My South Beach Journey

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

South Beach is not a Fad

It just hit me. I'm literally half my size. When I first started South Beach in January 2007, I was 234.5 pounds and wore size 24/26 pants. I'm now 168.5 pounds and wear size 10/12. That's amazing to me.

Earlier today, I was perusing thatsfit.com and stumbled across an article about the 25 Worst Fad Diets Ever. (you can read it here) Guess what diet was listed at #8? The South Beach Diet. I saw that and I saw red. So I clicked on the link to read the full-length article which sited sources as to why that particular diet was listed. A lot of them are no-brainers ~ I mean, what exactly is the tapeworm diet, anyway? It certainly doesn't sound like anything I would ever want to try. And I'm totally against any diet that advises you to drink your meals instead of learning healthy eating habits. But, my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to find out why the South Beach Diet was lumped in with the rest of the "fad" diets. So, I clicked on the dreaded link and was routed to Dr. Jay Fuhrman's site who (big surprise) is marketing his own diet plan ~ the Eat to Live program.

Now, I don't know anything about Dr. Fuhrman's plan. Nor do I want to. For the simple reason that he markets his plan at the expense of others. Without properly researching the very subject he's opposing. His arguments about the South Beach Diet just aren't true. A few examples:

One of the most dangerous diets ever designed. Two words: My ass.

You are told to move from a carbohydrate-restricted, high-protein phase back to a less restricted phase, but when you start to regain your weight (as you will inevitably do), you are instructed to go back to the more restricted phase again. Actually, you are told not to do this. As far as regaining weight, as with any eating plan if you don't stick to your healthy habits, you do run the risk of gaining it back. The key word here is "diet" which is temporary.

Many are aware that ketogenic diets are dangerous if maintained long-term, but if done for a short-time on and off, as recommended in the South Beach plan, you lose weight, regain it, lose weight and regain it (i.e. yo-yo your weight), which is even more dangerous to your heart and your health. Well, South Beach isn't a ketogenic diet. South Beach is a good carb, good fat diet which I'm sure any registered dietician worth their salt would agree with. As far as good carbs, well, there are all kinds and I eat them all. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, etc. There is nothing ketogenic about it. Good fats ~ how about olive oil?

After I read what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about South Beach, I went on to read more about what he had to say about Weight Watchers. Now, I used to do Weight Watchers ~ about 4 or 5 years ago, and I did pretty well on it. I lost 40 pounds, but then I stalled. And stalled. And stalled. And I take responsibility for it. It wasn't the eating plan, it was me. I totally know that. But I did end up gaining the weight back and then when I finally had reached the highest weight I'd ever been in my life, that's when I decided to rededicate myself to healthy eating. And I chose South Beach. Not because there's anything wrong with Weight Watchers at all. Just for me and my level of personal responsibility, the South Beach plan works better for where I'm at. (Although, there are times I really miss my Luna Bar and Yoplait yogurt breakfasts).

Getting back to the post on Weight Watchers. I'm going to list my thoughts on a few of Dr. Fuhrman's points.

Involves calorie counting and portion control. Most people do not keep the weight off permanently with this type of diet. It's been awhile since I did WW, but I don't remember counting calories. I remember calculating for points ~ which made sense. If I remember correctly, it had something to do with the number of calories and the number of fiber equalled the point value. And since when is portion control a bad thing? A lot of us are in the boat of having to lose weight because we didn't know about portion control. Or emotional eating. How many of use were told when we were children "You can't leave the table until you've cleaned your plate."? Or how many of us are prone to bulging when stressed/depressed/anxious, etc., etc. And don't get me started on the "most people" crap. I've already talked about this in my points above.

Reduces both calorie and nutrient levels simultaneously, reduces disease resistance, making you more likely to get the chronic diseases that afflict Americans today like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer (all which result in a premature death). Interesting. So relearning bad eating habits and substituting healthier alternatives to the more fat-ladden snacks we've grabbed in the past can lead to premature death? I think my personal physician may have something contrary to say about that.

I'm not even going to bother posting the points that Dr. Fuhrman wants to make about his plan. Because, while I read it, I could have been reading about South Beach, or Weight Watchers, or any other number of plans out there. I guess what I'm trying to say in my rather rambling and convuluted way is that we're all in this together. Whether it be South Beach or Weight Watchers or any other plan, I along with countless others are on a journey of self-discovery, of becoming healthy, of becoming fit, of wanting to live longer, of wanting to fit into the skinny jeans, of wanting to just feel better, of wanting to look in the mirror and liking what looks back. It's a common goal, whatever the journey.

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