Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I had one of those lovely opportunities to reflect upon my lifestyle today as, this morning, a formerly loose skirt fit - um - snugly. Oh, and further to yesterday's throw away comment about the skinnies, I sense technically I now am in need of a size up. I guess you can say that "opportunity" is the economical code word for "I totally lost my shit and quietly conceded that the jig is up".

Let me articulate this clearly: I have eaten everything I desired, chemical composition-be-damned, for the last three months. I have drunk half-bottles of wine at dinner routinely. I have had little exercise, other than walking, unless gardening counts. I have baked many an item and I am a very good baker. I have traveled to Europe and Montreal - lands of the yummy restaurants and boulangeries.

It is not surprising that I have gained weight. But it's still a shock that my not-thin skirt is not loose.

On the plus side, this turn of events has given me a chance to create my very own "diet plan" - which is actually quite a lot of fun to do (if not to follow). I'm in no way surprised that all kinds of celebrities and "nutritionists" are getting in on the game.

I've decided to call mine the "Fuck?! My Clothes Barely Fit Recalibration Plan" a) because I don't believe in diets (obviously) and b) it adequately sums up the motivator and the angst in one simple name. I can see the book deal in my near future, yes?

Let's start with the premise: Life is long. Metabolisms change. Lifestyles change. Appetites change. Metabolic homeostasis is delicate. (Doesn't it seem like I have a higher degree in nutritional science?) One's job is not to be ever static in one's size and shape but to be resilient in the face of change, when one decides it is necessary.

And really, what's the truest motivator for getting a grip? Those of you who said healthful longevity - get to the back of the freakin' line. The truest motivator is horror at the thought of needing to buy new clothes (or make them, or borrow them, or knit them etc.)... Who has piles of money and time for that shit? Who feels good about going out and buying her skinnies in the next size up (unless, natch, she's been trying to gain a bit of weight)? Um, hello, I already have good clothes in a size I can get with.

Another motivator: Actually feeling gross. How much can one indulge before it gets old, before it layers on all of the other indulgences and drags? I don't like this puffy feeling.

So, let me outline the Phases. (Of course there are phases. This is after all, a future best-selling weight-adjustment plan.)

Phase 1 aka the "Don't Go Gently" (Two Weeks): This is the phase that's supposed to be really effective because it hurts. I'm hoping that my plan somehow forestalls the pain while achieving the outcome but, if it doesn't, I'll have to make hurt for gain (I mean, loss) seem compelling.

It includes:
  • Very few carbs (sob). Vegetables and the occasional small serving of beans, rice or slice of bread are encouraged, but this is about reverting to the low carb system.
  • No booze. I know, I gasped just writing that. According to many women of a certain age (and by that, I mean my mother), alcohol is inefficiently metabolized by the forty-something woman and it goes straight to the waist. Fuck. But remember, this isn't forever. Just for a couple of weeks to rebalance things.
  • Lots of protein. Read all the other books if you want to know why. Also, it's good.
  • Daily ration of chocolate. It's my gimmick. And it's got phyto nutrients and can satiate while inhibiting appetite when used appropriately. Yes, I did just refer to chocolate "usage".
  • Other than the chocolate, and the odd serving of berries or peaches (what, I'm only human?!), no sugar, refined or otherwise.
  • Happily, all kinds of dairy, having varying fat contents, are welcomed in small quantities in Phase 1. Also welcome: reasonable portions of nuts, seeds and unsweetened almond milk.
Phase 2 aka "Does this mean Phase 1 is Over?" (Three Weeks):
  • For better or worse, this the same as Phase 1 except you get to drink a daily white wine spritzer (2.5 oz wine). Can you believe I just came up with that?! You may think the spritzer is a tasteless relic of the 80s but, chances are, you formulated that opinion having observed a lot of people (your parents' age?) going into their 40s and dealing with this apparent "alcohol makes you fat" syndrome. To qualify: Half a bottle of wine, drunk routinely in early middle age, arguably makes you fat. Spritzers simply increase your hydration and support the bottled water industry.
Phase 3 aka "The Phase You Stick with Until You Don't and Eventually It's Time to Go Back to Phase 1" (Your call on duration):
  • Occasionally, i.e. every third day but no more frequently than that, you are welcome to fool around with rations of carbs i.e. turn that serving of rice (and every other carb you intend to eat that day) into a slice of homemade flan. Or you can turn it into a plate of porcini pasta with cream. Lord, I want to be in Phase 3.
  • You get 5 oz. booze per day. That's it. Drink it in 3 spritzers if you must and call it Pinot Noir Soda. Or, you can save up 2 night's ration and have 10 oz in one night. But no more carry over than that. For example: You can forgo your glasses on Wed. and Thurs. and have 2 glasses on Fri. and 2 on Sat., but that's the extent of it. You can't save up you week of wine and binge one day a week. (What is this, the Adolescent Diet?)
I'm tempted to bemoan the unkindness of age but, really, I've been pushing the envelope for quite a while and, till pretty recently, the centre was holding. I've enjoyed my immoderateness tremendously and I hope to experience it again many times in the course of my life. However, I don't want to be 20 lbs heavier at 50 than I was at 40 - if the equation is at all within my control with lifestyle moderation. Eating indulgently is a fabulous joy one should never regret. But regaining balance is another kind of pleasure. Here's to the best of both worlds.


  1. You crack me up. Seriously, endless entertainment here in watching your systematic and intense dedication to whatever cause, including dieting. For contrast, I must point out that I woke up with a hangover on August 1st (after a very enjoyable dinner with friends July 31st) and committed to an alcohol-free August. Changed the plan August 3rd, to the family's extreme amusement. I'm thinking January might be a possibility, although if the weather's a bitch, it might not be manageable. But I'll watch you and learn. Impressive.

