Rebecca Latham, Atkins Forum All-Star and Low Carb Success Story:
A World-Exclusive Interview

If you have ever visited the Atkins forum to get answers to nagging questions about the diet or lifestyle, there is a good chance you have been helped by a wonderful woman named Rebecca Latham.

Rebecca is not a dietitian or doctor, but she has read an incredible amount about nutrition science.

She boasts a deep understanding of the principles.

Why-Low-Carb-Diets-Work is honored to have her as an interview guest.

We guarantee that you will gain a lot from looking through the world through Rebecca’s perspective. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Atkins Forum All Star
Rebecca Latham: Atkins Forum All-Star

Welcome, Rebecca, and thank you again for doing this Q&A.

You were featured as an Atkins success story in The New Atkins for a New You -- guided by none other than Colette Heimowitz. In that interview, you mention that you have tried practically every diet plan out there, from the Ice Cream Diet to The Zone to The Schwarzbein Principle. What are you eating these days, and why?

Although I still think of what I do as Atkins, I have decided to avoid some of the things Atkins allows, which is one of the ways we are encouraged by Atkins to make the eating plan "our own". For instance, I am trying to eat all organic vegetables and grass fed beef, free range chickens, happy pigs, and that sort of thing. And although Atkins allows grains in the higher levels, I have decided to avoid grains entirely for the rest of my life, even if they are allowed. I am toying with the idea of cutting out dairy, but I'm still thinking about that one, and I have more research to do on that subject!

It's very important for me, personally, to stick with natural foods as much as possible.  I want to be healthy, and eating processed foods, with added artificial ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and such would be counterproductive.  I also want to maintain a healthy Omega 6/Omega 3 balance in my body, and eating feedlot meat will not let me reach that goal.  That balance is so important, in that a high Omega 6 balance will cause inflammation, which is starting to be seen as the beginning of all sorts of disease states, if not all.

So what am I eating right now?  Organic beef, chicken, pork, nitrate and nitrite free uncured bacon, wild caught fish, Omega 3 eggs, organic vegetables, a very small amount of berries, and healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado and avocado oil, grass fed butter, ghee (clarified butter, which removes casein), bacon grease, and a small amount of nuts, such as pecans, almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts.

Here are the things I avoid like the plague:  Processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, genetically modified foods, starchy vegetables, including potatoes, rice, and pasta, all grains and most foods that come with a nutritional label!

Currently, for the past month or so, I have also been limiting my eating to a five-hour window each day.  Although I don't buy into the standard "calories in calories out" model (as popularly understood and pushed by the government), I recognize that, because of my small stature, I can't eat as much food as others might be able to, and starting to eat around 2 pm and stopping around 7 pm helps me keep my food intake at a good level for me. 

Sure, I feel some hunger in the beginning of the day, but then I get to eat however much I need to feel satisfied for the next several hours, without having to try to limit myself to a certain number of fat grams or carb grams or protein grams for the day.  I have found that eating this way has been working naturally for me, and I'm losing weight.  Today, I am only 6 pounds away from my goal.  I basically eat high fat, moderate protein and low carb.

I also want to mention my commitment to weight lifting as a very important component to my healthy lifestyle.  I am against excessive cardio, and practice interval cardio training, which I talk about on my blog.

Has your diet odyssey changed your general outlook on the world?

It most definitely has!  I am more conscious of the way that food is produced, and I am way more conscious of the role that the government has had in the current obesity epidemic.  The research I have done has opened my eyes to the corruption that is involved in the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry and even the medical community.  When you have Big Pharma paying for the research that claims that statin drugs, for example, are healthy, that is a major problem!

I have also changed the way that I look at overweight people.  Before I was overweight myself, I was very judgmental.  I would look down at obese people and wonder why they didn't care enough about themselves to eat less and exercise more.  Then, through no fault of my own, I began to gain weight, and no amount of caloric restriction or exercise would take it back off. Now, knowing what I know about the effect of processed foods and excessive carbs on the human body, I see through more compassionate eyes.  Especially upsetting is seeing overweight adults with their overweight children, and knowing that they are not doing it on purpose, but have been mislead, and don't know how to change.  I long to be able to reach out to the people who have gained weight following the government's recommendations, and let them know that they are on the wrong track.  Obviously, making up pamphlets and handing them out to chubby strangers I see on the street is not the answer!

You recently started a blog: My Low Carb Road to Better Health. Wonderful stuff, by the way. What motivated you to do this, and has it been rewarding for you?

I actually started the blog because I was being interviewed by Jimmy Moore of The Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show.  I saw that most, if not all, of his guests had either written a book, or had done important research, or were medical professionals, or at the very least, had a blog.  So I started my blog so that there would be something to connect me to the people that enjoyed my interview and wanted to know more.

I had been keeping track of the stats of my weight loss journey on the Atkins Community Forum, but I decided to switch over to my blog.  That way, I could post photos and videos and links to research in addition to my weight charts and daily menus.

Aside from my personal stats, most of the things I post on my blog are from other sources, but I do plan on starting to do some writing myself.  I post articles that I find interesting or informative that I find on the internet on the subjects of health, diet, exercise, weigh lifting, drugs, vitamins and supplements, natural hormones, sleep and anything else that excites me or inspires me.  I just think of the blog as a place for me to store all the things that matter to me, and I hope that those same things will be of interest to people who stop by.  I guess it's my small way to try to enlighten and educate people on the benefits of good health.

