To South Beach or Not to South Beach?

I’m getting fat. 

In fact, I’m already fat—and getting fatter, I’m afraid.

This eating thing has gotten out of control, and that’s the biggest and fattest of ugly facts .   I’m being cupcaked and ice creamed to death, Twinkied and Ho-Ho-ed to an early and over-sized grave—Richard Simmons’ worst nightmare.

Here’s the deal (something regular readers already know)–I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder for more than 20 years—take tons of meds to manage symptoms.  And one of the side-effects of one of the drugs is, as my doctor described it, that Risperdal “tends to increase body mass.”

How’s that for a belly bulging side effect!  And we’re talking literally here, folks.

So, my quick questions for Tuesday are:

Can I step up to or away from the plate long enough to lose weight?

Can America’s biggest loser South Beach her way to better health?

To South Beach or not to South Beach?

Will you weigh in on this fat-amassing matter?

38 thoughts on “To South Beach or Not to South Beach?

  1. See my comment back to you yesterday about Calorie Count. It’s not a diet, it just helps you control your eating in a healthy way. That’s my vote!


  2. Kathy, as a fan of all things sweet and awful for my body, I screamed in horror when I clicked on your site and DIET was yelling at me from the header! Scare of ages! Anyways, I agree with Lisa. I’ve had the best luck just paying more attention to what I eat rather than sticking to a strict diet. Just making myself look at serving sizes and calories is enough for me to NOT eat a whole box of Oreos.


    • How funny, Tori! I too love sweets–totally adore them and could live on them–easily. I crave carbs like no one I’ve ever encountered, so trying to curb that sweet tooth is a struggle. Sorry to hear you are equally afflicted!


  3. I’ve been on the South Beach Diet (and just about every kind of diet, I’m sorry to say). I did lose weight, but it started slowly coming back on as I slowly added carbs back into my diet.

    I’ve been successful this past year in losing weight simply by eating healthful foods the majority of the time (9 servings of fruit & veggies per day, beans, whole grains, and some low-fat, non-meat, proteins), exercising regularly (and challenging myself not to get too complacent or lazy by doing the same thing over and 0ver), dealing with stress with a daily yoga and meditation practice, and allowing myself a treat once or twice a week so I don’t end up with major cravings that drive me to binge on something when I could have taken care of it by having a little when the craving first came up.

    Wishing you luck and success, whatever you decide. South Beach isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things. Lots of veggies and fresh foods. 🙂


    • Robin, this sounds so sane and balanced! And 9 servings of fruits and veggies are a lot–but I’m sure very, very good for you.

      I think that part of my problem has been not exercising. For many years I was a fitness fanatic, but toward the end of our time in Haiti, getting to the gym became difficult. And I began focusing more on my blog than on exercsie. I suspect I need to strive for more balance.

      Thanks so much for these points, Robin.


  4. Hi pal. I’ve never done South Beach so I can’t say anything specific about that, and of course I support you no matter what–twinkies or tofu. However, I think the best method for me has been just to cut down on calories, plan ahead, eat foods that will keep me going, not eat too late, cut down on sweets but give myself a small treat here and there, etc. Pretty basic. It’s much easier to get back on track with a strategy like that when I fall off track (which is inevitable, let’s be honest) because it feels less like a “diet” and I don’t tend to pack on a lot of pounds when I do slip. They say that if you lose a bunch of weight on a diet and don’t stay with it (who can?), you’re likely to gain back all the weight plus thirty percent. Think of long-term success. Sometimes something really restrictive seems like the only way we’ll lose, but it’s so not true. Start small–maybe work on getting more water in each day and more whole grains or something. Just a thought. XOXO


    • Ah, Sarah, thank you–dear heart! You are right that diets don’t normally work in the long run. The funny thing is this: I used to know this and believe it firmly. I don’t know why my thinking got off track or where. I think I did better back in the days when I was single. Sara is such a good cook, it’s difficult to not over-indulge.

      But, I really need to remind myself that diets are not the way to go! How did I loose track of that fact?


  5. I did the South Beach diet about 7 or 8 years ago now. Like many other people, I dropped a lot of weight while I was on the program, but it came back (and then some!) nearly instantly after I stopped. Plus I got a little obsessive on the program. (A little, like A LOT obsessive…) Maybe that’s just me?

    I like the prominence of fresh vegetables in the program, but I don’t agree that grains/carbs are the enemy– especially when whole grains can give us sustained, healthy energy and when non-foods like artificial sweeteners are still “allowed” in the SB diet. What gives? My sister and I started believing that carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes were evil while we were eating the South Beach way, and that’s just not true!! So I disagree with the SB tenets in that respect for sure.

    I think that your best bet for weight loss is to focus on FRESHNESS and REAL-NESS when it comes to eating food and setting out your dietary guidelines. As Michael Pollan (one of my personal heroes) says– fewer ingredients are definitely better when it comes to what we eat. Your body will respond to real foods with real nutrients in them much better than it will respond to pre-packaged “diet” foods with tons of additives, preservatives, and other chemicals in them. Especially over the long term. And if you crave sweets (who doesn’t?), maybe we can find you an all-natural recipe for homemade Twinkies… 😉 The challenge is on!