  2. You'll be very successful I know - remember it comes off slow at first but if you complete your plan I can easily see 10 lbs off in 5-6 weeks for sure and you'll keep losing.

    I do the same thing - and the only reason I eat "right" is to fit in my clothes - I travel to teach and during heavy travel periods I ALWAYS gain weight! Good luck and hang in there:)

  3. Ah, I feel your pain. This is a constant struggle for me, and I'm feeling the carbs I've been allowing myself the last few weeks settling around my middle. Your plan sounds like a good and workable one, and I may follow your lead.

  4. I love it!
    I think I will joine you, love AM

  5. I commiserate with your waist issues, as I'm dealing with them myself after a long, hard summer without as much exercise as I need or want. Any weight is fine, except you have to feel fine in it, imo. I don't feel fine if my tailored dress doesn't fit right.

    However, I'm not as motivated as you, and deprevation tends to negatively influence all other aspects of my life as I get extremely grumpy and shaky. Not worth it to me. So I'm going to switch to my version of phase 3. and skip 1. and 2. Hopefully in three months time my waistline will be back to normal (Which is different than 'thin' but fine for me).

  6. Great plan. I especially like the fact that chocolate usage is allowed. I went sugar free (except for natural sugars found in fruit) for the first four months of this year and not only did I feel great, without even trying also lost 10 lbs. They are now back with a vengeance around my midriff area as this summer no morsel of sugar was too small or large for me – I ate it all. And now I feel slow and sluggish and thick. But balance, although hard to do for me, is better than deprivation and I may have to draw up a plan similar to yours. How can a bit of chocolate cause so much havoc?

  7. I love your diet plan, let me know how it works out, because maybe I'll try it. Goodness knows I'm wanting something to work faster than my current diet plan is.

  8. My favorite plan is that I can eat anything I want as long as it's on/in a gigantic bowl of salad. But right now, my poorness is making us eat pasta daily, so I am hoping additional walking/biking will even things out.

  9. I hear you. I'm doing the low(er) carb thing too, and it's mostly because I don't want to spend lots of cash on clothes that I'd wear while feeling fat. I don't care if it sounds vain. If it works, it works! I remember once hearing a fitness expert say that in order to succeed with weight loss, it's important to have a vanity goal as well as a performance goal.

    I don't drink, but I don't eat meat, either, so my plan is a little different from yours. The main change I've made is to cut out the obvious sweets and wheat products, and to increase my fat intake. And so far, it's working. In fact, I realized just how much it's working, just recently, when I ate a pizza and cookies and immediately puffed up and felt tired for 3 days.

    My goal for now is to have more "good" diet days and fewer "binging on carbs" days. :)

  10. Kristin, you are so funny! I commiserate, and am also working on it, but I don't have as much discipline as you do :-). Your formerly loose skirt is going to feel loose again very soon.

  11. Well that sounds like a pretty reasonable plan, you've left lots of food to eat and chocolate to keep it from feeling too painful. After reading your post, I came across this article and thought of you. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/research/06nutrition.html?_r=1
    My husband and I have had moderate success with dinner being meat and vegetables without an added starch.

    Good luck! You are a brave woman giving up alcohol for two weeks. ;)

  12. Oh, good luck! My summer of indulgence was nowhere near as exciting as yours, but it's still left me unhappy with my scale and the fit of at least some of my clothes (fortunately(?)everything I gain goes straight to my middle so at least the skinnies still fit. I just look even more pregnant than usual :P). I don't even have any alcohol or pop to cut out---I'm afraid it's the daily ration of chocolate that has to go :(. And the weekly binges of Doritos...

  13. mater: Happy to amuse! :-) I'm really intrigued to see if I can do the no-wine thing. I've never tried that element of this plan before. It's pretty hardcore.

    Pammie: What is it about travel? I feel puffy the minute I go somewhere??!

    Pseu: Come on along! The more the merrier!

    Anna: Woohoo! Keep me posted on how it's going for you...

    Roses: You're so right about saying that every size is fine, as long as it works for you. And knowing how you roll is also key. Phase 3 is where we should all end up, right? So why not start there?

    Andrea: I don't find that the chocolate wreaks havoc. For me it's the baked goods. But they addict me as they suck the energy out.

    CGC: Join along! I'd love to have friends on this journey...

    LAP: That's a really sound premise but I just can't get with it...

    Ms M: Egad - vegetarianism does throw a kink in this plan. But I think that eating more fat is always a sound idea :-) Really, good fats are totally good for you and they fill you up.

    Susan: I hope you are right!!

    Seraphinalina: I loved that article, thanks. But I think those food vendors might have sponsored that study :-) I do the protein veg dinner all the time. It's a great idea, IMO. PS: I like to think I'm brave too...

    Taran: Ah, I hear you. Your problem is that you didn't start with enough vices :-)

  14. This happened to me last year, but instead of a snug skirt, it was my designer friend Zang Toi taking my measurements that brought the truth home. Nothing like having your weight gain announced by a tiny shrieking designer! Jolted me into a new exercise program.

  15. This sounds like a great plan to get back to where you want to be. The most important thing is that it's something you can stick with. Great motivation! Thanks!

  16. Wendy: That's a hilarious vision. I think that would be pretty traumatizing. But let me say, you are so slender now, your plan obviously worked - which gives me hope! Did you give up booze??

    Falling: Thank you!

  17. No alcohol? Wow, that's harsh. My diet solution is to try to drink less than 5 pints a week...

  18. Reethi: And that's a good one! As long as it's working :-)