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hot for the bod
conquering the south beach diet
by heather m. millen
5.25.05
humor


Let me start off by saying that I do NOT diet. Occasionally, I watch what I eat and what I see myself eating the most is buffalo chicken and pepperoni pizza. So far in life, this diet, alongside a regular consumption of alcoholic products ranging from Sierra Nevada (light beer? yuck!) to apple martinis, has fared just fine.

But I've started noticing things. Things that weren't there before, things that snuck up in the night! Granted, I recently moved and, on top of the stress of that, stopped having a regular gym. To make matters worse, I moved in with a guy who of course feels no need to ever make light of dinnertime. On most days, I've received an email from said guy by 11 am asking what's for dinner. When I lived alone, I often skipped dinner in what my friend Jen liked to refer to as the "Wine Diet." Which, if you want to go that route, is not completely restricted to wine. Some evenings, feel free to partake in a dinner of three olives immersed in a vodka martini.

Those days are gone and swimsuit season is upon us. Actually, swimsuit season is nowhere in sight in the arctic abyss in which I now reside (better known as New England.) However, should it ever stop raining and should the temperature ever rise above sixty-freakin-degrees, I must be prepared.

I've never been overweight by any means and I've even spent a fair number of hours laughing disapprovingly at friends that go Atkins crazy or try the grapefruit diet or seem to exist on a meal plan that relies exclusively on lettuce. Let it also be known that I hate lettuce. Even on nice meaty, cheesy burgers, I forego the lettuce. Rabbit food. No use for it. Occasionally, I enjoy a nice Caesar Salad because romaine isn't all that bad and I do like cheese.

Mmmm... cheese.

My other real love is bread. I often eat slices of bread, non-fancy king cut grocery store variety, right out of the bag. And when out at restaurants, I could easily eat JUST the bread and skip the meal. So, when everyone got all low-carb crazy, I felt the entire world had gone batshit insane.

But spring is here and I'm desperate for the first time ever. Because I'm weighing in about 15 pounds heavier than my record college weight and I'm too damn hot to wear baggy sweaters! Funny how, at the time, I always felt I could drop a couple pounds and now I look fondly at those pictures and think, "Wow... that is one sexy motherfucker!"

The popular South Beach Diet started sounding pretty damn good. I spoke to some friends who had done it, spent 19 hours online researching it and borrowed the book to get things going. The South Beach Diet consists of three phases. Phase 1 where you want to shoot someone, Phase 2 where you want to shoot yourself and Phase 3 where you've lost all the energy and will of life to bother.

Phase 1 is the most intense, where you're supposedly retraining your body's dependence on insulin, which is all sugar -- including fruit. South Beach is not no-carb, but it is low-carb. So while you can eat your body weight in cheese, don't expect to put that on a cracker. Peanut butter is also a good snack according to big daddy SB, but again, what do you put it on? They suggest celery... the only thing I hate more than lettuce. I find the smell repulsive and was once forced to throw out several cocktail glasses after hosting a bloody mary party where the celery DEFILED the glassware.

But overall, I thought that even I could handle two weeks. Bring it on! Especially since the diet claimed you would lose an average of 8-13 pounds in that time. To which, of course, I cried "Bullshit!" but what the hey, it's not like I have anything else to do up here like SUNBATHE.

The South Beach includes a whole lotta eggs and snacks that are insisted upon. An example of a day on the South Beach: Breakfast-- 2 eggs and bacon, coffee. And pickles, but that's a personal preference that most people find unsettling. Midmorning snack-- stick of lowfat string cheese. Lunch-- Caesar salad (no croutons). Afternoon snack-- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Dinner-- Salad with sugarless dressing, baked salmon and steamed veggies. Dessert-- sugarfree Jello. Though the book suggested making ricotta cheese into a variety of "desserts," I wasn't buying it.

The book itself is very informative in that it explains how exactly one loses weight on the South Beach Diet. That alone makes you feel like it's more reliable than some weight-loss plans, like those that suggest drinking green tea for three weeks straight and standing on one foot for 17 minutes each day. The book also includes a lot of recipes which I found completely and utterly useless. Mainly because, FINE, I'll drag myself out of bed ten minutes early to scramble up some eggs but I am NOT mixing together 19 ingredients to make a salmon frittata on a Tuesday morning. In fact, I'm never cooking anything that takes more than five ingredients, so there.

