How to sabotage the Skinny Rules: Holiday Edition

Make excellent choices.

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with greek yogurt and flax seed.
  • Lunch: Salad with grilled salmon
  • Dinner: Grilled fish, salad, grilled zucchini

Surprisingly, I found it easy enough to observe Bob Harper’s Skinny Rules at meals over the holidays. At the Fish Grill in Brentwood, I even opted for salad and zucchini instead of fries or baked potato, and I resisted eating any of my mom’s fries.

Ready for the the trick to completely sabotaging any hopes of losing weight?

Between meals, stuff your face with cookies, cake, and candy. All of it you can get your hands on. Non stop.

For example, I baked my boyfriend a He-Man cake for his 42nd birthday. (Is that weird?)

While working at home last week, I reduced He-Man from a bust with shoulders and hair to simply a face. Then I ate that too.

heman cake

Look, I’m not conceding defeat or anything. I’m congratulating myself on learning how the rules work, even as I blatantly flouted them.

Starting today, this time I mean it. I’m gonna stop eating starches after lunch, or anything after eight. I’ve almost gotten rid of all the other crap around the house. Except for maybe a little bit of candy. But I’m totally going to exercise some will power over that. Totally. (And if I don’t, I’ll start the Skinny Rules tomorrow.)

 

Hedgebrook, where (almost) everyone pronounces my name right on the first try

My writer buddy Pam tipped me off about today’s salon at Hedgebrook. She also drove, which allowed me to indulge freely in the wine at the the poorly described “wine and cheese” reception, which included hummus, deviled eggs, and veggies, plus the wine and at least six kinds of cheese.

People, I can’t overstate the importance of having writer buddies.

That's me in the bottom picture, reading from Bark and Lunge

That’s me in the lower picture, reading from Bark and Lunge

Hedgebrook may well be the best kept secret for women writers in the greater Puget Sound area. On the one hand, I want to sing its praises to make it a less well-kept secret, but on the other, I don’t need any more competition for the residency. A thousand people applied last year for 40 spots. I might have better luck getting published and then getting invited to teach at a Salon, because the teachers get to spend a few nights in one of the hand-crafted cottages with loft sleeping areas, stained glass windows, pottery sinks, and surrounded by evergreens. (Also, maybe by then they’ll have a cottage that allows dogs… then again, it’s just as well. I don’t think Mia could climb the ladder to the bedroom.)

Because my primary genre at this moment is memoir, I signed up for the morning session with Erica Bauermeister, Turning Life into Memoir. In two hours, we worked through several prompts to inspire memoirists at all stages, which gave me fresh perspective I can use as I revise Bark and Lunge. Erica defined good memoirs as being “generous.” Don’t just talk about yourself, but share what you learned. Or at least be really funny. Erica also spoke a lot about working with her own writing group, which made me feel really good about the bond I’ve formed with my own.

Between workshops, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch of mixed greens with blue cheese, pomegranate seeds, and pecans, and choice of soup:  ginger sweet potato coconut curry or beef chili for the carnivores. Followed by an assortment of cookies and brownies, of which I ate too many. (Please don’t tell Bob Harper on me!)

Incidentally, whenever I fill out an evaluation form for anything that asks how they can improve whatever it is, I always write “snacks.” No need for that here.

Naturally the title, Good Metaphors Are Like Puppy Photos on Facebook (Easy to Like), initially attracted me to Laurie Frankel‘s afternoon workshop, and I followed that instinct because me write pretty someday. I knew I was in the right place when Laurie started the discussion with a slide of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, explaining how impressionist paintings themselves are metaphors. We had a lively time coming up with unique descriptions of rain, the taste of beef gristle, and how an old geezer might describe a headphone-wearing, videogame-playing kid.

My main takeaway from the session was the idea that metaphors don’t necessarily have to make something more “visible” to the reader. Sometimes they take you away from the literal meaning, but bring you closer to what the author is trying to express. Favorite example, and not just for the obvious reason: “The rain caressed her, licked her, like a mama dog cleaning her pups.” Laurie pointed out that the metaphor is a lie. That’s not really what the rain is doing. What the metaphor conveys is how the character feels about the rain. As a writer who struggles sometimes to write straight-up what my characters feel, I ought to explore this type of metaphor.

