South Beach Diet


(Written after lunch)

As predicted, my day is turning into a dieting worst-case scenario. Sometimes it’s impossible to plan for every alternative.

Plan A: Find out the catered meal in advance and plan what foods I’m going to eat.

First, there was no catered meal. Then there was, but too late for me to find out what it would be.

Plan B: Go get my own salad.

Conversations with coworkers were continuing during the lunch period, and I didn’t have time before my next meeting to go get the salad.

Plan C: Take whatever South Beach Diet-friendly foods I can find from the catered meal.

The catered meal is pizza and salad. No protein.

My goal was to do the best I could with what’s available, and I felt good and in control. The pizza was good quality. I got a slice of the veggie and ate the toppings off it. I took some salad and added Greek yogurt and walnuts from my snack stash. I stopped with a little salad left on my plate because I knew I was getting full. I thought about taking the toppings off another slice of pizza, but I knew it was just a desire and not hunger, so I didn’t do it. The idea of continuing to eat faded quickly from my mind.

I’m still on my diet, and I don’t feel in any danger. But it would still be safer for me to have a written plan. And the only way to really stick to that kind of plan to the letter would be to bring my own food with me everywhere. That’s definitely an alternative, at least most of the time. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to be able to improvise.

(Written Before Dinner)

Time to strategize. I’m tired. Tonight’s restaurant with my coworkers is Italian, of all things. It would be so easy for me to order “whatever.” I would rather go home than face this. I won’t eat at home. I will feel socially shy and will want to eat and drink to blunt those feelings. That’s my previous way of handling situations like this…eat my way through them. I want to do it differently this time. It’s going to be tough.

I will:

• Read my Advantages

• Know that I am not the only person there watching what I eat. At least 2 of the other people there also work out frequently and are very careful about what they eat.

• Think of how disgusting I’ll feel tomorrow morning if I overeat tonight.

• Remember how hard I’ve been working in the gym and how I don’t want to undo all my hard work.

• Have a protein snack before we go.

(After Dinner)

Things went pretty darn well, considering we went to a fancy Italian restaurant and my fatigue was weakening my resolve. I planned to allow a light starter, since I needed to take the edge off my appetite, and I had eaten lighter than usual at breakfast and lunch. In the car on the way to the restaurant, I told my coworkers I was trying to avoid wheat, which both made me accountable and engendered my coworkers support of my not eating bread or pasta.

My light starter was sliced fresh mozzarella and tomato slices (perfect on South Beach!), which I shared with someone. Another coworker offered me a slice of grilled eggplant stuffed with ricotta and other cheeses…something I could not resist! I love eggplant. That was my big indulgence for the night.

I had planned to order swordfish and veggies for dinner, but after the rich eggplant roll, I was too full for an entree. I ordered a side salad with grilled shrimp on it as my main course. I ate half of it and took 1/2 the shrimp in a doggie bag to throw on today’s salad. (But when I got home at 11 PM I decided the shrimp had been at room temp too long and tossed them.)

The restaurant served gorgeous looking Italian bread with flavored butter and olive oil. I asked for the basket to be moved away from me. My coworkers ate slice after slice, but as long as it wasn’t near me, I wasn’t tempted. Then they asked for a 2nd basket, which did end up being near me, but by that time  was full. Some of us ordered dessert…I just tried one bite of some ice cream on someone’s plate that looked interesting. It turned out to be hazelnut! I also sipped on 3 small pours of red wine. I started out refusing, but succumbed to peer pressure to taste it. But I didn’t get drunk.

All in all, I’m happy with how I did. I spent my calories on things I really wanted to spend it on. I resisted all kinds of temptations, like fried ravioli and fried squid that were being passed around.

Still, I’ll feel much safer having a written plan for the foreseeable future.

For the next 2 days, I will be in an unenviable situation for a dieter. Hours of boring meetings during the day, and catching up on my real work at night. However, I’m lucky in one respect: My new boss, instead of planning the customary catered lunch, has given us the noonish hours as personal catch-up time. I will be able to get my predictable, SBD-friendly salads at the local café.