    Good luck with whatever program you end up deciding on– my personal motto is just to “Keep It Real”.


    • I’ll tell you what, Dana–the more I read your blog and observe your lifestyle through that window, the more I love it, and know that’s the way to go. Natural and as raw as possible. Some of your recipes sound so awsome–and yours is not even a food blog–though a food post did get you freshly pressed!!!!!!!


      • Raw food isn’t always the best for my sensitive tummy, but REAL food definitely is. I am secretly addicted to steamed vegetables over brown rice. *ADDICTED!* Some people can tolerate different levels of uncooked food, but the trick (as with anything) is to make the transition gradually. Nobody wants to go from eating cooked food, lots of meat, and baked goods galore to nothing but raw salads overnight. That would be a recipe for feeling deprived PLUS I’m sure the withdrawal and cleansing symptoms would feel horrible, too. 😦

        Funny that a food post got me FP– now I have a foodie reputation to live up to…


      • I actually do pretty okay with raw–though I like cooked too. Had a salad for dinner with spinach, carrots, red cabbage, and almonds–even passed up the white baguette which I adore!!!! You would be proud, Dana—————-


  6. I’ve worked in metabolism for a long time and I think the evidence is pretty strong that while you can lose weight effectively on SB, it is hard to maintain once you start loosening the reins.

    I think Dana has the right of it — real foods, with as little processing as possible — and above all portion control.


    • Yes, it’s not the losing; it’s the maintaining that becomes difficult. When I read Dana’s comment, I thought, ah–here is a healthy approach! I think a change in lifestyle is really what I need, and it would be best if my partner and I could do this together!

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I hope you’ll stop by again!!!!!!!!


  7. Blech. I am getting so fat. Like…my clothes don’t fit any more and I’m too poor to replace them fat. It’s pitiful.

    If you think South Beach is the right eating lifestyle for you, then go for it. Myself, I’m joining Weight Watchers just as soon as my Sugar Daddy’s big paychecks start kicking in (sometime in June, I think). 😉 In the meantime, though, I feel you, sister. I truly do.


  8. Thanks so much for visiting my ‘Careann’s Musings’ blog today via Freshly Pressed. I love meeting new people here in cyberspace. As a writer I keep my blog’s focus mostly on writing, but I post on other topics, too. I can certainly sympathize/empathize with your dieting dilemma. I actually joined TOPS many years ago, and lost 80 lbs. The problem was, as a “diet”, my eating habits were enforced. I had the mistaken idea that once I reached my goal I could go off the diet. Needless to say, I gained almost all of the weight back. Any program that requires special foods, or eliminates specific ones from your menu, isn’t something that you’ll likely be able to live with for the rest of your life. The only answer for me was to evaluate what I liked to eat versus what my body needed to maintain good health, and adjust my lifestyle in a way that I could live with indefinitely. Now I eat a balanced diet, but in significantly lower quantities, enjoy occasional higher calorie treats, and walk more. It works for me.

    Good luck with your efforts.


    • Yes, exercise is key, as is eating less, and as everyone has reminded me today–diets help you lose weight but not keep it off! You are so right!

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and again–congrats on FP!


  9. You can do it Kathryn! I have faith in you. If you need a good home for those Twinkies…I’ll be happy to watch them for you 🙂 Seriously, good luck. You CAN do it! 🙂


    • I’m keeping the Twinkies all for my greedy self–but I will pass some Skittles your way, my friend! Thanks for the encouragement. I rode my bike-to-nowhere today for 30 minutes————————


  10. I’m fat too, Kathy…I need to get back to exercising regularly (maybe take the price tags off the bike I got for my birthday last July!). Everyone I know who’s been on the SB Diet gained it all back.

    Good luck!



    • I think everyone who has read my blog today seems to know someone who gained the weight back on South Beach. I’m beginning to think it’s not the way to go.

      So glad I’m not the only marginally over-weight blogger at WP! I guess misery loves company–but I will be fun to have YOU along for the ride, if you ever get that tag off your bike—————–


  11. Kathy,
    I’ve been on a relaxed version of the SB diet for three years now. I just gradually and slowly began eating more veggies and proteins and less and less carbs. The key for me with any lifestyle change is doing it gradually and easing into it slowly. (remember it took me seven years to quit smoking because it took that long to wean myself off of the nicotine!) I simply take it one day at time, or one meal at a time or even one bite at a time. I just try making better choices with each and every meal and it gradually becomes a habit for me. I lost 35 lbs three years ago and it’s never come back. You can do it! Oh yea, and cardio works like magic!


    • Horray–a comment from my sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize you had done anything remotely SB-sih before Sunday, and actually that discussion then lead to this post. Sara went out and got me the book. I don’t think I’m going to do anything too prescriptive. So far, I have gone back to working out, cut out sweets and most bread, except for a slice a day of sunflower-whole wheat from Great Harvest. I am eating small portions of nuts for protein. I have got to get my but in gear.

