Once Upon a Cabbage Soup Diet

My first real dieting effort started the second semester of my freshman year in college.  I didn’t follow any specific plan.  I did no research and read no books.  I just cut out the typical college junk, like beer and midnight pizzas, and started trying to eat less.  And I weighed in with my floormate every Monday morning.  In 10 weeks I lost 20 pounds.  No exercise.  But I had to keep eating less and less to keep losing.  I don’t remember what led to my first regain following that first loss.  But I know that I gained back every single pound plus more.

In the almost three decades since then, I have gone on more diets than I can count or remember.  I eventually regained the weight every time, but sometimes I maintained longer than others.   Sometimes I was thin for years.  Sometimes I was heavy for years.  Sometimes the weight pendulum swung back and forth much faster.

Some diets were easier for me than others.  Some were healthier than others, based on sound nutritional principles.  Some diets were, well, just a bit kooky.  I did the Scarsdale Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Carb Addicts Diet, Dr. Oz’s “You on a Diet.”  Even a three-day fast I read about in Cosmo.  I did Weight Watchers more than once.  The first time I reached lifetime status and stupidly stopped going (so I gained back every pound);  the subsequent times I never stuck with it very long.  And then I discovered the South Beach Diet.  Reached my goal.  Gained it all back.  Reached my goal.  Gained some of it back.  And here I am on South Beach again today.

So you may ask why I would go back to a diet plan that I have tried (more than) twice before.  Because it works for me.  And it is really about healthy eating.  And it is really not a diet in the sense of a weight loss plan… but a diet in the sense of a “way of eating for life” plan.  SB never failed me – I failed SB.  As with every other diet I have ever been on, I ended the diet when I reached my goal (or earlier in many cases past) and then I started eating things I used to eat.  “Aha,” I said to myself, finally having a much needed epiphany.  If I eat what I used to eat I will weigh what I used to weigh.

If you consider my diets of the past, some were clearly not going to do more than result in temporary weight loss.  But some were really very sound, proven plans.  What I know now that I didn’t know then is that no plan, crazy or sane, was going to get me off my weight roller-coaster unless I made the choice to stop riding and start living.  Living a healthy eating lifestyle once and for all.  Today, tomorrow, and all the days to come.  My eating still has its ups and downs.  But they are no longer the yo-yo weight variation of years past.  Just the little struggles I am still working to overcome.  A pessimist might look at my past and think “give it time, the yo-yo will bounce back.”  But the optimist would know that my yo-yo days are over.  The optimist would view all my past dieting attempts as learning experiences that all brought me to a better place and better me today.  Still a work in progress.  But progress is the key word.



Filed under dieting, history (my past), low-carb/South Beach

41 responses to “Once Upon a Cabbage Soup Diet

  1. I really love how you point out that the diet really did WORK…it is just a problem to call it a diet because it really has to be a LIFETIME commitment to being healthy!

    Good for you for seeing the difference!

    I’m excited to see how your progresses keeps pushing on forward 🙂
    .-= Brandi´s last blog ..Reflection – Not the Christina Aguilera Song =-.

  2. I’m not gonna lie. SB sounds like torture for me. However, I’m not here for me. I’m here for YOU. So, if you are a fan of SB for you I’m a FAN of SB for you.

    Progress is a wonderful way to get somewhere and be able to become local. Because you are familiar with the road, and you know the byways. Makes sense, be strong, give it some oomph!
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..Drink Up! =-.

    • Karen

      You know I had not thought about that road familiarity. But it was easier, this time around. Knowing what I already knew. I think SB is pretty misunderstood so in my real, non-anonymous, life, I don’t say that is what I follow.

  3. SBD works for me too. I chose it because I know I can eat that way forever. I like the food. That is one of the keys to true, long-term success.

    • Karen

      And I think what people forget, or don’t realize, is that it is intended to be a forever type of thing. Not just about weight loss.

  4. Genie

    I remember Atkin’s going around when I was in high school. Trying to lose weight, a friend in my neighborhood walked around all summer snacking from a can of Armour Vienna Sausages. (Not the same can.) YUCK!!