Therefore, I will be able to plan my meals except for dinner tomorrow night, which will be a group dinner at a restaurant, and I don’t even know what the restaurant is. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t even been decided yet.

Now is when Dr. Beck’s “write it down and eat what you wrote” system isn’t helpful. Being able to make the best possible decisions under the circumstances, in the moment, is a helpful dieting skill, although Dr. Beck’s books don’t spend much time on it. I will be presented with an unpredictable menu. I need to be able to, and I will, choose a grilled chicken sandwich without the bun over lasagna. Writing down the ideal dinner of steamed fish and vegetables tonight will do me no good if I have no idea whether that choice is going to be available. I need to be able to, and I will, choose a few ounces of protein and a lot of veggies and a bit of good fat from whatever choices I’m faced with.

I can predict my breakfast, which I will eat at home before my commute, and my lunch, and my snacks, which I’ve already packed up in advance. But I can’t predict my dinner, and I plan to do the best I can in the moment.

Doing a perfect “write it down and eat what you wrote” eating diary is an exercise I will do someday, but it won’t serve me well this week. My ultimate goal is to do what’s best for me. And I will do what will best lead to my ultimate health and weight loss in my body, not on paper.

What’s important is for me NOT to get discouraged about not being able to get exactly what I planned and then indulging in wrong eating because of the “failure.”

I also won’t do any BDS tasks for the next 2 days. I’ll resume that on Thursday.

I will continue to write down everything I eat. It’s just that, in some cases, I’ll write it after I eat it rather than before.

Today’s workout: 20 minutes on ET, Level 1. (Took it easy as my back, which I sprained last year, is acting up.) 40 minutes weights, abs, and focus on back stretching with trainer.

Today’s walk: To and from an appointment, 15 mins total.

I’ve been planning my meals and keeping my eating diary as described in the Day 15 post, but did not do any BDS tasks. I’ve been slacking off on the program in general, slipping away from reading my Advantages or other Response Cards. I have mentally been answering back some sabotaging thoughts, but obviously some crept in that prevented me from posting yesterday. “Only eating while eating” has also fallen by the wayside.

This is the point where I got complacent last year and, as a result, stopped making progress. I’ve been in the same rut for over 2 years where I stay on SBD most of the time but not always, using some of my BDS skills but not others. Exercising when I “have to” see my trainer, but hardly ever in-between. These are the behaviors that stopped me from continuing to gain weight, but are not enough for me to lose it.

The sabotaging thoughts that caused this are insidious because they seem so benign. Some of them even contain a grain of truth, but in order to go all the way and transform my body into a slim, healthy one, I must change my way of thinking.

Day 16 coming tomorrow.

Sabotaging thoughts:

• I don’t have time to read my Advantages list right now. I’ll do it later.

• I eat what I’m supposed to most of the time. It’s OK if I treat myself to Thai food or wine once in a while.  [Note: which means I treat myself once a day!]

I work out with my trainer twice a week. That’s enough exercise. If I get too busy and don’t do anything else in-between, I’m still golden.

• I feel great, so much taller and stronger than before I started exercising. So what if I don’t lose any weight?

• It’s OK if I skip a day on my blog. Other BDS bloggers have taken more than 42 days to complete the program. My readers will forgive me.

• I’ve already learned the skills I need from the BDS book. The rest don’t apply to me.

• Wine isn’t fattening. It even has health benefits. For 100 calories, I can get more pleasure from a glass of wine than 100 calories worth of food. [Note: Yeah, so I drink multiple glasses of wine a night.]

• This meal is perfectly on my plan. It’s OK if I eat it in front of the computer.

OY! Do you see what I’m dealing with? Sneaky, insidious sabotaging thoughts. Somewhere inside me, I believe these things to be true, and I need to change these thoughts and banish these beliefs.

I don’t have responses to these thoughts yet, but I’ll work on it.

Today’s To-D0 List:

✓ I did planned exercise

✓ I did spontaneous exercise

✓ I monitored my eating in writing

✓ I wrote down tomorrow’s meal plan

✗ I did other BDS checklist items ☹

Today I give myself credit for:

☆ Coming right back to my blog after missing a day.

☆ Doing spontaneous exercise despite a wonky schedule.

