By Shaun Chavis
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Please indulge me a little this week. I'd like to share some of my sincere personal excitement with you over the release of our new diet book, The CarbLovers Diet.

We had been working on CarbLovers for two years…and so I was thrilled to hold a copy in my hands, finally! What's more satisfying, though, is to have been able to watch what happened with a small group of people here in Birmingham, Ala., who agreed to try our diet for 12 weeks.

CarbLovers has had two test groups: You can read the success stories of the first group, made up of dieters in the New York City area, in the book and on

The second group started this spring, in Birmingham. We gave them the book materials along with the menus and recipes, set up group meetings, and scheduled one-on-one consultations with Sonthe Burge, a registered dietitian. (Burge is a terrifically cool RD, who breaks the stereotype and who is now the online dietitian).

Our dieters also have a private Google group, where they share their experiences with each other and cheer one another on.

You'll find the basic tenets of CarbLovers here. But in a nutshell, our senior food and nutrition editor, Frances Largeman-Roth, and I both came across research about Resistant Starch a few years ago.

I kept researching, and what I found not only impacted our work at Health, it also changed the way I eat. I started incorporating Resistant Starch into my own diet. Now, I pretty much eat the way we prescribe in CarbLovers, except that I eat the bulk of my calories at breakfast, and I've also changed my daily calories according to recommendations from my own RD and physician.

About the dieters: Even with all of our understanding of the science behind weight loss, actually doing the diet can feel like a leap of faith, or a journey into the unknown. It's a good change, but it's a change that's very personal and a bit unraveling. And you don't know for sure what's going to happen…whether it'll work.

For the last three months I've had a chance to be on that journey with a group of 14 people: 13 women and one man. I want to share one story with you here.

Maria & Joycelyn


Joycelyn, left and Maria, right

Maria Parker Hopkins is the copy chief at Cooking Light—she's just around the corner from my office. Her sister, Joycelyn Parker Gunn, is the one who really wanted to follow the diet, and Maria wanted to do it with her sister for support.

Joycelyn incorporated the diet to the letter and lost 9 pounds her first week. (That is not typical! We were blown away.) Maria lost 8 pounds, and Joycelyn lost a total of 18.5 pounds in our 12-week trial.

Maria says that her relationship with her sister has been key to their success. “My sister Joycelyn and I had a bit of an advantage over the rest of the group in that we had a 37-year-strong support system in place from the outset," Maria explains.

"We talked several times a day, sharing tips and struggles, encouraging each other to hang in there. I had an even bigger advantage: Joycelyn would bring me leftovers when I didn’t have time to cook.”

When Joycelyn walked into our last group meeting, everyone was stunned at how great she looked. What's more, Joycelyn has made CarbLovers an even bigger family affair: Her husband weighed 280 pounds, and she worried about his health. So he started doing CarbLovers with her two weeks after she began.

Last week Joycelyn told me he's lost 26 pounds. “What has been a lifetime struggle for my husband and me has turned into a lifestyle change in just 12 weeks," she said in an email. "He’s 26 pounds lighter; I’m 18 pounds lighter—and we’re still going strong.”