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At one time or another, most of us have wanted to lose some weight. I can certainly remember my own high-number points: the “freshman fifteen” in college; twenty extra pounds when I spent a year in Alaska and it stayed dark for nine months (I hibernated); and two full years of the I-Don’t-Care’s after my spirit-sucking divorce when I ate and drank anything I wanted. I remember standing out on the patio of my new home after the divorce dust finally settled, looking at my reflection in the patio door: There I was, smoking a cigarette, dressed for school in my old-lady fat clothes, thinking, This is so not me. Soon enough, I found my mom-and-pop (and fireman!) gym, learned how to cook for one, and ever since I’ve been fairly lean and mean.
Of course there are times of slippage, like when I go home to Minnesota for Christmas and eat piles of fudge and frosted sugar cookies. Or very often in the spring, after our bitterly cold Arizona winters, when it’s much more fun to stroll around the neighborhood to see all the new colors than it is to exercise inside. But walking the ‘hood is not the same as hitting the gym—I don’t care what Dr. Oz tells you—and this inevitably leads, for me, to that extra layer of body fat that bloats my face, reestablishes my linebacker shoulders, and has me carrying my naked breasts from shower to bedroom so that I don’t develop a hunchback before I can strap them into a bra. My inner thighs also start giving off sparks.
I’m finally tired of the five pounds I gained this spring, so am back into my regular eating and exercising regimen. I don’t call this a diet…I call this part of my obsessive/compulsive lifestyle that you too can adopt if you have body dysmorphia like me.
First off, if you have some extra weight on you, grabbing at it, squeezing it, and slapping it around will not make it go away. Believe me, I know. You have to get into an eating routine. Here are some suggestions:
1. Eat a piece of fruit when you get up in the morning. I don’t care if you ate an entire pizza the night before…eat the fruit and drink your coffee to let your stomach know who’s in charge.
2. Later in the morning, eat something else breakfasty: a couple boiled eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, peanut butter toast. Throw down a handful of almonds or walnuts and have another piece of fruit. The beauty of this is that it keeps you from being hungry.
3. For lunch you have an array of options: lentil soup, black bean soup, pea soup…a turkey sandwich…a Balance energy bar…or any combination thereof. I’m not much into mentioning brands, but I have to praise the Balance bar, which comes in a variety of flavors, is always good, and is always only 200 calories. I take them everywhere.
4. In the afternoon, have more fruit or—better yet—some raisins and almonds. Some people might call this “trail mix”, but I hesitate to use the term because while “trail mix” sounds healthy, it’s not. Trail mix will ruin your figure and undermine any other efforts you might make to lost weight. Trail mix is not your friend; think of it as the Osama bin Laden of food. Instead, throw a handful of almonds and another handful of raisins into a baggie and take that to work with you. Call it a snack.
5. Dinnertime! (You might think of this as “suppertime” if you’re from the Midwest). No longer will you be that frazzled working girl in the TV commercial wondering what to cook, because I’m going to make this easy: You either get a big salad with turkey, chickpeas, olives, dried cranberries and low-fat dressing, or—instead (not in addition)—a huge pile of steamed veggies* with pepper and parmesan cheese, and some chicken, turkey sausage or salmon on the side. Yes, I said “on the side”—Dr. Oz is right on this one. Do not cover your plate with meat.
*I have to give a shout-out to Ziploc Zip ‘n Steam bags here. I swear they aren’t paying me to say this, but honestly, all you have to do is chop up your veggies, stick them in the bag, and nuke it. Presto: they come out perfect every time. I’m thinking of submitting Ziploc steamer bags to the Pope as a miracle.
6. And finally, your nightly snack. Forget what everybody says about not eating past 8 p.m. or not eating for two hours before bedtime. I used to date Mr. Natural America (who is now in a nursing home, but still—these are time-honored ideas) so I know that it doesn’t matter when you eat: it’s how much you eat. So feel free to enjoy one of the following while you sit on the couch and watch TV: four individually packaged cups of Hunt’s Snackpack sugar-free pudding OR three fourths of a pint of any sorbet you like (sorry…not the whole thing). These are your only nighttime snack options; do not combine them.
7. IF you are still hungry as you trundle off to bed, if you’re wringing your hands thinking I won’t make it to morning, I know I won’t, boo-hoo, then eat a banana. I promise, a banana at bedtime will put you right to sleep.
You might have noticed that this eating plan contains very little cheese, very little bread, and few prepared products. Also: no butter, no oil, no added salt, no calorie-laden beverages. None of this might sound very appealing to you, but listen: when my inner thighs start to spark, that’s an S.O.S. to my mind saying, “Katie Jane, you ignorant slut! Put the pizza down and get on your treadmill!”
I just don’t want you to suffer through all that like I do.