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South Beach, Self-Image, Die Hard

June 29, 2007

(Nine days since my last post? There goes my five-times-a-week plan. I haven’t been home before 10pm a single day this week, though, so at least I’ve been generating some material for posting.)

So I’m on the South Beach Diet. Three of us in the Game Studio started it on Monday, and another started it a couple of weeks ago and is blazing the trail ahead of us. Our wives and SO’s are doing it, too. We’re in Phase I, wherein we eat only low-sugar vegetables (fuck you, carrots, I guess) and lean meats (fuck you, uh, bread of all kinds?) for two weeks. Breakfast consists of scrambled eggs and turkey bacon, whereas it used to consist of a bagel with cream cheese or a scone or, more often, nothing at all. Lunch and dinner are made up of things like salad greens and chicken breast. It’s all very reasonable. Black-bean chilli is going to make up a big part of my weekend, I tell you what.

Since Monday, Brian has lost something like six pounds. It’s been in the neighborhood of 94 degrees outside, though, so half of that may be to sweat, what do I know? Unfortunately, I haven’t been to the gym all week, and that’s where we keep our scale, so I don’t know what I weighed at the beginning (I’m going to guess… 260 lbs.) or what I weigh now (I’m going to guess… 259 lbs.).

Without the instant positive reinforcement that comes with immediate results, I have only one thing to fall back on to make this work: self-loathing. Denying myself stuff is a kind of flagellant rush I can appreciate. “Good for you,” I say, “you didn’t eat that bagel.”

This is a mutation of the thing I was doing before (and that has worked as a weight-loss thing when I lived in cities where walking was something people actually did), which is based on the idea that Everything I Don’t Eat is a Little Victory. So, leave that part of the burger on the plate, eat half a piece of pie, skip dessert (or lunch) and it’s good. Dial that up to ten, and it’s the philosophy that I mine when I’m presented with the image of a toasted sub. Made with bread. Blackened-at-the-edges, dressed-with-peppercorn-ranch bread. Sweet, life-giving bread. O, bread.

Then, yesterday, standing around a theater lobby with thirty minutes to kill before Live Free or Die Hard1 starts (and the irony pressing down on my stomach like a party platter of toasted subs), I smell popcorn. Salted, warm, buttery popcorn. Sweet, life-giving popcorn. O, popcorn.

And I start thinking to myself: Would I rather be in shape, or would I rather make peace with the way I look? Should I chase after an image of myself on an engine fueled by self-disgust, or should I accept that I cannot escape the fat slob on my tail?

I look at the candy, bright in its case, displayed behind glass like a colorful Chinese vase. “See this candy?” it says. “It is special. It is art.”

Do I beat myself into lean, healthy submission, and live enslaved to the service of a looming idea, like the slave toiling until death on the scaffolds of the pyramids? Or do I live through my senses, free to explore a world of tastes and smells, but die over and again from a long series of clogged arteries and rotten teeth, free to live but too fat to get out of the house?

I look at the little metal dish of collected butter topping that has dripped from the self-serve spigot. Self-serve — have all the butter you want.

Do I live free to dress as I like and run around like an action hero, or do I die, hard gunk filling my veins and stopping my heart?

I realize that this is a bullshit question. I can eat enough to enjoy myself, but little enough to be happier, once I get myself down to a weight that’s not ridiculous. I can be active enough to eat without shame, and I can be fit enough to be happy without feeling like a prisoner.

I tell myself, “You can have it both ways. And you love having stuff both ways, don’t you?”

“That’s true,” I tell myself.

“Just wait. Beat yourself with this whip. You’ll feel better,” I say to myself, popping a two-calorie, sugar-free mint in my mouth.

And I do feel better. I skip the popcorn. But when the cute teenage couple walks by with two bags of popcorn, I say to myself, “Fuck you, me.”


1: I’ll review it shortly, but I liked it more than I’d expected and less than I’d hoped.

Music: Digitalism, Jupiter Room (Planetary Lobby Version)

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4 comments

  1. Hey man. A couple of years ago Pramas and I did South Beach and those first two weeks of the plan were really tough on me because I’m a carb lover. I’d rather eat carbohydrates than just about anything in the world. I don’t get cravings for sweets, I can be moderate about chocolate and have been known to toss up to half a pie because I baked it, ate a piece and then just flat didn’t want anymore before it spoiled. A bowl of chips? A box of crackers? Bread, potatoes, pasta? Those are the things I crave and desire…

    So there you go. A long-ass comment that should have been a private e-mail and a little friendly sharing about food issues. Best of luck with the fitness plan, whatever works for you.

    For the last several months I’ve been using the free tools at Smartpeople.com to track my meals. Sometimes (like when we went to the Herbfarm) it’s just impossible to track, but day to day, I’ve found the tracking tools really help the anal project manager part of me and have given me goals to strive for beyond “No, don’t eat the bread, don’t give in to the bread!” which was driving me a bit batty. Now I play that min-max game of trying to put together a menu that hits enough fiber, enough protein, without too many carbs or too much fat, yadda yadda. I find myself thinking “I could have X and still be within my calorie goals but I won’t hit my fiber/protein/calcium goal if I do.”


  2. That site is pretty fucking rad. I’m going to try to use it for the next week, while I’m off the South Beach thing at Origins. I think I’m much better suited to calorie-counting than denying myself precious bread and grains. Thanks, Nicole!

    For those of you playing at home, here’s the link: SparkPeople.com

    Just ignore the stock happy-people-glad-to-be-dieting photos. The vibe of the site is, thankfully, not as cheesy as it could be. But it is cheesy. In my opinion, the tools there are worth it.


  3. South Beach is /wonderful/. Not only is it effective, both short and long term, but (at least after the two-week “curb your cravings” bit, it’s all about /healthy/ eating. Lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and dairy.

    I feel so much better when I eat that way, rather than stress eating all the sugar and crap I’m doing now.

    I have some great recipes, especially crock pot cooking, if you are interested.


  4. At this time it sounds like Movable Type is the top blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?



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