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Die at South Beach

My doctor informed me to “lose the gut” by the time I see him again in six months. He recommended the South Beach Diet because A) it was developed by a cardiologist and B) he’d read numerous positive experiences with the “program.” So I did some research of my own before dropping the money on a copy of the book.

Seems the first edition drew a bit of ire in the health community for not including an exercise regimen and some of the data were off. I don’t know. I didn’t bother tracking down the specifics but did decide the general information I found made sense.

So I picked up a copy of The South Beach Diet Superchargedย at my local B&N and waded into the reading. Fortunately, the writing is in an easy-to-read-and-digest format. I’ve read some of the fad diet books and found my eyes glazing by the end of the first page, and when I DID make it further into the book (usually by flipping to a random section and reading from there) the reasoning behind the “diet” and what the writer wanted you to do to achieve maximum weight loss made absolutely zero sense.

Anyway, the thrust of the South Beach Diet is to eliminate “bad” carbs, those found in processed foods like cookies, crackers, and other “junk food,” white bread, white potatoes, white rice (am I detecting a trend here?) and so on, replacing them with “good” carbs. Yadda yah. I’m not going into it all here. You can find that kind of information elsewhere on the ‘net. You don’t count calories. You don’t weigh your food. Your food doesn’t come in prepackaged proportions. You eat sensible meals consisting of a high protein–such as fish, chicken (white meat only, here, go figure), and so on–plenty of vegetables, a little dairy (nothing over 1% milk). You eat until satisfied, but try to limit yourself to correct food portions.

Wait. Didn’t I mention above no weighing of food? In today’s society how does someone figure out “correct” portioning without weighing something, ala Biggest-Loser-approach-to-dieting? Cuts of meat are supposed to be about 4 ounces, roughly “the size of a deck of playing cards.” And what card game would that be? Using what sized deck? I’ve also read in one of the countless periodicals I’ve perused something mentioning 4 ounces being roughly “the size of your palm.” Come again? My palm is considerably bigger than my son’s. I have a friend whose palm is nearly double the size of mine. So whose palm am I using to measure the portion size of fish on my plate?

And what the heck is the proper portion size in the first place? One place I’ve read 4 ounces of meat. Another mentions 3 ounces. Yet another says 5. Sheesh. What a pain.

But back to SBD.

The first two weeks of the “program” you cut out all grains (no bread, no rice, no oatmeal, etc.) and all fruit, plus a list of other foods to avoid. You also exercise: interval walking one day (that’s walking at a relatively easy pace for a two-minute warm up followed by a short spurt of faster walking, followed by another minute or so of easy walking, and so on for about 20 minutes), stretches and “core building” exercises designed to strengthen your core muscles, the abdominals, the muscles along the spine, and so on.

The reasoning for removing the fruit, the starchy veggies, the white rice and anything with extra sugar and such is because those convert to (or start as) sugar in the body and don’t send along any nutrients. The extra weight is because the body has gone into insulin overload and something has to be done to lower the body’s insulin resistance and get things back where they belong. I’m doing a lousy job of explaining it, yes. The authors have at least done their work correctly here. In SBDSC it all makes sense. To me, at least.

Good to go.

I’m now into the second week of Phase One, and man is it hard. Most of the commentary I’ve read on it has indicated the first few days are bad but after that it’s not too difficult to follow. In my experience, the first few days weren’t too bad. I’ve actually been trying to eat somewhat sensibly for years. I eat fish at least once a week, if not more often. I eat fruits. I eat vegetables (carrots, broccoli, green beans, and celery are favorites). I don’t pig out on fast food all the time (well, when I’m not shuttling the kids to two million different activities, and I haven’t done that in awhile). I prefer brown rice over white, whole wheat breads, whole wheat pastas, and so on.

By day four, I really wanted an apple. On day five, I woke up and wanted oatmeal with a banana. I’m going nuts here. I dream about whole wheat pasta smothered in tomato sauce with a handful of meatballs. (Now, the tomato sauce [no added sugar] and the meatballs [extra lean beef] are fine with the SBD, but not the pasta.) I’ll admit it, yes, I would like a handful of Doritos and a glass of sweet tea, but the things I miss most are the things that–thankfully–I get to add back in, albeit slowly, in a little less than a week.

But the really hard part about it is the schedule. You eat breakfast in the morning, then two hours or so later, eat a snack. Then, you eat lunch and another two hours or so later, you eat another snack. You eat dinner and can have dessert with it (sugar-free fudgsicles, sugar-free Jell-O, a piece or two of dark chocolate with no added sugar and so on).

I’m a stay-at-home dad and I have a hard time following that schedule. Imagine the difficulty of those who actually have to punch a clock for a living? My wife doesn’t get that kind of break schedule to eat snacks. She hardly even has time to suck down last night’s leftovers for her “lunch hour” which is all of fifteen minutes most days. Needless to say, I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve missed my “snack time” (which I guess I did take years ago when both my kids were home full-time) usually in the morning. Who thinks to eat a snack between breakfast and lunch?

I’ve managed to get something of a handle on the whole snack thing, the idea behind which is to stave off hunger, which kicks the body into conservation mode, thus storing more calories during your next meal.

Phase Two brings back whole wheats and fruits, a glass of wine at dinner on occasion (yeah, no alcohol during phase one; I failed to mention that because I seldom drink the stuff), yet a little bit at a time, as in one or two a day and no more. You steadily increase if your body had adjusted okay, meaning, I guess, that you don’t shoot back up to your pre-Phase One weight.

Speaking of which, during my research and reading the book SBDSC, all the testimonials give glowing reports of those who’ve used this plan having lost 10, 30, 50, 100 pounds during Phase One, and they felt great.

During this period, I’ve lost all of 1 pound.

Yep, you read that right: 1 whole pound.

I really wonder if those “testimonials” were hot air, or were they delivered by people who had at minimumย 100 pounds to lose to get close to a healthy weight? Don’t know. Do know I haven’t lost even a fraction of that.

Is it worth it? I don’t know. I’ll let you know once I’ve gotten into Phase Two and then into Phase Three (if I think about it and if there’s interest).

Right now, I need to go eat a bag of Cheetos.


3 responses »

  1. AHHHHHHH…the cook in my almost died reading how you are punishing yourself. Stop it please. I don’t know who or what in the hell South Beach is, but the key part of that is BEACH as in they are out on the beach doing stuff. Eat some rice, Asia and thousands of years of history can’t be wrong about that. Get out and walk. Start yoga. But for the love of deity man and for the cook inside me start eating and feeling like a person again. That being said, get out and do some physical exercise it will all make you feel better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Says the man who plays video games hours on end. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Oh, I walk. Been walking for years now. Tend to hit a minimum of 3 miles a day at least 4 days a week during good weather. That typically drops to a minimum of 1 mile in cold weather because either A) it’s just too cold to walk or B) I get bored on the ski machine/elliptical/treadmill indoors. And, yes, the SBD (at least the edition I have) DOES emphasize getting outside and exercising. Now, the one thing this has done for me is force me to look at foods other than wheat/rice/corn-based filler as the side dish (i.e., more veggies). That’s a good thing.
    And the first phase is only 2 weeks–no longer. I can live through that.
    I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Pingback: Die at South Beach, Again « M. Darin Young

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