Thursday, July 9, 2009
Growing up, I was always skinny. No matter how much I ate, I never seemed to gain weight. This was true all the way until college, and when I started working. Then I got married. And I suppose as true in almost a 100% of the cases, I started to pack it in. I never tracked my weight until recently, but I knew it wasn't a good situation when my clothes started NOT to fit. And then came the reminders. An aunt, very much aware that my dad passed away due to cardiac arrest at the age of 48 warned me to watch it. Other well-meaning relatives warned me of the same. Aside from my clothes not fitting, I also realized I was tiring easily. I couldn't keep up with my boys on a few minutes of soccer. My annual wellness check-up last year indicated I was well into the overweight stage - closer to being obese than being in the normal range. My blood sugar was up, and my cholesterol level was not ideal.
Somehow, I got convicted to do something about it. I remember a visitor we had last year indicating that the South Beach diet worked for her. I researched in the Internet and found out that the diet was designed by a cardiologist; and was used successfully by a lot of people including former President Bill Clinton. So I gritted my teeth and decided to pursue it.
The most challenging part was the first phase of the diet - the first 2 weeks was very strict. No RICE, no FRUIT, no PASTA, no CORN, no POTATOES - the idea was to emphasize lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish. Low-glycemic-index vegetables are allowed as well as low-fat cheese, nuts, eggs. I thought I wouldn't be able to keep it but I knew I had to try.
Day 1 was fine; but Day 2 was a disaster. There was a food festival at the office showcasing various foods from Asia Pacific countries - I threw the diet out of the window and indulged in all types of food from the Philippines, India, Russia, China, Pakistan and Korea. Yum. In my mind, there was always a Day 3, hahaha. Eventually, I was able to complete 14 consecutive days of strict dieting - the final result: a grand weight loss of 12 pounds. I did minimal exercising - just following a rigid diet that didn't allow me to starve and had me snacking twice a day between 3 full meals. The results were dramatic enough for some colleagues who saw me everyday at the office to notice it. I was smiling too as I noticed my once too-tight clothes fitting more nicely.
There's a sub-story to it - my wife, who wasn't really convinced initially that I would stick to my diet saw the changes in me. When I was on my second week, she started her first week too. She never got to complete the full 14-day routine, but she has cut down on her carbohydrate intake and voila, she also has lost 10 pounds or so. It's been almost 2 months since we lost weight and we've managed to keep the pounds off - even after attending several picnics and parties. We haven't really stuck to the 2nd and 3rd phases of the South Beach diet which should lead us to reach our target body weight, but we're getting there. The first phase was a good weight loss starter. We do plan to shed more pounds in the coming months so our body mass index (BMI) would be well within the normal range.
Some of the wonderful lessons on losing weight:
- losing weight together with your spouse is a very enriching experience
- exploring new food choices can be fun
- plain boiled / steamed vegetables can be very tasty
- you don't have to starve to lose weight
- me, a Filipino, can survive without rice
- attitude matters (I guess in everything, including losing weight)
- eating the right foods will make you continually crave for the right foods
- turning your back on an ice cream cone / soda can be very satisfying
- my knees are happier when I jog now that I'm 12 lbs lighter
Online tools I use: South Beach Diet for Beginner; Body Mass Index Calculator. The photo above is a lovingly prepared meal of scrambled egg, ground chicken breast and vegetables, string cheese, asparagus and assorted nuts. And, for any weight loss activity, the BEFORE (May 2009) and AFTER (June 2009) photos serve as evidence.