On your blog, I love how you poignantly and honestly document your struggle with Those Last Ten Pounds. What advice can you give other low carbers who struggle with this issue? What have you figured out?

I think that the most important thing to realize is that this is for the rest of your life.  It's not a race, and there is no deadline you have to meet.  Oh, sure, you might want to lose the weight before the cruise, or the high school reunion, or the wedding, and I understand that.  But whatever your goal is, whether it be losing a certain amount of weight by a certain date or just generally getting healthier and losing weight in the process, your body will give up the fat when it is darn good and ready to, and you may have little or no control over that!

As an example of lack of control, I found out early in my journey that my hormones were severely unbalanced.  When you have low thyroid function or estrogen dominance, for instance, good luck trying to lose weight!  You might eat perfectly, and be active, and still not lose weight, or you may even gain weight.  Hormones control so many of the bodily processes that control body fat and muscle, that ignoring them will lead to all kinds of frustration.  So one of the things I have learned is that it's not all about what you eat or how active you are.  Many people will have trouble losing weight, and the first thing they do is decrease food and increase activity, to the point where they are malnourished and stressed from too much exercise.  Losing weight is not simple for many of us, and there are a lot of factors that come into play beyond what we put into our mouths!

As desperately as I wanted to lose 30 pounds, my main concern was getting healthy and getting fit and avoiding disease.  If I stop eating processed foods, but don't lose weight right away, is that still a victory?  You bet it is!  I have been on this quest for almost a year and a half, and I have not lost near as much as some others have, but I feel good about my health and I am in a good place emotionally about it.  Focus on health, not on weight loss.  That's my advice.  Weight loss will come, sooner or later.

You are a prominent contributor to the Atkins Forum. Has there been any discussion recently that has really surprised you -- made you think about diet/health in a new way?

I'm glad you brought up the Atkins Forum.  One of the things that I ran out of time to talk about in the Jimmy Moore interview was the Atkins Forum.  The Forum has been a life saver to me!  When I started there, I thought it was just a place to ask a question and get an answer.  I had no idea that I was going to quickly get sucked headlong into a true community of real, caring people who would take all the time it took to help me.  I never expected to make friends there, and I have.  I'm not sure what other forums are like, or if there are other ones out there like this one, as far as relationship goes.  I have visited other forums here and there, and have not found the love and compassion and willingness to serve that I found on the Atkins forum.

I try to spend as much time there as I can, although it is less now that I am working on my own blog.  I feel confident that I could send anyone there and they would be loved and accepted and helped.

Before I came to the forum, I was already well versed on the science behind the low carb way of eating, so I can't say that I've been really surprised by the recent discussions.  The information there is substantial, and if someone wants to understand what low carb is all about, the forum is a great place to start!

What should we in the low carb community be doing to shake our brethen on the Standard American Diet (SAD) out of their sugar-induced stupor? How can we get people to pay more attention to this stuff?

That's a great question, and one I wish I had a great answer to!  I struggle with this every day.  I want to share what I know with everyone I meet, but the truth is that many, many people are just not that interested, or have been so influenced by the USDA Food Pyramid that they are very distrustful of a different point of view.  I've spoken to people who have told me point blank that they will not stop eating chips, even if they know it's bad for them.  People have told me I am crazy and misguided for giving up bread, even though I don't miss it at all.  Recently, a friend of mine compared my belief that saturated fat does not cause heart disease to the belief that the Holocaust did not happen.  Now, that is a strongly held opinion, and one that will likely not be shaken easily!

I think there are two basic groups of people - those that care about their health and those that care less about their health than the first group.  Is there a chance that the second group will be impacted by our example and testimony?  Maybe.  We can always be there ready to answer questions when someone says, "You look great!  What are you doing?"  But we have to be prepared for a rejection of our views most of the time from these people.

That first group, the group that really cares about health and is desperate to know why they can't get healthy and lose weight, that's were we can have an impact.  When people's minds are open to hear what we have to say, there is no limit to the amount of influence that we can have.  My struggle remains finding the best way to get the info out there where people can't help but find it.  I try to do what I can, and I wish I could do more.  Whenever I find a great article and post it on my blog, I always put a link to it on my Facebook page.  I'm not sure how many people read the articles, but they could get passed along from one "friend" to another, and who knows who may end up benefiting by it?

Just think of it this way - at one time, you and I both believed something that we have now found to be false.  We were looking for real help and we found it.  There are others like us, out there right now, trying to find answers.  Let's hope they find us and the others who are getting the facts into the public eye!

Looking to the future, how long do you think it will be before the dominant diet paradigm (low fat, low calorie) gets knocked out and replaced by low carb? Do you think it ever will?

Well, Adam, I just don't think I am informed enough about that subject to make a good guess.  I know that I see more and more about low carb eating on the internet, but that may be because I am part of a small community that looks for that stuff!  How many people outside our community are seeing what we see?  A better question would be: How can we make that information more visible to the country and the world at large?  Is the best way a mass marketing scheme, or do we continue to expand the grass roots movement that is developing with our individual stories and our blogging and our lives?

Will the way the world eats change from low calorie, low fat to a healthy low carb paradigm?

I hope so.  I really do!  Will I get to see it in my lifetime?  If I do, I hope that my contribution will, in a small but significant way, have been part of that new reality!

Thanks for a terrific interview, Rebecca!

Be sure to check out Rebeccas new blog

And mark your calendars for September 23, 2010 -- her appearance on Jimmy Moore’s Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show

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