Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Birthday Repercussions

Well, my birthday was this weekend and I splurged, as I had been planning to do. I had wine with dinner and cake afterwards, and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, it caused me to lose a little ground. I weighed in this morning at 391 lbs., which means I gained back 7 lbs. (some of that weight gain is due to menstrual issues.) So I've gone back on Phase 1 for the next week to undo the damage.

Thursday will be a month since I started, and I'll be getting measured again. I'll post my updated measurements then.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quick Update

I've lost 3 more pounds! I weighed in this morning at 384 lbs, for a total loss of 21 lbs. Not bad so far! My weight loss is starting to slow down, which is normal at this stage. Most people show significant weight loss over the first week or two of any diet, but then the weekly weight loss slows to an average of 2 lbs per week. This is normal and also very healthy -- if you lose weight too fast, you're more likely to: 1. lose muscle as well as or instead of fat; and 2. regain that weight much more easily if you go back to an unhealthy diet. So I'm not too worried about my weight loss slowing down. My focus right now will be on continuing to eat properly while doing whatever I can to keep my metabolism up, such as making sure I drink enough water and get enough exercise. I've got a good start under my belt, but there's still a long way to go.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Second Weigh-In and Starting Phase 2

Two weeks down, and I weighed in this morning at 387 lbs. That means I lost 5 lbs this past week and have lost a total of 18 lbs since starting the diet. I'm almost halfway to my first mini-goal of 40 lbs! Today is also the first day of Phase 2, which means I can start eating fruit, yogurt, and grain products again. Yay! I celebrated by stopping at the farm on the way home from Curves and buying myself a nice, juicy, sweet-tart Honey Crisp apple. And we're having raspberries for dessert. The trick with Phase 2 is to re-introduce fruits and grains a little at a time, and to only eat fruits that are lower in sugar and higher in fiber, and whole grains that are high in fiber and protein. I figure I'll start by adding in 2 servings of carbs a day, probably 1 serving of fruit as a snack and 1 serving of grains with dinner (I'm having 2 servings of fruit today because I didn't have any grain.) I can increase the amounts later if I want, as long as I continue to lose weight. If the weight loss stalls, then I'll know I have to cut back a little. I can also go back in Phase 1 from time to time if I need a weight-loss boost, such as when I hit a plateau (this always happens eventually) or if I plan a splurge, like on my birthday. That flexibility is one of the things I like about South Beach.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How to Eat Well While Dieting (Recipes Included)

My time on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is almost over. For those of you not familiar with South Beach, Phase 1 is the strictest phase of the diet: no fruit, no grain products of any kind (including rice, pasta, bread, cereals, or anything made with flour), no dairy products other than low-fat cheese (although I have been drinking a little milk every day, I can't live without milk), no real sugar or syrups of any kind, and no starchy or sugary vegetables such as corn, potatoes, or carrots. So, what is allowed on Phase 1? Low-fat proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of pork and beef, and eggs; low-fat cheeses; legumes (while legumes are high in total carbs, most of those carbs are dietary fiber, which makes the net carb load of legumes very low); most vegetables (other than the afore-mentioned starchy/sugary veggies); and healthy oils such as olive oil. Sounds a little boring, doesn't it? The trick is to be as creative as possible with the ingredients which you are allowed. Thankfully, herbs and spices are free and can be used whenever you want. So it's not really as bad as it sounds. I've been researching recipes and turning to other cultures for culinary inspiration (my World of the East Vegetarian Cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey has been a treasure trove!) and occasionally I've thrown something together that ended up being really tasty. Here are a few of the recipes I've come up with:

Seasoned Grilled Veggies

2 large or 3 small zucchini
2 large or 3 small summer squash
1 lb whole mushrooms (button or baby bella)
1 large sweet onion
olive oil
garlic powder
mixed Italian herb seasoning

Wash and cut up the zucchini and summer squash into 1-inch pieces. Clean the mushrooms and halve or quarter them, depending on size. Peel the onion and cut into chunks. Put the cut vegetables into a large plastic container. Add just enough olive oil to coat the veggies and season to taste with the garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Heat a grill wok over a gas or charcoal grill. Spray the wok with non-stick spray, add the veggies, and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender but not mushy. NOTE: if you do not have a grill wok or some other way of cooking cut veggies on the grill, you could saute the veggies on the stove or roast them in the oven under the broiler.

