she yearned to nourish her body with healthier alternatives.
Now, she makes veggie and meat omelets for breakfast, sometimes with low-carb pita bread. For lunches and dinners, she often enjoys homemade stir-fry with riced cauliflower as a substitute for white rice, along with chicken, broccoli, celery, assorted peppers, a few onions, and just a dash of soy sauce. She also prepares homemade fajitas with similar healthy ingredients and liquid smoke for flavor.
Getting into a healthier lifestyle even inspired her to up her fitness game by walking with her best friend, doing a daily yoga stretch, and adopting a dance-routine workout.
"I turn on the CD player and dance all over the house," Pamela said. "It is freeing and there is no judgment. I even keep the blinds open. Maybe it will inspire the neighbors!"
But don’t think that Pamela never gets to indulge her sweet tooth. For treats, Pamela adores Atkins shakes, sometimes freezing them and eating them like Icees. She also enjoys Atkins candy bar snacks and treats. Sometimes, she gets creative and makes her own trail mix with Atkins chocolate pieces and low-sodium nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.
This isn’t to say her journey has been without challenges. Just a couple weeks after she hit her goal weight, she was in a car accident that left her with whiplash and a pinched nerve. She soon started wondering how she'd maintain the weight loss with her new injuries. Despite the major setback, she was determined not to gain back the weight.
"I am still recovering from the car accident, and have nerve damage and still seeking treatment, but by eating right and exercising to my limits, I have been able to maintain the weight loss," she said. "I really believe it is because the food choices I make are good for healing my body and mind."
Today, Pamela is happy to talk with anyone who asks about her weight loss. She said that her experience has not only changed her life, but has also motivated many of her friends and co-workers to make changes in their lives as well.
"I feel so confident again, confident in the 'funny, outgoing woman' I used to be, not the 'funny fat woman,'" she said. "I have come to really appreciate the foods that I put in my mouth. Food just tastes better. I have more energy to participate in the sports that I love, attending sports events, and sitting comfortably in the crowded seats. So, what has changed in my life? Me, totally me!"