Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Headed South

When people ask me what I have been doing lately, I just say, "Chopping."  I am neither lying nor exaggerating. That pretty well sums up the extent of my activity since Pa-pa and I went on the South Beach Diet ten days ago.

Although neither of us is what you would call obese, we have both collected, over the winter, a little more padding around the mid-section than we would like.  In my case, the pounds have crept erratically up and down over the past year, and on Feb. 17 I was wearing jeans two full sizes bigger than those I wore a year ago Christmas Day.

When I bend down to pick up something off the floor, I don't like the feeling of meeting myself halfway down. After all, I need to stay agile and energetic to keep up with six grandkids, and that fifteen or so pounds of extra weight bogs me down.

At 5'7", I always feel better when the numbers on the scale stop somewhere in the low 130's. Therefore, I occasionally get to the point where I say "Enough!" and motivate myself to take some kind of action.

In the past decade I have hit that point two other times and tried two other weight loss/healthy lifestyle programs, both of which worked well for several years.  For three years I worked out three times weekly at Curves, amassing a record of over 300 workouts.  When I no longer had my gym membership, the Nutrisystem program kept me at a decent weight for a couple years. Both these programs require a considerable (but affordable) monetary investment, and, in my experience, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

A gym for women only, Curves offers easy-to-use resistance-based machines that work every muscle group in addition to aerobic "recovery" boards between machines and a stretching apparatus at the end of the workout. I liked the idea that the Curves patron is in and out in half an hour. I found the music motivating, the staff courteous, and the other exercisers fun to visit with.

A drawback for me is the fact that Curves membership requires a year-long contract and the automatic withdrawal of a flat monthly user fee from my checking account.  I would much rather pay as I go and pay for only when I go. This is complicated by the fact that our local Curves is closed during the times I most prefer to go, namely early weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  So when going to Curves began to seem more like an obligation than an option, and when it began to feel like I wasn't getting the value I wanted from my buck, I let my membership go.

Based more on food choices and portions than on exercise, Nutrisystem ships a month's worth of desserts and of breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees to users at a time.  A quick look online, and you will see these are not exactly cheap--plus, the dieter must supplement the shipment with dairy items and with fresh fruits and vegetables to round the menu out.

Did I find Nutrisystem convenient?  Well, yes and no.  It was great for me to pull out an entree and nuke it in the microwave at mealtime, and most of the food is really pretty palatable.  No problem there.  But this didn't change the fact that there was Pa-pa, sitting at the other end of the table with a fork in his hand, waiting for his supper.  Although I lost the desired weight, I got tired of fixing two different suppers--not to mention how hard it was when I had to settle for a small entree and he got mashed potatoes and gravy.

Because we are doing South Beach together, our newest adventure solves that problem.  Again, as promised, the extra pounds are peeling off.  A week and a half into the diet, we are almost finished with the most restrictive phase, the initial two weeks, during which bread, rice, pasta, sugar, and fruit are all forbidden.  But there are lots of olive oil, eggs, fish, chicken, and fresh veggies--and this is where all the aforementioned chopping comes into play.

I have committed to this with the attitude that it is a "project" of sorts.  We picked our time carefully, beginning just after the huge pig-out that was Valentine's weekend.  We have no trips planned, so we can maintain a meal routine.  There have been relatively few temptations, thank goodness, but it did hurt some to turn down cake at a reception and ignore the concession stand at a ball game.

But so far, so good. I am cooking and serving some foods I don't normally buy. I am trying some new recipes, and the two of us are eating what is likely the healthiest diet of our married life.  This morning I zipped up a pair of jeans I hadn't been able to pull together at the top in a year.  At the one-week weigh-in, I was already down six pounds.

So there is hope. Hope that we can carry some healthier eating habits into the summer and save the splurges for special occasions.  Hope that it might be a little easier to hoist myself out of the water on one ski.  And most important, hope that I can keep up with six grandkids who are counting big on "Googie Camp" but growing up way too fast.

I anxiously await these summer pleasures. In the meantime, I chop.          

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