    Today, I know people who have done really well on the SBD. It’s about finding what works for each of us. I have my own list of diets I tried. You are so right about us failing the program (failing to learn)–if it was a healthy, sound lifestyle-oriented program–not the program failing us on the rebound.

    • Karen

      Yuck is right! I think a lot of people lump SBD with Atkins and they are so different. My hubby did Atkins once while I was on SBD and I shuddered at the fat he took in.

      I think your point is key – we each need to find what works for us. One size does not fit all when it comes to diets.

  5. Excellent points, Karen. I have a long and sordid history of different dieting failures as well, and I think the key is always, always finding what works for you. Because if you can find something that you can live with for the rest of your life, then it will surely be successful (in more ways than one!)
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..It’s my Friday! =-.

    • Karen

      I totally agree! And you and I both know how exercise can be a key piece too. Right now I would rather work out a bit more to burn a few more calories so I can eat a bit more too:)

  6. Just the mere mention of cabbage soup makes me taste it. I’ll have to work on a list of all the diets I’ve tried. I also had a good amount of success on South Beach. It’s really healthy!!!
    .-= Diet Buddy Daily´s last blog ..Turning 43 and on a MISSION… =-.

    • Karen

      You know… until you said that about tasting the soup I totally did not remember that I have a great recipe, like chili, that has cabbage. You don’t even taste it!

  7. well…that’s exactly why diets don’t work…only lifestyle changes…and I think you have to believe you can and will be able to live this way for the rest of your life…and then you actually need to do it. 🙂 thats the way I am approaching it this time anyway. 🙂
    .-= losingmore´s last blog ..in the words of Rosanne Roseannadana, “it’s always something” =-.

  8. Oh man. The cabbage soup diet. That brings back memories! Which day was it that you could only eat bananas and soup?

    I always think that diets are just quick-fix ways to lose a lot of weight in a little bit of time.

    .-= The Chubby Girl Diaries´s last blog ..Let’s talk Biggest Loser Season 9 Finale. =-.

  9. I love this post! The whole time I was reading it, I thought “yep… been there… tried that…”

    I have actually just eliminated the word diet from my vocabulary altogether. For me, it was a word that got me into a lot of trouble because when I was at a healthy weight and “not on a diet” I would eat whatever I wanted (and was somehow shocked when I got heavy again).

    I’m so glad you feel like you’re in a better place and are able to make better decisions based on all those experiences.
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Weigh In: Week 5 =-.

  10. Me, too! I could have written this post if you just substitute Diet X for Diet Y. I totally agree about the idea of a good diet for me being one that I adopt as a lifestyle of eating. Forever. I’m definitely an OPTIMIST!

    • Karen

      Well I am trying hard to be one too. Wait. I need to rephrase that in a more positive way:) I am an optimist about it too! Woo hoo.

  11. I remember going on this diet…it about killed me. Ugh. However, I did like the soup. 🙂
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Way Back When Wednesday: Bootlegged Gin =-.

  12. sunnydaze

    Cute post. Like a diet memory lane, LOL. I’m glad that most of us have discovered that it needs to be a life style change. I hate the word diet now. It sounds so restricting and temporary. I want to be healthy for life.

  13. This takes me back to my Atkins days (ketosis breath and all!). Worked great for me but didn’t fit with life long eating as I was doing it. Now that I have read about SB, I realize that is the plan I am on, although I prefer to think of my eating plan as my own – no name, just part of the life-style changes that I am working so hard (most of the time) to ingrain into my body and mind – kind of like muscle memory.
    .-= Sskar´s last blog ..FDA Warning on Diet Drug =-.

    • Karen

      Oh I could use muscle memory with how I eat! I need to rewrite those memories to be all the healthy habits I am trying to adopt and to forget the bad habits.

  14. Uh-huh, yep… been there, done those diets too, including Cabbage Soup, fasting, WW (3 times, twice reached goal, both times quit going), and SB (2 times… works for me too). And, yes, YES… “If I eat what I used to eat I will weigh what I used to weigh.”