Hands down however, the most intriguing recipe in its arsenal is the South Beach Diet's answer to those who so desperately miss their daily dose of potatoes: The South Beach "Potato" Surprise.

4 cups cauliflower florets
1 oz. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray
1 oz. Land O'Lakes Gourmet fat-free half & half

Steam or microwave the cauliflower until soft.
Puree in a food processor, adding the butter spray and the half & half to taste.
Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

SURPRISE, it's disgusting!

But I persevered if only to relay to you all the outcome of my suffering. And? I lost 6 pounds in those two weeks, which I found very surprising. I now have an unfortunate gag reflex to salad. But I did cheat. Not really with the food, but moreso with the "No alcohol" policy. I'm not a masochist. And red wine is allowed in the second phase, so I figured what the hell. The latter phases of the South Beach diet are really just an emphasis on healthier eating. And truly, that's what I feel I need most. And I did gain that from this experiment in self-restraint. Plus, it's kicked my ass back into the gym which can be nothing but good!

So, I will continue to curb my french fried enthusiasm and maybe drink less beer. Because really, moderation is the key to any diet.

I'd like to also take a moment to thank my inspiration, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie for their lovely display that any weight-loss effort can go horribly awry and boobs are a good thing to have. Pizza anyone?


ABOUT HEATHER M. MILLEN

Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen

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COMMENTS

stacy smith
5.25.05 @ 5:53a

South Beach Diet...Yuck! Atkins is even worse.

I'm a Michael Thurmond fan. His plan is simple. Cut out all the junk out of your diet, exercise daily (this does not mean spin your wheels at the gym for hours on end) and the weight will come off.

After 6 weeks I lost 30 pounds and well over 30 inches of flab from my neck to my calves. Exercise? Walk 4 miles a day, 6 days a week with some resistance training twice a week.

I laugh at people that are scared of potatoes. Taters are good for ya. It's the pounds of sour cream, butter, bacon bits and all that other stuff that people should fear.

Then there is all salt that is hidden in everything, but yet diets like Jenny Craig and Nutri System make tons of money on their prepackaged "food" that is loaded with it. People that actually buy that crap cannot understand why they stall or cannot lose more than a pound a week. If I chewed on a salt shaker a couple times a day, I wouldn't lose anything either. Salt is useful, but nobody needs that much of it regardless of what they think.

With the so called "health craze" in this country it still amazes me that people cannot grasp the simple concept that muscle burns fat. If a person has little or no muscle tone, they need to get some. Oh and this only eating once a day needs to stop as well. Taking pills or filling up on juice isn't going to boost a metabolism. One needs to fuel the muscle fire with food, then get off their butts and do something with it.

Simple, but yet people make it out to be really complicated. *shrugs*

[edited]

sandra thompson
5.25.05 @ 8:30a

Labour saving devices were invented in order to prevent us from dying of exercise (e.g. work). That's my story and I.S.T.I.

Other axioms:

Iceberg lettuce is a disgrace to civilization.

If my aunts can live to their mid-nineties on a diet of milk, eggs, cheese, butter, cream, all kinds of meat including red, potatoes, salt pork, collard greens, peas, carrots, rutabagas, okra and cornbread all that stuff can't be really BAD for ya. (If you haven't been enculturated to enjoy collards and okra you can subsitute spinach.)

If whatever divinity you believe in had wanted us to be thin, why would she have given us cows and sugar cane?

Olives are good for you.

jeremy sievers
5.25.05 @ 9:07a

Just start racing road bikes. Best diet ever. Ride for 5 hours, burn 4000 calories...then eat what ever and how ever you want. Figure you need 1800-2000 cal just existing, add the ride, there is no way you can eat 6000 cal. Then figure in the fact you could be so sick from 5 hours of sun and dehydration you might not be able to eat anything anyway.

