Thursday, February 23, 2006

Is Healthy SC Challenge Open To Low-Carb?

First Lady Jenny Sanford promoting healthy living in South Carolina

I need to brag on the First Lady of my home state of South Carolina for just a moment. Her name is Jenny Sanford and she is the wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

Last May, Mrs. Sanford started a new project designed to get South Carolina residents interested in their health by providing them with information on diet, exercise and making better lifestyle choices. She called it the Healthy South Carolina Initiative and launched the web site as a resource for people to learn more about improving their health.

However, I previously expressed some concerns about this new program in this blog past last year because I thought they were focusing too much attention on cutting fat in their nutritional recommendations and not paying enough credence to taking measures to reduce the high-carb foods that seem to derail most people's weight loss efforts.

The reason my weight loss has been sustained is because I am no longer constantly having to feed the need for more and more carbs with the rollercoaster ride that my blood sugar used to go on when I ate a low-fat, high-carb diet. Now that I'm livin' la vida low-carb, those cravings are gone and I'm eating some great-tasting and filling low-carb, moderate-fat, moderate protein meals to keep my weight under control. So far, so good keeping my weight off for one year and counting.

Now it is nine months after this new initiative began and Mrs. Sanford is still playing an active role in this movement in South Carolina. She is currently asking citizens of the Palmetto State to make their recommendations about how to improve health through "choosing better foods, reducing overall caloric intake, creating healthier versions of favorite recipes and discovering ways to get in shape in their communities."

It's called The Healthy SC Challenge and they are looking for recipes and outdoor activities that real people in South Carolina have found to help them be successful at managing their weight and overall health.

To take Mrs. Sanford up on her challenge, click here to submit your entry. The winners who are selected will join Gov. and Mrs. Sanford at the Governor's Mansion in Columbia, South Carolina in the Spring 2006 for a special reception in their honor for suggesting improvements in overall health during the first year of the Healthy SC Challenge and those winning entries wil be posted at the official Healthy SC Challenge web site.

“There are so many great ways to eat well and have fun getting fit in our beautiful state. Sharing different ideas that have gotten proven results can help motivate us to become a healthier state," Mrs. Sanford said.

To that end, the two types of entries they are looking for include:


They want "healthier versions of traditional Southern foods." LOL! Anybody got a good "healthy" fried chicken recipe? Hee hee! Just kidding! But use your imagination and share your cooking prowess with everyone. The recipes should consist of "healthy foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, fish/seafood, lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts/seeds and healthy fats/oils." Substitute ingredients in the recipes should be included for ingredients such as "shortening, margarine, butter, and excessive refined carbs (white flour, white rice)."

Why? Except for the refined carbs (which I COMPLETELY agree with), why must the fatty oils be eliminated from the recipes? With all the evidence of how healthy eating fat is for improved heart health, why would you want to eliminate that from the recipe? Believe it or not, even the vilified saturated fat has been found to be GOOD for you!

I think Mrs. Sanford should take a look at the latest studies that prove the low-fat diet has failed to produce any measurable weight loss over the long term, is actually making people fatter, and has shown no decrease in the risk of contracting disease. These studies are all very well-documented and reveal a lot about the low-fat lie we have been told for the past three decades.

To narrowly pigeonhole people into the low-fat mold in a discussion of "healthy" living is denying the very methods that some of us have used to get healthy to begin with. I cannot in good conscience submit a recipe to this challenge if I omit the healthy fats that MUST be a part of my healthy lifestyle change. Would including ingredients such as butter, coconut oil, or olive oil automatically disqualify my entry as "unhealthy" despite the fact that eating in that very manner is what led me to lose nearly 200 pounds? I think this is a legitimate question for me to ask.

The old definition of "eating healthy," which has always been translated as low-fat/low-calorie/portion-controlled, needs to be revised. Stories like mine prove that there are MANY ways to eat healthier which can include fat and protein with a deemphasis on poor carbohydrate choices such as sugar, white flour, and starchy foods.

Would anyone deny that I'm eating "healthier" now at 220-something pounds than I was when I weighed 410 pounds? Anyone? If not, then why wouldn't my recipe suggestion be looked at in the same manner as a low-fat recipe would be? I would hope so.


On a less controversial topic and one that I am in total agreement with Mrs. Sanford on is exercise. You will not find a stronger advocate for increased physical activity in my state than me. What used to be the most dreaded thing in the world to me is now something my body could never live without! Sadly, a recent fitness study shows our nation is in an exercise crisis because this is such a foreign concept to most people. That MUST change immediately!

The Healthy SC Challenge is looking for creative ways that people in South Carolina incorporate exercise into their busy lifestyle. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of exercise a day keeps the heart healthy and has even been shown to extend the length of your life. Combining your exercise program with a low-carb lifestyle can help lower your total cholesterol, help you burn body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, and to maximize your workouts.

I devoted an entire chapter of my book, "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb," to the subject of exercise because I consider it an essential part of ANY healthy and effective long-term weight loss program. It's NOT a dirty word, I promise you!

The deadline for submitting your recipe or healthy activity entry is March 31, 2006. Please include your full name and contact information when you submit your entry just in case they need to speak with you.

Submissions can be sent to the Healthy SC Challenge headquarters by:

1. Applying online
2. E-mailing them here
3. Faxing your entry to 803-737-3860

Be sure to tell them "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man" from Spartanburg sent you! :)

2-25-06 UDPATE: In response to my concerns, I received the following e-mail from Meghan Wood, the Director of the SC Challenge, today:

I totally agree with you that we must have fats in our diets. Of course, that not all fats or oils are created equal, but we've never advocated eliminating fats. As you know, eating a balanced diet and exercising even in small amounts helps improve our overall health. The goal of the Healthy SC Challenge and this latest recipe/exercise contest isn't to pick the best way to lose weight, but rather to improve the overall health of our state.

I think you'd agree that our bodies and metabolisms are all different; thus, some will lose weight on a low carb diet, others in other ways. Our hope is to encourage them all and applaud their efforts. Our recommendation is to pay attention to the fats you eat and making sure to eat healthy oils, nuts, grains, fruits and veggies, and eliminate or at least reduce that processed stuff we all know is bad for us.

Actually, it was funny that you mentioned someone sending in a better-for-you fried chicken recipe - we talked in a planning meeting that we were hoping for one! I imagine your recipes are modified to reduce carbs, and we'd love to see some of those and of course any exercise secrets you might have.

Your success is tremendous. You really found what works for your and your testimony of freedom from the burden of excess weight is inspiring. What you did was hard and you make it sound pretty darn easy! Thank you again for your help
promoting this contest. I hope you and your readers do have some submissions for us - I'd really love to see them!

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I don't make the claim that low-carb is "the best way to lose weight" out there. Instead, I ALWAYS encourage people to find something that works for them and JUST DO IT!

However, while all of our bodies and metabolisms are indeed different, I don't like the fact that I must exclude butter from any recipe I would want to include as an entry in the challenge. Butter is INDEED healthy, along with eliminating processed foods and eating nuts, fruits and vegetables. I feel like the low-fat model is being used to determine what is healthy and what is not.

Nevertheless, I will submit my suggestions for this challenge both with recipes and workout hints that helped me in my weight loss and now weight maintenance. I appreciate the fact that South Carolina cares enough about wanting to help the people who live here get healthy. That IS what this is all about.

No, it wasn't "pretty darn easy," Meghan, but it was the best "diet" I ever went on. And the last! THANKS for responding to my concerns and I'll get my suggestions to you very soon.

How about YOU? Gotta healthy recipe or physical activity to share in the Healthy SC Challenge? Send it to Meghan NOW! :)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home