January 2-16 | South Beach Diet, Phase 1

Toward the end of last year, I really stopped caring about what I ate.  I gave close to zero in the way of F's, and my body responded by gaining weight.  

The past three years, I've gotten to 220 on three separate occasions.  In 2015, right around our wedding, I was 215-217; at the beginning of 2016, when I tried a plant-based diet (22-Day Revolution), I saw 217; in 2017, I tried Tim Ferriss's 'slow-carb' diet - which is basically South Beach with a cheat day, and saw 217 on the scale.  The problem, for me, was that I couldn't keep it up.

Thinking about it, I realized the reason is that I considered my food choices during those periods as a 'diet' not a 'lifestyle'.  This meant I'd be intentional for a while, but then slack.  And when I'd slack, I'd really let myself go.  

The consequence was that other areas of my life would suffer - sleep, exercise, productivity.  Bad food contributed to lower quality of life.  

I started watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix, and while it's obviously a movie with an agenda, the narrator does an interesting thing.  He talks to a lot of Americans about what they eat, how much thought they put into their food, and asks about their life expectancy.  So many of us have short life expectancies because we each such shitty food.  We give nearly zero thought to our diet.  A CEO that's smart as hell, makes a ton of money with a lot of influence and responsibility, may sit and each highly-processed, sugar-loaded unhealthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The lack of discipline in the realm of food is crazy.  

Why it's also crazy to me is that while you're on any type of a restrictive diet, like South Beach, you realize how much crap is in stores.  Where I live, in West Michigan, the major store is called Meijer.  When you walk in, there's a produce section, followed by an area nearly three times as big.  When you walk through the store with a 'restricted' list, you realize that most of what's there cannot be eaten on 'healthy' diets.  It's crazy.  Going to a lesser store, like a mini-mart, small grocer, or some such thing, and it's even worse.  There, they have almost nothing in the fresh department, and almost nothing you can eat.  

No judgement.  My point is that it's so easy for us to eat so much, gain so much weight AND do so without thinking about it.  

In the U.S., our obesity rate is at least 35%.  You can find different numbers, but they're all at least that.  Add overweight people, and you realize how unhealthy most of us our.  I fell into this camp, and it was VERY easy to do.

Living in a big city, and having to walk a lot, I was mobile.  I walked five miles a day without thinking about it.  If something was less than 5 blocks away, I never drove; having to find parking, pay for parking, and deal with traffic made it not worth the effort.  If this was the case, five miles away, that meant walking back made it a 10-block round trip.  That's more than a lot of us walk every day.  

When I moved to Grand Rapids, MI, I realized just how easy it is to never walk.  I work on a street called Alpine, and see a bunch of people walking down it (by bunch I mean, maybe, one per day).  There are no sidewalks for them.  I started looking around our city, and lack of sidewalks are everywhere.  How do you walk?  Where do you walk?  I rarely walk for one item at the grocery store by my house.  Instead, I drive.  Before I lived here, I couldn't believe people would do that.  Now, I'm one of them.  It's just part of the culture.  

The other thing I didn't realize, which plays a lot more into it all than I thought, is the food options.  Living in Chicago, if I wanted take out, there were many different options.  Because of the options, the food had to be good.  With good, available, affordable take out, people are used to buying it.  When you're used to getting take out, you want options, which includes healthy options.  

In Chicago, I could do the South Beach Diet, and get all my meals in the form of take out, and they'd be healthy and good.  In Grand Rapids, this is not really an option.  There are no places that I can think of that you can get a quick, healthy meal.  You have to do something like a taco salad from Qdoba or Chipotle.  This is not said in judgement.  It just made me realize how easy it is here to gain weight.  

One day, I was doing manual labor.  For breakfast I had a breakfast sandwich, for lunch I had Jimmy John's, and for dinner I had pizza.  That was so easy to do.  A lot of us do this nearly every day, and our bodies are storing the weight.  

I am one such person.  I love taste, texture, and quantity.  But it was catching up to me.  My cholesterol was getting bad, my risk of heart attack was on the rise, and I just didn't feel good.  Realizing how easy it all is, and that I can gain weight is the first problem.  Now that that's admitted, it's time to act.  

I'm currently on Day 4 of The South Beach Diet and I feel great.  I made a crock pot full of chicken, and have been eating with with salads, having eggs for breakfast, and feel good.

It's nice to make positive choices about your body.  

The Real Tom Bratt is Back.