Only down side is most people think I am crazy.

jeff miller
5.25.05 @ 9:15a

Almost 2 years ago, I lost 20 lbs doing Weight Watchers. Then I levelled off. I started working out regularly, and stayed right where I was, which was at least 30 lbs over my goal weight. Then I tried South Beach and lost another 20 lbs in four months.

40 lbs later, I'm convinced that there's something to both approaches. And I feel a WHOLE lot better about myself.

I'm still more or less sticking to South Beach, which in Phase 3 is really pretty normal. I often recommend the diet to freinds who are looking to drop some weight.

For what it's worth, hot chicks have no business worrying about such things.
Just be healthy and hot, and enjoy a burger when you can.

tracey kelley
5.25.05 @ 9:28a

I can testify that Jeremy's "diet" seems to be working well for him. Especially since if he stands behind me, he disappears.

Jeff! Fabulous control, buddy! Congrats! You too, Stacy!

Now that my feet have healed and my knee is on the mend and my allergies are controlled by medication, I'm back in the saddle, so to speak. My health has totally sucked for the past two years, but things are on the upswing.

I took a chance and got the book Body for Life for Women, and have been pleased with the author's no nonsense approach to helping women understand the "phases" their bodies go through, how to accommodate those phases, the strong emphasis on exercise, and the way certain foods aid your progress. She doesn't use the word "diet" but focuses strongly on the strength - literally and figuratively - gained from exercise. She calls it the "mind-mouth-muscle" approach.

Which, frankly, I think the mind has a lot to do with it. You know damned good and well you should exercise and eat better - but to actually DO it....

[edited]

stacy smith
5.25.05 @ 10:36a

Just start racing road bikes. Best diet ever. Ride for 5 hours, burn 4000 calories...then eat what ever and how ever you want. Figure you need 1800-2000 cal just existing, add the ride, there is no way you can eat 6000 cal. Then figure in the fact you could be so sick from 5 hours of sun and dehydration you might not be able to eat anything anyway.

Only down side is most people think I am crazy.


I don't think you are crazy, although getting that dehydrated isn't a good thing.

In your case, yes the more food the better. The "average" person isn't going to go out of their way to burn off 4,000 plus calories a day. Just getting off the couch to walk the beloved Pooch in the household can cause an uproar.

Even though I work out 6 days a week, I still cannot eat what I want.

I love a good steak, but previous experience taught me that my body uses it in a way that I don't want it to. It causes too much muscle growth so I end up buying bigger sized clothing anyway just to accomodate my build even though I'm at a healthy weight and carrying around a normal amount of body fat.

On the other end, if I ever want to stall any further weight loss, all I have to do is eat bananas and rice for a couple of days.

Yet another problem with these "One Size Fits All" diets. Unless a person knows how their body reacts to different kinds of foods, the diet can have the opposite effect of what was expected.

And of course, guys have the better advantage in losing weight because they are often bigger and more muscular. We gals need to work harder at it, or most of us do anyway.

Tracey- Be well. It's my allergies that got me into trouble with weight gain. I put an end to the allergy shots and steriods that were keeping me alive at times and haven't had any serious issues since.

Seeing how I'm pretty much allergic to everything under the sun, I still have random outbreaks of hives and boxes of Kleenex all over the house.

Getting rid of the excess weight and eating better has helped alot more than what my doctors were trying to accomplish. I have meds for when I have those days where I think of creative ways to rip my sinuses from my head, but other than that, it's safe to say that I'm almost 100% better than what I was 5 months ago.





[edited]

lisa r
5.25.05 @ 8:24p

I'm a nutritionist by training. Fad diets are bad ideas. Any time a diet tells you to cut out most if not all of a major food group, please--run screaming in the opposite direction as far and fast as you can.

Weight loss is a nasty little phrase. People are so obsessed with losing weight at times that they lose sight of the type of weight that needs to be lost. FAT needs to be lost. MUSCLE does not. In fact, resistance training is an excellent way to lose weight, because it builds muscle. Increasing muscle mass increases your metabolism, which helps you lose fat.

