Wednesday, November 14, 2007

South Beach Thoughts

It’s been over 6 weeks since I’ve entered the South Beach lifestyle. I’m about 12 pounds lighter now and thought I’d present a few highs and lows from my journey thus far:

Biggest Surprise: It’s not so hard. I’ve been amazed at how easy it’s been to fix dinners and even find some meals available at restaurants. Just make sure you like salads and chicken.

Biggest Challenge: Exercising. I continue to have trouble finding time to exercise the last few pounds away. My belt tightens and my slacks are bigger, but I feel like if I exercised a little more (a LOT more) I’d actually go down a couple inches in the waist.

Biggest Frustration: Not knowing the effect on my blood until December 5th. I know the weight loss is helping my overall health, but as I’ve said before, it’s about my blood health. They don’t make a triglyceride scale to stand on…yet.

Best Diet Meal: I’ve learned to cook sirloin steak consistently well, along with grilled peppers and other vegetables. However, as god as the George Forman grill is, it dries out steak WAY too much. One must cook it up on a skillet if not grilled outside.

Worst Diet Meal: It’s a tie between two meals I’ve prepared. The pan-fried salmon was quite good, but the smoke created nearly brought in the fire department. That’s one dish best cooked on the outdoor grill. The one I didn’t like was the baked cod. I think cod is meant to be fried or grilled, not baked. Rubber bands tasted better.

Best Diet Dessert: My creation of Cocoa Ricotta Crème. Take ½ cup of part-skim ricotta cheese, one packet of sweetener (Splenda), ¼ teaspoon of extract (I use both vanilla and peppermint extracts and my wife likes coconut), and ½ teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa. Mix together, top it with Cool Whip Free…sprinkle a pinch of cocoa for good looks…and enjoy! However, make sure you use Polly-O brand ricotta. Others have a cottage cheese texture which takes away from the experience.

Worst Diet Dessert: Ricotta Crème without the flavoring. I only endured that once. Thank god for cocoa.

Best Cheat: I am an M&M freak. I love my M&M’s. Of course, any type of candy is basically banned within this diet, so this was a worry for me. I’ve found, however, that I can satisfy my cravings by simply having 2 to 4 individual M&M’s. Not four handfuls like I used to eat, but just four M&M’s. This handles my chocolate fix without gulping down a ton of carbs.

Biggest Grocery Frustration: In the interest of time, I usually cook (or rather, heat up) a Jimmy Dean omelet for breakfast rather than cook my own eggs. The two most available types are the Three Cheese and the Ham and Cheese. They also make a Western Omelet that quite delicious, but only Kroger carries it. For the last 3 weeks, they’ve been out of the Western Omelet. Dang it…why doesn’t anyone carry the best one?

Best Grocery Surprise: South Beach is EVERYWHERE. I have to question the 11 grams of carbs South Beach approved cookies, but they claim to be acceptable under Phase 2. Hopefully, the people at South Beach, Inc. haven’t merely sold out to Kraft to market their product and that these foods really are good for you. The fact is, no processed or frozen packaged food is as good as home cooking. But living in this hectic drive-thru microwave world, it’s a decent compromise to find an "acceptable" meal now and then.

Best Side Effect: There have been two side effects from this new lifestyle in addition to weight-loss and (hopefully) healthier blood: an appreciation of "better" food and a more healthy…um…morning bathroom session. Okay, so maybe this is TMI, but frankly, when I was on a higher carb and higher fat diet, my time on the "throne" was not the healthiest experience. Since increasing the fiber and cutting the fat, let’s just say that I leave with a healthier feeling.

Worst Side Effect: not so much from the diet, but from the medication. Luckily, I’m not experiencing the predicted hot flashes when I take my full-dosage of Niaspan. However, a more subtle side effect is itching. There are some mornings where I swear there’s a ton of ants crawling on me or biting me. It’s quite irritating, but luckily not an every day occurrence.

So, the journey continues. I’m hoping to be a few pounds lighter by my doc appointment on December 5, and also hope that my belt will tighten by one more hole. So far, it’s been an easier change than expected, although I do still miss the occasional donut and bag of M&M’s. Still…it’ll all be worth it.

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