The South Beach Diet Plan – How I Made it Through Phase 1

I love to eat! I guess that’s why I hate dieting so much.

Most of those fad diets either totally restrict you from eating the foods you love (and crave), or they make you eat an overabundance of the foods that are well, not my favorite.

After all, how many eggs, peanuts or oranges can you really eat? I guess that’s why I was so hesitant to follow my friends on the South Beach Diet bandwagon.

They were all trying it, and yes, even losing weight. I watched enviously as their waistlines got smaller and smaller, but couldn’t get their groans and complaints out of my head during those first few days and weeks on the program.

Give up all sugar, carbs and fats for two whole weeks! Not me! No way! Not even for a smaller dress size.

Then I went to see my doctor for an unwell feeling I couldn’t shake. I wasn’t really sick, I just felt tired and icky all of the time. After some tests, he told me my glucose levels were rising, my cholesterol was hitting an all-time high, and even my blood pressure was boiling.

Me? Ms. Healthy? I knew it was time to get serious, so I asked around and did some research and actually found out that, in addition to being a “diet,” the South Beach plan was being used by people not only as a safe way to lose the weight that affects your health, but it also teaches you how to eat in a more nutritious and satisfying way.

Okay, time to give it a try. And the very first thing I ran up against – you’re probably heard about it — was the dreaded “Phase I” of the South beach Diet Plan: the “hell of restriction,” as my friends like to cal it.

Luckily, I knew so many people who’ve been on the diet already, I could turn to them for assurance and advice.

By the way, that’s Tip #1: Get a Support System in Place.

For me it made all the difference. I honestly don’t know if I would have succeeded without the support of my friends. They shared their tips and stories of surviving the first 14 days on the program and made me feel like I could too. Here are some of my favorite survival tips:

o Indulge in one last favorite meal and dessert before starting the diet

o Get everything that’s not allowed to touch your lips in the first 14 days out of the house and threaten anyone who dares to sneak in contraband foods

o Keep a daily journal about your feelings during Phase I (its great to read how those cravings and yearnings really affected the way you think and feel after it’s all just a distant memory

o Avoid mall shopping during Phase I (the smells of the food court will kill you)

o Don’t plan on attending any family gatherings, school functions, parties, etc. for two full weeks (become a hermit)

I’ll admit it, during those first few days on South Beach all I wanted was to dive headfirst into a bag of chocolate chip cookies, dipped in whipped cream, with a side a fries and a big slice of pizza.

But when a friend came over and cooked me the most delicious meal of lean chicken and sautéed veggies sprinkled with low-fat cheese (yes, I said cheese!), I knew that I’d make it.

That’s Tip #2: Presentation.

The plate she set before me could have rivaled one found in any five-star restaurant. I learned that night that a beautifully prepared plate of colorful veggies cooked to perfection out beats a bag of Oreos 10 to 1.

Within a week my grumpiness was subsiding – after all, my sugar levels were leveling out and my blood pressure was coming down – and I wasn’t even craving junky stuff anymore. I was actually looking forward to finding new ways to prepare and serve my new healthier food choices.

Which leads me to Tip #3: Learn to Cook.

Since starting South Beach I have learned how to really enjoy cooking. Watching a variety of cooking shows and incorporating their ideas using my South Beach approved foods was one way I found to survive the first phase of the program, since you can always find new and interesting ways to prepare and enjoy the foods I was permitted.

I couldn’t believe when the two weeks were over. It seemed to go by so fast, and then I was allowed to start reintroducing some of my favorites again into my daily eating plan, like fresh fruit and bread (thank God!).

The best part was I no longer craved some of those no-no foods like cake, ice cream and even, yes, those diet buster cookies! And I managed to lose a whopping 12 pounds, a true triumph for someone like me who had never been able to follow any diet for longer than a day or two before!

Was starting the South Beach Diet difficult? Yes, in the first few days, but it sure was worth it!

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