Here at SlimKicker, we realize that different diets work for different people. Paleo, and low carb are two diets we have covered a lot recently, and we wanted to learn about people's experiences with other diets. Today, we bring you an interview we did with Kalyn Denny, who lost over 40 lbs with the South Beach Diet many years ago.

SlimKicker: First, tell us about how you discovered the South Beach Diet, and what your life was like before you found out about it.

Kalyn: For most of my life I was pretty thin and even taught aerobics for a while, but then in 1995 I was elected president of my local teacher's association and went from an active job as a classroom teacher to a life of sitting in meetings, always with a bowl of candy on the table.

I gained about 40 pounds over a few years and was very unhappy at that weight. I don't remember how I first heard about the South Beach Diet, but when I read the book I immediately had the thought that it could work for me.

SlimKicker: Did you follow South Beach Diet strictly, or did you have some personal rules of your own?

Kalyn: When I first started on South Beach I wasn't as strict with the rules about limiting saturated fat, and for the first few months I was probably doing more of a low-carb diet.

But after a while I didn't feel good eating so much meat, and I started to embrace the South Beach philosophy towards a diet of whole grains, low carb vegetables, and more fish and chicken and less meat.

I do still believe in following the spirit of the diet and not the absolute letter of the law, so I will use a little butter to flavor a dish (but not much) and occasionally do make a recipe that uses a little bacon or some higher fat cheese. I call those kinds of things a "once-in-a-while-treat" on the blog.

SlimKicker: Did you try any other diets or weight loss programs beforehand, such as Weight Watchers or Atkins?

Kalyn: South Beach is the only diet I've ever stuck to for more than a week or so. I don't think I could ever stick with a diet that made me calculate every bite of food I put in my mouth.

SlimKicker: Do you still follow the South Beach Diet now? if not, what type of diet do you follow?

Kalyn: Yes, I still follow South Beach, and even do phase one quite regularly when I want to lose a few pounds. Sometimes I now do what my brother and I call "phase 1.5" where we're mostly eating phase one foods, but every day or so we will eat something that's not phase one like rice, whole wheat bread, or a piece of fruit. One thing I love about South Beach is that if you indulge and gain a few pounds, you can do phase one for a week or two and lose it before it gets out of hand.

SlimKicker: Was it easy to stick with South Beach, or did you have to overcome cravings throughout?

Kalyn: For me there were not a lot of cravings after about the first four or five days. In fact, when I completely avoid sugar, white flour, grains, and fruits like Phase One requires, I have a real feeling of well-being and increased energy. Of course, that's not a healthful way to eat over a long period of time, but for two weeks I didn't think it was that hard.

SlimKicker: Did you experience any plateaus while you were following South Beach Diet?

Kalyn: My goal when I started the diet was to get below 140, and I got to 145 relatively easily. Then for a long time I went back and forth, up a pound or two and then back down a pound or two. I remember how excited I was when I finally got past that and down to 138.

SlimKicker: What other habits did you adopt that helped you lose 40+ lbs, and maintain a healthy weight right now?

Kalyn: I started doing aerobic exercise after I had been on South Beach for about six months, and now I try to exercise at least 5 times a week. I walk with a friend as much as I can, and when it's bad weather or she doesn't want to walk I do a program called Walk Away the Pounds, which is an exercise routine done to a DVD. I think exercise is essential in maintaining your weight at a healthy level.

SlimKicker: I know your blog is filled with recipe ideas - do you have a favorite or two?

Kalyn: I have different favorites all the time, but two things I'm currently loving are:

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, and Cilantro (http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/04/recipe-for-southwestern-quinoa-salad.html)

Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro (http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/05/recipe-for-chicken-and-avocado-salad.html)

SlimKicker: What's your favorite unhealthy food you like to indulge in once in awhile?

Kalyn: It would be something that's salty and greasy, with french fries probably at the top of my list. I love to take my nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews to a Utah place called Hires Hamburgers, and when we go there I have to have some fries. Luckily it's not too often!

Kalyn Denny lost over 40 lbs with the South Beach Diet in 2004. She shares her favorite recipes over at her blog: Kalyn's Kitchen. She also shares tips about low glycemic eating, cooking, and gardening.

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