    I never could face the thought of life without my binge foods, life without chocolate every day, life without treats to reward and numb myself. Now, overeaters anonymous is really helping me to do it one day at a time, to seek help and to feel my feelings rather than medicate with treats. One day at a time, I hope to stop overeating, to find a path to greater serentiy and a fit, healthy body.

    Ooops, I went on about me, didn’t I? You are such an inspiration to me… your thoughts about food, exercise and healthy eating always give me hope! Thank you!
    .-= Peacefulbird´s last blog ..World Prayers =-.

    • Karen

      I find you inspiring too:) I love how thoughtfully you are approaching this journey.

      BTW – you can absolutely eat chocolate on SBD!

  15. I love, love, love, love this post!!! This is what I would have written if asked to write about where I am today!!! You are WONDERFUL and have given me an idea!!! Hmmm…I think that I may add an element of SBD in my life. Though I don’t want to totally rid my body of carbs, a this point, I do want to maybe start on phase 2ish and watch my carb intake. I eat WAY to many carbs!
    .-= Corletta Brown´s last blog ..Let’s talk about the stars… =-.

    • Karen

      Okay Corletta – I am going to write a post about SBD misconceptions someday. I think people would be so surprised at how many carbs you can eat on this plan. It is about “good” carbs, not “low” carbs.

  16. Oh Lordy. I remember that darn cabbage diet, too. Our whole family went on it when I was in high school (when I didn’t need to diet).

    I never had success losing the college (pizza/beer/sweets) weight with diets or calorie counting. I finally started to eat better – and cook healthier – consistently. Over time, I didn’t want the fried food and entire box of cookies. It made me feel horrible if I did eat it. All this said, the transition took several years, and baby steps were necessary along the way.
    .-= Melinda Neely´s last blog ..Discerning All Natural and Organic Food Claims =-.

  17. Wow. You managed to wait until college? I tried my first one in the sixth or seventh grade. I think it was a starvation diet. I know it wasn’t a one type of food diet.

    I think SBD has come a long way. What people don’t understand it usually isn’t the diet that doesn’t work it’s the person. At least you recognize that. I know WW works. It’s that I don’t work it correctly.

    Good luck on SBD. I hope you blog about it sometimes.
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..7 Day Raw Food Detox Day 5: I’m So Over It =-.

    • Karen

      I was skinny as a kid. Started gaining weight my senior year of high school. And it has been downhill (and uphill) ever since.

  18. Nice post Karen. I have also tried many types of diets, that didn’t end up being right for me in the long term. I have come to realize that I have a real problem with bread, pasta, rice, crackers, cereals, bagels, not to mention all the other manufactured carbs and sweets! When I eat them it just makes me want to eat more. So I am trying to limit them as much as possible, and I feel so much better when I do! But it doesn’t mean that I will never eat them again, or that I should feel guilty if I eat them! I just have to be careful and aware when I eat them. The trick I guess is recognizing what works for you for the long term!

    • Karen

      I have a problem with all those things too. And I think that there is science that backs up why that happens to us!

  19. PROGRESS is the key word! Coco would shoot you on sight! I laughed hard at that one!
    p.s. I will be doing a post on sleepwear soon! hah!
    Have a pretty night!
    .-= Bringing Pretty Back´s last blog ..I’m a slow learner and Coco would NOT be proud of me. =-.

  20. Amen, sista! When I first got to goal people would ask me the “secret.” When I said eating healthy and exercise….well, they didn’t want to participate with that….sounded too much like work.

    You are absolutely right – it is a process…keep it going.
    .-= Melissa Fast´s last blog ..Someone Take The Wheel =-.

    • Karen

      I think most of us have wanted to find an easier way, at some time or another. But the reality is that it all comes down to doing the work… once we each decide what that looks like for us personally.

  21. I agree completely! Not with the SBD, which would kill me *g*, but with the part about finding what feels right, what gets the results you want, and what is sustainable for the long term. In finding that sustainable “thing”, we may take a few wrong turns, but success lies in finding a new path, not in turning around and heading back to where we were before. 🙂
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..A Hungry Girl Meets THE Hungry Girl (Giveaway) =-.

    • Karen

      Oh I like that part about a new path and not heading back to where we were before. I certainly am trying to learn and adapt as I go along.

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