Chickpea and Artichoke Salad

1 large can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Cannelini beans could also be used)
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 red or orange sweet pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar (red or white)
mixed Italian herb seasoning
salt (optional)
honey (optional)

Combine chickpeas (or Cannelini beans) and veggies. Mix together the oil and vinegar and season to taste with the Italian seasoning and salt (I usually use about 1/2 tsp of the seasoning and a dash of salt); if the dressing is too sharp, add a little honey to mellow the flavor (no more than 1/4 tsp.) Pour the dressing over the beans and veggies and mix well (you may not need all the dressing -- store any unused dressing in a container in the fridge.) Salad may be eaten as is, but for a real taste treat, try this: Rinse and dry a large, crisp, Romaine leaf. Spread 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb cheese on the Romaine and top with 1/2 cup of the salad.

Quick Spinach Egg-Drop Soup

1 can light chicken or vegetable broth
1 generous handful of fresh spinach, washed & trimmed (chop it if you feel the need to do so)
1 or 2 eggs, beaten, or an equivalent amount of egg substitute

Combine the broth and spinach in a saucepan and cook until the broth is heated through. Just before serving, stir in the beaten egg and cook for approximately 30 seconds. NOTE: For a heartier version, break up 1 package of Ramen noodles and cook them in the broth with the spinach (throw away the seasoning packet from the noodles -- Ramen noodle seasonings are loaded with sodium!) Add the eggs once the noodles are done. This version is not South Beach friendly, but it's very nice when you have a cold.

Roasted Garlic Beans

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 can Great Northern beans (or any other small white beans), drained but not rinsed
1 cup light chicken or vegetable broth
1-2 tbsp roasted garlic puree
mixed Italian herb seasoning
salt (optional)
red pepper flakes (optional)

In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion until soft. Add the beans, broth, and roasted garlic puree. Allow the liquid to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced. Season to taste with the Italian herbs and salt; for a little kick, add red pepper flakes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Weigh-In (Drumroll Please!)

So, the first week of my diet is over. I weighed in this morning at 392 lbs, a loss of 13 lbs! Yay! What a great start! I know that my weekly weight loss will start to slow down now and I still have a long way to go, but it's very heartening to see that I am making progress in the right direction.

I feel like I've eaten very well this first week and I haven't really felt deprived at all. That's one of the reasons I like the South Beach diet -- even though the list of "allowed" foods is relatively small (especially on Phase 1), you can pretty much eat your fill of them, especially vegetables and legumes. I've been trying to find new and interesting ways to prepare these foods, whether it's seasoning summer squash with garlic and grilling it, or sauteing eggplant and onions in curry powder, or cooking lentils and spinach together with cumin. I even made a salad of chickpeas, artichoke hearts, red pepper, and green onions which I ate in lettuce leaves with some garlic & herb soft cheese. Yum! I really love food (how else could I have reached 405 lbs?) and being able to eat well while dieting will definitely help me stick with it longer and NOT CHEAT (cheating is one of the two main things that has sidetracked all my previous diets; lack of willpower was the other. Wait, aren't they pretty much the same thing?) Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that I will be a saint. Nobody could deny themselves indefinitely. I will splurge from time to time, but this time when I splurge I will plan my splurges and then get right back on the eating plan. For example, my birthday is coming up at the end of the month, and I am going to have cake on my birthday. I will eat right for the rest of the day, I will have my cake, I will send any leftover cake home with my sister and brother-in-law so it won't be in the house (very important detail), and the next day I will go back on Phase 1 for a week to counteract any damage. See? I can totally do this. ;-)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

TMI Alert: This post is about bodily functions. Those who are squeamish may wish to skip it.

