Why I love the South Beach diet

Friday, August 22, 2008

Well, this is sort of in response to a question from a long-time online buddy of mine, Kim, who lives in New Orleans and asked me if South Beach was as easy as I made it seem. I can't vouch for its ease if I lived in the French Quarter where food really is part of the culture, with eccentric eateries on every block. But, here's a little more about our experience and pitfalls thus far.

Have you ever tried a low carb diet? I tried Atkins once, and I literally felt like a sausage after the first couple of days. I ate so much MEAT! I won't claim to know about Atkins because I probably wasn't doing it right, but I love that I can eat lots of veggies on the South Beach diet. Technically, it's not a low-carb diet, it's a low-glycemic diet, so most of the foods on the "don't eat" list are there because they change your blood sugar and make you crave more bad food. Healthy stuff like corn, carrots, and watermelon are on the bad list. Sometimes, I'll notice the sugar levels in some of the good food, like cabbage, and panic for a minute thinking I've been sabotaging myself this whole time. But cabbage is on the list, and I can eat as much as I want. Trust the book, not the labels.

I would suggest starting the diet on a Friday evening, or sometime when you have a couple of days to lounge around. Our bodies were a little pissed about the sugar deprivation, and we didn't hesitate to lounge around the whole weekend as our bodies adjusted. It would've been harder at work. Once you get through it though, you're fine! About day 3, we were totally adjusted.

I make something for breakfast on the weekends. Check out Kalyn's Kitchen (link to the right in my blog list), and navigate to her breakfasts. There are plenty of options there. I am a little egged out by now, but if I just prepare them a different way, it helps. I made her egg muffins for a few weeks in a row, but now I think I'll just cook up an egg casserole and cut a piece out in the mornings, because it's a little easier than the muffins. Now that we are on "phase 2", I switch up breakfast a little with South Beach bars about every other day. This doesn't seem to have affected my results.

You're supposed to cut back on caffeine, but I shamelessly drink it up. I read that the reason is, caffeine makes you crave more sweets. But I was doing fine even with the caffeine, so I allow myself to have my thermos of coffee with sugar-free creamer, my diet DP, and my splenda-sweetened tea. I might quit caffeine one day, but not in school. LOL

After the first two weeks, "Phase 1", we celebrated with a bottle of wine, and I felt exhausted the next day. I have said it before, and I'll say it again. Getting out of the swing of drinking wine regularly is probably the best benefit for us so far. We feel better, enjoy the extra energy, and don't feel so much like drinking. Does that mean that I'm not going to sneak mini-bottles of wine into the theater when I finally see Mamma Mia? No, but we definitely don't drink regularly anymore.

You might feel hungry. Even after I eat, I have this feeling like my stomach is having to eat itself. I suppose I want my stomach to eat my body! The feeling doesn't make you want to eat though. I can't explain it. It's a skinny feeling. It makes me feel like drinking water and exercising. It's this feeling of not having eaten so much that you're miserable.

That's not to say that you can't eat as much as you want though. As long as I am eating South Beach food, I'll let myself eat as much as I want. I want less though. You can find us on a weeknight struggling to finish one grilled pork chop and a salad with fresh veggies. Seriously. When we used to shake n' bake em, we could put away 2 chops or more along with some instant taters.

Like any diet, we struggle when we are unprepared. The week that followed our camping weekend was difficult because I hadn't done any grocery shopping or meal planning. I just had to go to the grocery store on my way home a few days to keep us in business. But we got right back on the saddle this week no problem.

Being at school isn't a struggle because I can eat salads from Chick-fil-a or wherever. I try to pack my lunch as much as possible, mostly because I'd rather work through lunch. And when you're done with Phase 1, you can pick the carbs that are important to you and add em back. We had whole wheat pasta one day, but I made sure to only cook 2 servings of it, when in the past we would have cooked the whole box. We are having burgers tonight in whole wheat pitas instead of buns. You can make ranch dip and have a "veggie tray", which is always delicious and you don't have to feel bad when you dip as much ranch possible onto the tinest veggie piece you can find.

When have we cheated? We had rum and tortilla chips on our camping trip, we had a fried ice cream blast from Sonic one day (which we'll probably have again tonight!), we had potatoes at my boss' birthday party the other night. It's not that we aren't indulging, it's just that most of the time we don't want to. And the thought of "earning a cheat" isn't what keeps me motivated, it's the fact that I'm losing weight and fitting into my clothes.

So anyway, I think it's been about 5 weeks and we're still going strong. Whether it's easy or not I guess is subjective, but we are definitely loving it and would highly recommend it.


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