      I’m so excited that you commented!!!!!!!! Have you read anything I’ve written about Daddy?


  12. Kathy…
    I’ve never tried SB…
    I HAVE thrown out my scale (or, in any case, I don’t get on it)
    I try to make sure that anything I eat…I recognize…with the least amount of ingredients possible.
    do you have farmer’s markets? do you garden?
    can you get out and walk or do things you love to do?
    and can you start with this phrase:
    “I am enough.”

    You are starting at perfection…every need, it seems, is a need for God…that is what we are hungry for…I think.

    I had a wonderful experience with “The Weigh Down Diet” about 10 years ago…kind of a “God-based” diet…the premise was…we are hungry for God, but fill ourselves with anything and everything else instead.

    I think you can google it…


    • I love the “I am enough” statement–really powerful. I also am fascinated by the notion that what we all hunger for is God, as I would not disagree that we all crave a spiritual dimension to our lives. I also do not get on the scales–scales are a big no-no! Thanks, Jane!!!!!!!!!!


  13. Well – I lost 30 pounds of rock solid gained it pregnant fat on South Beach. Here’s what I liked about it- no thinking. In the beginning- it’s all laid out. The first two phases are perfect for losing weight and you can eat as much a you want of the foods so your not calorie counting and hungry. Then you have to go in to the third phase which most peorple don’t do where you reintroduce the foods you eliminated.

    At the point where I lost the weight, I switched to what a lot of you readers did- eat natural foods,(not processed) whole grains (including pasta- which you have to be careful with because of the calories) and lean cuts of meat. I only eat dessert once a week or the other fatty foods I like- also- I exercise which makes a big difference.

    That was what worked for me. In the end- it all boils down to vegetables, lean meats, fish, no processed foods, cut down significantly on bread and pasta- and cut out sugar. And the most important- it’s a life style change- it’s forever.

    Good luck! You’ll be even more of a super hottie when done!

    Good luck!!! It sucks no matter what you do.


    • I think the key for me is getting back to working out. For years I never had an issue, as I wouldn’t even consider not exercising daily or almost daily. Clearly, as my sister reminded me, burning calories through cardio can cover a multitude of sins!

      Thanks for the pep talk. I just need to get going and moving!


  14. I’ve been struggling with weight all my life, and the last several years have put on a great deal. It’s particularly hard now I’m not working, as I get less exercise, despite good intentions, and eating the food that’s best for me is hard because Roger needs and wants very different foods than what is good for me. Add the financial factor (healthy food is often not cheap food), and it often feels a no-win situation. I keep trying though, to work on portion control, increasing the fruits and veggies, and eating less fats and sweets. Good luck!


    • The financial dimension is a HUGE one! Most people don’t realize that it’s expensive to eat healthy foods–fresh fruits and vegetables cost a lot more than Twinkies and Pop Tarts! It’s so much more affordable to consume junk and eat at McDonalds than to cook fresh food from scratch. I’m with you on this one, my friend!


  15. So great to talk to you about this today. Your last comment brought up a great point about the expense of eating well. Unfortunately, obesity is an epidemic in our poverty stricken areas. I don’t know what the answer to that problem would be, but we need to address it as a nation, as it is cripling our adults and slowly killing our children.


    • It’s tragic, isn’t it, Marsha! So, so sad! And I don’t even know how we begin to change this. It’s tragic that we’ve made so many amazing advances in medicine, but can’t even feed our own children healthy foods!

      I so enjoyed having lunch with you today! Can’t wait to do it again, my friend–you are dear!


  16. I wanted to lose some weight a few years back and a daily routine of walking did it for me. 3 miles a day at a brisk pace. I’ve never been aware enough of my eating habits, except to realize they are poor. So I simply made it a point to resist the in-between snacks. But nothing works for everyone, so I hope you find what works for you. Good luck!


    • Thanks for your input. I do believe that exercise is key–walking, biking, weight-lifting, etc. I’ve done fairly well this week. However, I miss my sweets like crazy–and the bread. I LOVE bread! Happy trails to you today———————


  17. My experience? Write it down. I love to cook and when I’ve noticed the lbs creeping on I start paying attention. Turns out that a “bite here” and a “spoonful” there ADDS up. Crap. I am so busted. Oh an exercise, too. 30 min every other day – something you enjoy or you won’t do it. I like to walk & I actually enjoy lifting weights. If you’re unsure about weights, check out DVDsby “The Firm” – they’re super informative and you will do their routine 3-4 times before ever adding weights. Good luck!

    And for goodness sake let yourself have 1 thing a day you LOVE. Life is meant to be lived. If that’s bread then have 1 piece every day. Go high fiber etc.



    • You are so right–total deprivation is a big mistake! You have got to allow yourself a little piece of joy every day.

      The good thing is that I do lift weights–or did for years until the last few months. We were living in Haiti, where it became challenging to get to the gym amid post-election violence. I’ve gotten back on track this week. It helps to be home!

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! I hope you’ll come back!


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