I decided college would be a new start for me so halfway through my senior year I cut out all carbs based on the Atkins recommendation. At the same time I cut out all fast food and sodas, I haven't looked back since. I immediately felt better. I breathed more easily, I was more energized, and clothes were looser for the first time in my entire life. People kept telling me how much better I looked, and truth is I hadn't even weighed myself once since I began the whole change. It got to the point where my classmates started spreading the rumor that i was anorexic, to which I laughed to because I was eating more comfortably than ever. About a month after I started, I felt so much more energized that I decided to go running at nights; soon half a mile became a mile, and a mile became two. I lost a little over a 100 lbs in about 6 months, and though I think it was a bit too fast, I believe the exercise helped tighten my skin, avoiding the excess flabby skin that happens usually when weight loss is too rapid. Exercise also helped me keep the weight off by creating new habits and and improved metabolism.
After I lost the weight I started including carbs back up into my diet, out of fear based on Conventional Wisdom that lack of carbs could kill me. So I struggled on after that, watching what I ate, the amount, the calories, avoiding sweets as best I could. My weighed has gone up and down many times, and I've never been able to achieve the body I desire.
Recently, nonetheless, I discovered CrossFit and Paleo, which have changed my life. Paleo has multiplied the results I had in high-school, and it has taught me to eat vegetables. I have lost most of the stubborn fat that I hadn't been able to lose for 7 years, and have become more active now than ever. I feel great about eating for the first time in my life; I actually know that what I'm eating isn't only healthy, but making me healthier! I love Paleo because it has given me a new lifestyle, one that makes me want to go out and do things, instead of sitting at home watching TV and feeling guilty about what I eat.
The biggest challenge is the environment. Everyone around you thinks you're nuts, following a crazy fad diet that will clog up your arteries and doesn't eat whole wheat (seriously, people can't grasp it). Eating out becomes a challenge, especially when everyone in your family resorts to fast food constantly.
What advice (if any) would you give to someone interested in trying a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet? Were there any obstacles that you overcame that could help future dieters?
Learn how to cook. Eating at home is the first thing on the list. After that, learn how to plan ahead so that you don't have to resort to unhealthy meals when hunger strikes. I would recommend a 30 day strict Paleo detox, so that you completely start anew and your body (and mind) adapts to the new diet. You have to become independent and confident in what you know you want and what is right for you. It's you against the world (for now). Also, relax. Relaxing in general is extremely important, but learn how to relax about food. Stop thinking about "breaking the diet" and such things. If you had a bagel, that's just having a bagel. Not the best thing for you, but as long as you follow a Paleo diet most of the time, it won't become an awful scenario.