As most of you probably know, one of the basics tenets of any weight-loss program is to drink lots of water. The general rule for good health is to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day. That works out to between 48 and 64 ounces. That's just for a normal, healthy person to stay properly hydrated. For weight loss purposes, you need to increase your water intake. I've seen different recommendations in different books, including one book which said that you should drink as many ounces of water each day as half your weight in pounds. So let's see, I currently weigh 405 lbs, so I should be drinking 202.5 ounces of water daily? I don't think so. Over the past couple of days I've averaged 140 ounces a day, which means I'm peeing at least once an hour, if not more often (this morning I peed five times in the first four hours I was awake.) It also means that I can't sleep through the night as I'm getting up to pee every two to three hours. The fact that my blood pressure medication contains a diuretic doesn't help matters any. If I'm peeing this much on 140 ounces a day, I can only imagine what would happen if I was drinking 200 ounces -- I'd probably never get out of the bathroom! Well, that's all for now -- I have to go pee again!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

We Have Liftoff!

So today I started my diet and exercise program. I suppose it would be more correct to say that I restarted, as I've been on diets and exercise programs before, I just never stuck with either long enough to make much of a difference. This time, however, I am determined to succeed. Here's what you need to know as I start my journey:

Where I Am Now

To the left you see my lovely "before" picture. (To those of you who think I should be smiling: I smiled in the picture that was taken before this one. It looked really goofy.) Here are my current stats:

Weight: 405 lbs; Bust: 60.5 inches; Waist: 60.5 inches; Abdomen: 64.5 inches; Hips: 64.5 inches; Thigh: 32.5 inches; Upper Arm: 18 inches; Body Mass Index (BMI): 61.6.

Weight will be updated every Tuesday, body measurements and BMI will be updated on a monthly basis.

Where I Want To Be

According to those charts that tell you what your ideal weight should be based on your height and gender, my ideal weight is 130 lbs. Highly unlikely. I think the last time I weighed 130 was when I was in 6th grade. So I'm setting my ultimate goal weight at 160 lbs, which is definitely doable. So that means I have to lose 245 lbs all told. However, I'm going to set mini-goals for myself (after all, 245 lbs is a very big number) of 40 lbs at a time -- 10% of my current weight.

How I'm Going To Get There

I am following the South Beach Diet eating plan and will be adding some of the nutritional and lifestyle concepts of the Fiber35 Diet (supplements, metabolism boosts, detoxing.) I am also following the Curves Smart fitness plan. This week I am also doing an herbal cleansing detox to give me a bit of a boost.

Why I Am Doing This

This section is as much for myself as for everyone else: at some point in every diet, there comes a time when I'll get frustrated and will need a reminder of why I'm working so hard at losing weight when it's so much easier, and usually more pleasurable, to dive face-first into a chocolate cake. At that point, I can come back here and read this list.

I am trying to lose weight because:

  • I want to get healthy
  • I want to travel more, but it's difficult to fit in an airplane at this size; also, when I do travel, I want to be able to walk around and explore the sights
  • I want to be able to go to the movies, a show, or a concert without worrying whether I'll fit in the theater seat
  • clothes shopping will be much easier when I'm a smaller size
  • if I don't do it now, it will just keep getting harder to do

So I guess that's it for now. Check back for regular updates, and keep me in your thoughts!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Diet Starts Tomorrow

So I'm starting on the South Beach Diet tomorrow. I did South Becah once before and it worked pretty well; this time I intend to stick with it until I've actually reached my goal. I'm also adding in some of the ideas from the Fiber35 Diet and I'll be going to Curves regularly. I'll post updates here on this blog. Wish me luck!