Revved up and inspired, I trotted down to the longhouse for the aforementioned wine reception. Pam and I both signed up to read from our memoirs at the open mic, something that would have terrified me a year ago. I planned to introduce my piece, an excerpt from the second-to-last chapter of Bark and Lunge, by saying that I was looking for critique buddies (fresh eyes), but I didn’t even have to do that, because they passed around a list where people could put their contact info and exactly that sort of request.

Afterward, a few people told me they could relate to my piece, and that they’d like to read the rest. And I was enormously proud of Pam, whose Sperm Runs went over huge.

All in all, a fantastic, energizing day!

True Confessions, weight loss edition

Almost 10 years ago, I lost a bit of weight on Weight Watchers. Following the plan was fairly easy and it took me a little over six months. I lived alone and didn’t have much of a social life; controlling what I ate was a piece of cake. I didn’t even exercise that vigorously at the time. And I was in my twenties.

I mostly kept the weight off for several years, despite moving in with Rob, perhaps because I practiced martial arts with him regularly. If the pounds started to creep back on, I thought, no problem, when the number on the scale gets higher than I can stand, I’ll just do Weight Watchers again. I rejoined on two occasions. Once with meetings and once online. I didn’t find it as effective either time, and not because they changed the plan slightly.

Partly, I found it too hard to keep track of my points. I eat lunch at the Skagit Co-op a lot. How am I supposed to know how many points are in their tuna cassoulet? I also blame my thirtysomething metabolism. The pounds don’t just melt off anymore.

When you’ve been meaning for a few years to lose that pesky five pounds, it’s especially discouraging to watch that amount double… and triple… and …

“Okay,” I’d tell myself. “Let’s do this.” Then I’d finish Rob’s fries. A couple of fries can’t hurt, can they?

A few months ago, I saw Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper on the Today Show talking about his new book, The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin.

The rules include:

  • Drink a big glass of water before every meal.

I can do that!

  • Eat apples and berries every day.

Oookay.

  • Go to bed hungry (don’t eat after 8 pm)

Challenging, maybe, but definitely a good idea and something I could work toward.

  • Eat protein at every meal.

This is a tough one for me, since I don’t eat meat (although I do eat fish, eggs and cheese). When I was on Weight Watchers, I considered a baked potato to be an acceptable meal. Which brings me to:

  • No white potatoes. Not even baked.

Uh oh.

  • No starchy carbs after lunch.

Oh, hell, no. That’s too hard. If I can’t have rice, potatoes or pasta, what am I supposed to eat for dinner?

The following week, I may have tried to drink more water and not eat after 8, but that was about it until Rob downloaded Harper’s audiobook from the library. (He downloads lots of books by trainers. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t telling me I needed to lose weight.) I spent a recent Sunday morning lying in bed listening to Harper’s twenty rules.

“Okay,” I told myself. “Let’s do this.” Then ate most of Rob’s fries at lunch.

BUT… I also stocked up on veggies, apples, and berries. Bought the Skinny Rules for my Nook, so I could reference Harper’s sample menus to give me ideas about what I’m supposed to eat for dinner.

A week and a half later, I’m down four pounds. Which is awesome, considering I cheat every day. Just a little.

What’s the difference? I needed some rules to enable me to make better choices. No potatoes. Fine. No starches after lunch. If you insist.

Also, I’m not thinking about what I can’t eat, but what I get to eat. Yay, salmon, peanut butter on apples, fancy hard cheeses, cucumbers and hummus, Greek yogurt mixed into my oatmeal. I feel like I’m changing the way that I eat, not just dieting. Remember that tuna cassoulet? I’m not eating it anymore (pasta noodles and creamy sauce). I stick to the vegetable dishes at the Co-op and make sure to get a small scoop of tuna or egg salad. That place is really a blessing, since I don’t like preparing my own lunches. (Or dinners, for that matter, which makes it less fun to follow Rule 15: Prepare and eat ten meals at home a week.)

I don’t usually tell people when I’m trying to lose weight. And incidentally, I’m allowed one splurge meal a week, so if you see me eating a cracker at 7 pm, don’t wag your finger at me.

If I gain those four pounds back by next week, I’m totally deleting this post.