Unfortunately, too many people gauge their success rate by the numbers on their bathroom scale. Muscle is more dense than fat. If someone is building muscle and burning fat, it may seem as if they are not making progress if their sole criterion is is loss of pounds. I go by how baggy my clothes are getting. I think my scale claims I've lost all of three pounds--but my sweaters and pants are ridiculously loose. Now if I can just get back to the gym. Between a week of road trips for work and a week of being sick followed by the cough that just won't quit, I can't go back yet. Sigh...

tracey kelley
5.27.05 @ 11:32a

Po' po' Lisa. Get better soon, dearie.

heather millen
5.27.05 @ 12:46p

I agree with much of what is said here. I don't want to simply lose the weight that I've gained. What set this all in motion was that I began to notice that areas that used to be tone, no longer are. Thus, I've also amped up the gym again.

People, in general, are often blamed for wanting the quick fix. I don't think a pill is going to give me the body I want. And I don't think that a diet without exercise is the answer... South Beach actually claims that it's not necessary. I think that's ludacrist!

mike julianelle
5.27.05 @ 12:59p

I think Heather just coined a FANTASTIC new word! LudaChrist! It's what athiests think of the Bible!

[edited]

stacy smith
5.27.05 @ 1:48p

LudaChrist or not, for people to make such a suggestion is really stupid. Especially for those that may have alot of weight to lose.

Once the weight loss process begins, all the excess or stretched out skin doesn't have any support so it sags leaving the person to be "skinny-fat" as I call it.

Sure according to the scale they may get to their ideal weight, but they don't look it because of all the flabby skin.

Kinda like that mushy part of the upper arm (tricep) that wiggles when one waves good-bye. The hand stops, but that thing continues to sway from one side to another.

The only way to get rid of it is to work the triceps to failure and do so often.

[edited]

lisa r
5.30.05 @ 2:03a

Po' po' Lisa. Get better soon, dearie.

I started back to the gym Saturday. And am glad to be back exercising--something I never ever thought I'd say.

The creators of the South Beach diet (and other fad diets and diet supplements) tell people what they want to hear. Everyone wants to think that someone finally came up with a way to lose weight while eating all the wrong foods and sitting on their butts. Ain't happening, people. Trust me. Just like deep tissue massage is not going to make cellulite disappear.


heather millen
5.31.05 @ 10:03a

Once the weight loss process begins, all the excess or stretched out skin doesn't have any support so it sags leaving the person to be "skinny-fat" as I call it.

Oh, I hate that. I was watching "Dr. 90210" the other day and a woman had gotten gastric bypass surgery, so she was tiny but had an unbelievable amount of skin leftover. Naturally, she got a tummy-tuck for that. I couldn't think of a less productive way to achieve something you really want.

jael mchenry
5.31.05 @ 11:55a

The creators of the South Beach diet (and other fad diets and diet supplements) tell people what they want to hear. Everyone wants to think that someone finally came up with a way to lose weight while eating all the wrong foods and sitting on their butts.

In a lot of cases I think you're right, but South Beach isn't nearly as ridiculous as most of the others. The foods they suggest are healthy -- low-fat, nutritious, etc. Brown rice instead of white, eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel. Totally reasonable.

david damsker
6.1.05 @ 9:09a

I consider the SBD a gimmick diet because it gets you hooked by the promise of quick weight loss. This is why most diets sell well, at least at the beginning, until people get lazy and start eating lots of carbs AND fat.

I do agree that, done properly, SBD is certainly a healthier diet than Atkins over time.

heather millen
8.1.05 @ 10:09a

Diet trends come and diet trends go... Atkins files bankruptcy.

On a personal note, I've stayed with some of the ideals of the South Beach (you CANNOT eat bread by the loaf), but much less stringently. I eat a lot more fruit and some yogurt. I've kicked up the gym... all in all, lost another 7 pounds after the initial two weeks.

[edited]

david damsker
8.1.05 @ 11:08a

Yeah, saw that. American's are too lazy even to just eat just bacon and cheese.

tracey kelley
8.1.05 @ 3:00p

Good for you, Heather!

So, all 'n all, did you feel it was difficult?



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