Friday, January 28, 2005

Diets

I've never been on a diet before. I lost weight through regular exercise (rode my bicycle to work and back most days for about a year) several years ago. I've been working out since and have increased muscle mass -- that helps you burn calories when you're just sitting still.

At any rate, Vickster's wanting to lose weight, and was heavier than I've ever been (part of it's the muscle, but part of it definitely isn't). So, this time through, I decided to go on a diet with her.

Now if you know me, I'm a big proponent of personal responsibility and self-control. And I'm here to tell you that after 4 days, it really isn't easy. But... it is doable.


To quote Mark Knopfler, "Sometimes you gotta be an S.O.B., if you want to make a dream a reality".

And in this case, the person you have to be an S.O.B. with is yourself.

So we're doin' South Beach. It's easier to deal with meals, since you're basically changing the kinds of foods you eat instead of eating less food or starving. But for a guy who's used to being able to grab anything anytime -- especially a beer, the first two (or three) heavily carb restricted weeks is, I must say, tough. I like a bit of whiskey in the evening. The bread in the store smells better than ever. The beer looks fresher somehow, foamier. More refreshing. I'd say the hardest part for me has really been not being able to grab a little glass of whiskey in the evening.

The first day, I was a little hungry by late morning, but not bad. The food is good, but it is a pain to fix -- not really relative to other cooking, but frankly we haven't cooked much in the last few years. So any food preparation, chopping, mixing is more work than we're used to. Cuts into guitar playing time, for sure.

I imagine eventually we'll get used to the recipies and do what we've been doing with other foods. Cook a big dinner, and scarf on it for several days. We're already doing some of that. The fake mashed potatoes (mashed cauliflower) is very good, and we made several days worth. We can cook up a bunch of chicken breasts ahead of time to reheat, and stuff like that. It'll get better. And we won't be on this "75 grams of carbohydrate a day, and as little of it sugar as possible" part forever.

So between wanting some of your favorite things, and the pain of fixing stuff you're not used to fixing, and re-learning shopping habits -- it's not easy. Not only do you have to say "No", to the little voice in your head, you have to argue with it, too. And most importantly, you have to win.

So far, I can say I've won. And it's paying off. Drop your blood sugar to minimal levels, and after a couple of days of depleting your liver's glycogen, your body is left with no choice but to burn fat. And you really have to be a butthead with yourself to keep your blood sugar low. One sugary snack or baked potato or pile of chips or crackers, or beer and you're back to square one.

I weighed myself every morning the week before we started, and the scale was consistent. I went up and down in a 4 lb range, but usually near the bottom of that range. On the morning of the third day, I was down 3 lbs from the bottom of the range. Next day, same thing. Today, another 2 for a total of 5. Pretty slick.

After the first two (maybe three) weeks, we'll switch to the more relaxed phase of the diet. Now, since my goal is only 10 or maybe 12 lbs... I expect I'll be there by the end of phase 1. But I'll keep trying to eat the new kinds of food most of the time -- and I will probably be able to go back to moderate beer/whiskey consumption.

So, here's my dieting tips.

Be an S.O.B. with yourself. Set up rules and follow them. Don't try to rationalize why it's ok this time to have this, or try to figure out how you can eat something more, too, or a boatload of something because its an allowed food. Don't try to bend the rules. The spirit of the diet won't drop fat off of you. The letter of it will.

My other one is, exercise with your diet. It'll work better. It's hard to snack when you're exercising, and your snack drive is much lower after exercise.

Depending on your willpower, pick a flexible diet. It's probably good to pick one with a meal plan if your willpower is low. That way it's easier to tell yourslef 'I am eating this, and that's it'. The more willpower you have, the less flexible diet needs to be, IMHO.

The reason we picked South Beach is -- it's a combination of a short, fairly inflexible (but still varied) diet with meal plans in the book -- followed by a more flexible, sustainable diet that's still low in calories, especially sugar and fat calories. That make sense to me.

5 comments:

  1. I hear that your Aunt is going to make homemade spaghetti sauce while you are in Florida - what is that going to do to your diet? Maybe you should tell her what you can eat :-) Otherwise, stick to it. Maybe you can just slip up while you are on your trip.

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  2. Well, I would tell my dear aunt that she shouldn't worry too much about it, and that we wouldn't miss the spaghetti sauce for the world.

    If she wishes to give us any accomodation, we'd just say - whole wheat spaghetti would be closer to the diet than regular - but we will eat whaterver she cooks. We will be buttheads with ourselves and go back on the diet when we leave.

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  3. I too need to be an SOB to myself! It was just the advice that I needed right now! Thanks Phil....you are, too, cool!
    Guess Who?

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