☆ Doing planned exercise despite my fear of worsening my back injury. [Note: I know from experience that sitting around and doing nothing is worse for my back. I hope I succeeded in exercising in such a way that I helped rather than hurt my back. If any of you reading this is injured, please be very careful when exercising.]

☆ Doing my credit list even though the “old me” would be beating myself up right now.

☆ Talking to my therapist about my experiences with cravings this weekend and another difficult situation in my life. [Note: As one of my diet coaches, my therapist knows about this blog, and I’m willing to share it with her. She just doesn’t get on the Web very much.]

☆ Identifying some of my most insidious sabotaging thoughts.

Today’s workout: None. Just don’t have it in me with my cold. But I’m seeing my trainer tomorrow, and she accepts only 2 excuses: global thermonuclear war and death. So I’ll definitely be working out tomorrow; I’ll only miss one day. I’m allowed to miss one day in a row, but not 2.

Today’s walk: None. It’s just too chilly. I went out at the peak “high” of 30F (-1C) and tried, but my lungs started to seize immediately.

Today’s task: Pick Two Reasonable Diets

Why two? You’ve got your main diet, and your backup diet. If the first diet turns out to be too difficult or troublesome, you’re ready to jump right into Plan B. (I get the feeling Dr. Beck was a Girl Scout at one point, and really took the “Be Prepared” motto to heart.)

Dr. Beck also has a lot to say about using a reasonable diet. Reasonable means healthy, easy to prepare, and sustainable in the long term. That means you have to make sure you get to eat your favorite foods once in a while. The last thing you want to do is try to speed your progress by dropping calories too low and then end up bingeing and gaining all the weight back. In fact, in her 2nd book, where she actually gives you a calorie-counting diet, she recommends 1,600 calories as a minimum, even for women. (By contrast, Weight Watchers starts at about 1,100.)

I chose the South Beach Diet because I don’t have to count calories or points. Counting makes me obsessed. Also, the quality of what I eat suffers along with my mental health. When points are everything, those 2-point desserts are just too seductive. On South Beach, I’m eating quality food at every meal and I don’t crave desserts as much.

Still, I have to have a backup plan. If I start to stall out on all the protein, I’m going to switch to what I call the Kashi diet. Kashi or other super-healthy cereal with skim milk and fruit for breakfast and lunch; something light for dinner like bean soup and salad; fruit, yogurt, or Kashi TLC bars for snacks. Kashi used to have something like this on their website, but it looks like they’re no longer promoting it.

I chose this for a backup plan because it’s nutritionally different from SBD, so I can go to it when my body and mind need a change. It’s also simpler, with a much smaller range of food choices.

Today’s lesson also introduces a BDS tool called Response Cards. We all have sabotaging thoughts—thoughts that trigger poor eating choices or lead us to abandon our diets. In CBT, you learn to catch yourself thinking these thoughts and answer them back. Writing the more-helpful responses on cards helps you rehearse them and have them ready when you need them.

Here’s one of my sabotaging thoughts: “I don’t want to be on a diet for the rest of my life. It makes me feel trapped, and all I want to do is eat. I want to be free!”

And here’s the response I came up with: “SBD isn’t a diet, it’s a healthy lifestyle. If I don’t start eating and living healthier, the fat will trap me even worse. The true freedom comes from being healthy, energetic, and strong, and that’s what SBD will give me.”

Here’s another one (said to myself as I prepared 3.5 oz. turkey sausage and 2 cups of broccoli and cauliflower for lunch): “This sucks! I really don’t know much longer I’m going to be able to eat this way. This food is depressing.”

And the response: “‘This sucks’ is a thought, not a fact. This meal is just as tasty as something that’s much less healthy. Just because my cooking skills leave something to be desired is no reason I can’t be slim and healthy. I may be a little depressed now, but that feeling will pass. If it doesn’t, I’ll talk to my therapist about it. If I eat (or drink) extra calories because I’m depressed, those calories won’t pass!”

Today’s To-Do List:

✓ I read my Advantages List at least twice

✓ I read other Response Cards as needed

✓ I chose a reasonable primary diet and backup diet