What started out as smooth sailing during Week 1 of the South Beach Diet quickly turned stormy by Week 2. I found myself crabby and headachy and exhausted most of the time. The children noticed a steep increase in angry shushing as I wandered zombie-like around the house. Twice, I sat down and then immediately fell asleep.
I wasn't starving, mind you. I ate whenever I felt hungry. On paper, I was consuming plenty of calories, but the gym said otherwise. My half-hour of moderate cardio was hell. On the weight circuit, anything more than 10 reps was impossible. Normally I can do 15 no problem. But I figured it was all good. Without the easily accessible sugar coursing through my system, all my body had left to burn for fuel was stored fat and the fumes from my sugar-filled dreams. BURN, BABY, BURN!!!
But then I started to get light-headed around Day 11. It happened at the school library where I volunteer. I attributed my dizziness to the ungodly heat in the room. I had already stripped down as much as is appropriate in a public school setting, but still I found myself listing like a ship. I went home and took a vitamin. The next day, it happened again at the gym. That's when I decided to add fruit back into my diet. I mean, I'm trying to lessen my dependence on sugar, not starve my body of vital nutrients it quite obviously needs. It's pretty clear I would not do well in a Third World scenario.
Things didn't go completely off the rails until Day 13. It was Husband's company holiday party. We got all dressed up and drove to the World Trade Center in Boston's burgeoning Seaport District. I knew better than to think I would stick to any kind of strict regimen at an event like that, so I told myself as long as I agreed to stay away from dessert, I could have any pastry-wrapped hors d'oeuvre that came my way. And come they did. As did the flutes of Prosecco. Before long, I found myself seeking out a table filled with bread and various tempting spreads and somehow that became fair game. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
After cocktail hour, the curtains parted and a huge buffet opened up before us: salmon encased in puff pastry, beef tenderloin with mustard sauce, mashed potatoes, butternut squash ravioli, salad with roasted pears and blue cheese. My eyes were as big as dinner plates. I know what some of you are thinking: It was a buffet—how good could it be? My answer is: Who cares? By now, I was really enjoying myself with my dirty martini and my now-empty plate. I had a post-prandial glow that didn't diminish even as it slowly dawned on me that 95% of the people at the party were younger than me. By a lot. One such youth informed me that my elementary school had recently been torn down. Time marches on, I said, Oh, and are you going to eat that?
That's when I saw it. Someone carrying a plate of desserts. I could barely even find where they were hiding them with all of the black curtain partitions hanging everywhere. I batted around for a while, and finally tumbled out of the curtains into a long display of tiered silver trays filled with petits fours: tiny layer cakes enrobed in white chocolate, miniature pumpkin tarts, carrot cupcakes, pastel-colored macarons, and chocolate truffles. My dress exploded into shreds just looking at it.
I'm not going to tell you how many I ate. Okay, I ate nine. But about a half hour later, I was beset by such terrible stomach pains that we had to leave. On the car ride home, I had the gall to be perplexed by my condition. What could possibly have gone wrong, I thought? Well, Tammy, let's see. All you did was eat EVERYTHING you haven't eaten in two weeks in a three-hour period. I was incapacitated for several hours, but I slept it off and woke up the next day just fine.
I'm not proud of my behavior. Okay, I'm a little bit proud. (I mean ashamed. Very ashamed!) The good news is that despite my terrible fall from glory, I did manage to lose five pounds over that two-week period. The scale hasn't lied to me up to this point, so why would it start now? But what about the sugar cravings, which were the whole reason I tried this diet in the first place? Do I still want dessert? Of course I do. I always want dessert. I think it's written into my genetic code. The difference is that before the diet I craved dessert because I had it all the time, and now I crave it because I never have it. Surely there is a happy medium between always and never. Like…twice a week? I'll let you know when I close in on the sweet spot.
In the meantime, I celebrated the end of my diet a day early with a microscoop of kulfi ice cream from Toscanini's (cardamom + crushed nuts + sweet cream = heaven!). I may never get over the way their ice cream pulls like taffy when you take a spoonful. Love!!