Saturday, June 10, 2006

Green healthy poop

Well, my girlfriend and I are on a diet. And not just any diet my, real life web friends, I am on the trendy and heart friendly South Beach Diet. It was her idea (that phrase been around since Adam and Eve). Normally, I would have fought this change tooth and nail, but several things conspired all at once to make me more inclined to give the diet a try.

The first was my move to Tulsa, over the past two years I have gained about 20 pounds. It was a combination of big lunches and a lack of exercise. When I moved to Tulsa, I decided to drop a few pounds. I started eating smaller lunches and I started running again. I lost about 6 to 8 pounds with no major effort on my part. I really have not put on any real distance on running, but I expect once I start hitting three miles on a regular basis, I will probably drop a few more pounds.

Recently I got a routine blood test for free, from a third party that was hired by either my company or the insurance company my company uses. Basically, the insurance company gets generalized statistics on the group that took the test. I think my company could get price breaks based on that information. I get a free blood test and a chance to win a prize. The results of the blood test did not tell me anything I did not already suspect. I am my father's son and I inherited his genetic tendency toward high triglycerides. Mine were hanging around the 300 range, they should be less than 150. My dad's, when he first got tested a few years back and started his heart medication, was around 700. His has since returned to normal My cholesterol was borderline, at 201, but I had low HDL (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol). Otherwise I was normal. The blood pressure fine. As of the test, I could lose a few pounds ( which I had already started on that)

Based on the information from test, I made a few small dietary changes fairly quickly. For breakfast, I changed from skim milk to soy milk, which has heart healthy fats. It also omega-3 fatty acids, which your body does not produce naturally. I cut out cheese from my lunch sandwich, bought a leaner meat and incorporated carrots into my lunch routine. I started eating more fruits - apples and bananas mostly. I also started avoiding some potential sources of cholesterol for dinner. I started eating some frozen salmon with frozen vegetables for some dinners. I switched popcorn to a non-buttered variety. For snacks during the day, I bought some almonds and I try to eat a handful daily. If I don't eat almonds, I try to have some dark chocolate, I eat a few squares of. I also bought some oatmeal breakfast squares. My goal was to lower my total cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Once I made these changes, I continued running and I lost another 5 to 7 pounds.

The third piece of information that pushed me even further closer to the line was anecdotal. Recently, the girlfriends younger sister graduated from college and moved back home. She convinced her parents to give the south beach diet a try. My girlfriend's dad, who is in great shape (He is 65 and ran a 5k run in about 25 minutes a few weeks back) was able to cut his heart medication in half after being on the diet for about a month or a month and a half. Her mom lost some weight, her dad may have also lost some too, though he really didn't need to.

In addition to those reasons, my girlfriend wanted to go on the diet after catching the bug from her parents. She said that I didn't have to, but we all know that means I had better do it. Her reasoning is long term. If we eat healthier now, we will avoid many of the problems out parents have or at least delay them. I personally suspect that I will probably be placed on a statin eventually, no matter how healthy I eat or how far I can run. Also, I am not opposed to anything that makes my girlfriend hotter. If I have to eat a salads and low fat plain yogurt to make that happen, then I consider it a pretty good trade.

The diet's stated goal is heart health, but it also archives weight loss. The diet operates in phases, with phase one being the hardest and most drastic. This lasts for 2 weeks. Phase two is more gentle and lasts until you reach your target weight goal. Phase three, is the maintenance phase where you just maintain the weight lost. The diet operates on a several simple principles. Eat good fats over bad fats, eat good carbohydrates over bad carbohydrates. That is the first basic idea, the second idea is the concept of the glycemic index. You goals is to avoid foods with high glycemic indexes, because these foods cause your blood sugar to spike higher. That causes your blood sugar to crash lower later on, when the insulin does it's job too well. Which you then eat other foods with high gylcemic indexes to feel better, and so the cycle continues and you consume more food than you need in the process. The diet also stresses the importance of fresh foods over canned or heavily processed foods.

For phase one, the foods consist mostly of salads, low fat dairy, fish, eggs, and other lean meats. Fried food, bread, alcohol and fruits are out. For breakfast on day one I had, an omelet, with green and orange bell peppers, fat free plain yogurt, and some V-8 juice. For lunch I had a tuna salad, fat free cottage cheese, and some more V-8 juice. Tonight, salmon is on the menu. Phase two, you can start adding back in foods that you enjoy, but slowly and with an eye on the weight. If a particular food makes you crave more of it in a few hours you should consider not eating it as much.

I would say that I did feel a little different on day one, but not hungry or tired, which is good. What I am missing the normal rush of energy that I normally received from my meals. This isn't saying eating did not make be feel better, it just did not make me feel as good as quickly. So I guess the diet is working. As of day 5 of phase one, I have removed some of the reactive hypoglycemia that I was getting a lot. I can now be hungry with out my blood sugar crashing, which feels different than I am used to. Now I am just waiting for my poop to turn a healthy green color.


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