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Shepherdstown welcomes famous diet doctor

By Staff | May 27, 2016

The growing movement in Jefferson County dubbed the “Low Carb Revolution” met Saturday at the Clarion Inn and Conference Center in Shepherdstown with a very special guest of honor.

Over 350 were in attendance to welcome world renowned author, weight loss doctor and metabolic expert, Dr. Eric Westman, who wrote the best-selling book, “The New Atkins for the New You.” Westman is an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Health System, director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic and Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

Melanie Miller, the woman who has spearheaded the “Low Carb Revolution,” kicked off the afternoon with her own testimony of gaining almost 100 pounds after suffering a severe leg break. Miller said she ate candy and sugary foods to self-medicate for the pain, but fell into a vicious circle where the “medicine” of junk food would stave off pain, but make her feel worse in the long run.

“That accident changed my life,” said Miller. “I was broken. I was hurting inside. As a nurse, I had seen a whole lot of people get addicted to pain pills. So I made a decision that I was not going to take much pain medicine-in fact, I cut it out completely. But I ended up with an addiction of another kind. My addiction to sugar was real.”

She began following the low carb, high fat diet in late summer, 2015 after meeting Dr. Mark Cucuzzella who gave her information about a new way of eating found in Westman’s book. Miller began the program at the end of July and has lost almost 80 pounds in nine months.

An expert in public relations, Miller has worked tirelessly since starting her journey to spread the word to help as many people as possible. She has introduced the Westman plan to over 4,500 people and counting.

Miller outlined her three keys for success.

“First, you have to relate,” said Miller. “You have to relate to other people by forming relationships with folks who are on the same path, have the same struggles. You have to have support to make a lifestyle change work.”

“The second thing is to repeat. This is a new lifestyle habit. You have to practice, and keep doing it over and over. Practice your habit and master it. If you continually make different choices (of healthy food), then you won’t even want the bad stuff.”

Miller continued, “After a while, when healthy eating becomes a habit, it’s automatic. It becomes natural, then easy. Change requires training.”

“The third key to change, is that you have to reframe. This is a new way of life. Relationships help you to learn new ways of thinking about your situation. The more you share your journey with others, the more it will keep you in the game.”

Miller attributed much of her success to watching Westman videos and reading material he had published.

Miller then welcomed Dr. Eric Westman to the podium, where he humbly began by saying that he didn’t come up with this diet. He gave credit to William Banting who, in 1863, wrote a booklet titled, “Letter on Corpulence,” which outlined an eating plan that included meats, leafy green vegetables, some fruits and avoided sugars. The diet was referred to as the “Banting” diet.

Westman then went on to cite the work of the famed Dr. Atkins, with whom he worked. Westman developed clinical research and controlled trials based on the work Atkins was doing, and dedicated 15 years to doing research.

In explanation of the low carb, high fat lifestyle, Westman said, “Recent research suggests that when your body burns fat for fuel, the body runs more efficiently, and has less wear and tear. You’ve heard testimonies of people’s arthritis getting better without much weight loss because there’s less wear and tear. Even more exciting is that this way of eating may be useful to optimize physical performance. There’s also research coming down the pike that this may be used to treat conditions like Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.”

Westman continued, “Just getting the research going is a tremendous challenge in the medical mainstream. I feel I’ve been privileged to be able to be a part of that research and privileged to be able to provide the information to you today. What I’ve learned through a career of research is that the system is broken. The research, guidelines, and teaching system is broken. It’s a grassroots movement that’s going to change the world.”

Westman’s program teaches people how to eliminate carbohydrates from their diets, how to read labels when grocery shopping and which foods to eat to lower insulin levels and help the body burn fat as fuel. A natural, proven by-product of changing the diet in this way is weight loss and reversal of many diseases.

“The great thing is,” said Westman, “is that all of this healing is possible just by changing food.”

Westman spent almost two hours talking to participants and answering questions.

There were also several people who gave testimonies about their own experiences with the low carb lifestyle.

All had lost weight, ranging from 15 pounds to over 100 pounds lost. Many shared about other health improvements such as less pain, lower blood pressure, normal blood sugar levels, no more plantar fasciitis, less joint pain, lessening of pain and discomfort from rheumatoid arthritis, lower cholesterol and more.

Lisa Fleming from Charles Town had been diagnosed with Sjorgren’s Syndrome, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes severe fatigue, chronic pain lymphoma’s and other symptoms.

“I had all this pain and it was so hard to play with my children,” said Fleming.

“The doctors told me to go on a low fat diet. Then they told me to take all this ibuprofen, and Alleve for the pain. After another doctor visit, I was told not to take those pain meds because I was getting a hole in my stomach. There was nothing I could do. Then I met Melanie (Miller). She told me about this way of eating and I’ve lost 19 pounds and I have no pain anymore.”

Kenneth Davault from Silver Spring, Maryland, had done four tours of duty in Iraq. In January 2008, an IED (improvised explosive device) blew up the vehicle he was in putting him in a coma for 14 months. He was being cared for at a VA hospital where he underwent physical therapy. He said his weight had climbed to 313 pounds due to being sedentary for so long, despite physical therapy.

“I went to my doctor,” said Davault, “and I told him I was tired of being the fat guy in the room. I used to be a 165 pound, lean, mean, fighting machine. My doctor, Dr. Clark, put me on (the Westman) diet. I went to my kitchen in my apartment next to Walter Reed Hospital, and I got two trash bags and cleaned out my kitchen of junk. In 28 weeks, I’ve lost 75 pounds, and I no longer have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.”

After the event, many of the participants enjoyed a low carb buffet meal at the Clarion, where Westman signed books for people and entertained event goers by playing keyboards and singing favorite tunes. He said it is a common practice at his Duke clinic to serenade people who reach a 50 pound weight loss or higher.

Dr. Westman’s book, “The New Atkins for the New You”, and his latest booklet, “Adapt Your Life,” are both available on Amazon. He has also developed a low carb nutrition bar that is a healthy alternative to other supplement bars on the market, called the Adapt bar.

To find out more information about local low carb meetings or for support, find Melanie Miller on Facebook at Melanie’s Low Carb Journey or visit her website, melanieslowcarbjourney.com.