Friday, March 22, 2013

Naturally Thin

Well, it's official: I went to Farrell's last night and was photographed (in a sports bra and booty shorts) and measured (arm, thigh, waist, hips, bust).  It was not as mortifying as I thought it would be, but since the head coach and I were chatting the whole time I was getting my picture taken, I can't remember if I made myself look as awful as I possibly could.  I hope I did...  In addition, I am fully anticipating for maximum mortification tomorrow when I have to step on the scale and get my percentage of body fat measured.

Woo hoo.

After Farrell's tomorrow, I plan on coming home to analyze the nutrition plan that they recommend, mapping out my weekly meal plan, and going grocery shopping.  The official start to The New Emily will begin on Sunday, March 24th.

To prep, though, I've been going crazy with some reading.  First, I piled up all of my old healthy living magazines (mostly Fitness and Shape with a couple of Women's Health and Runner's World mixed in) and tore out all of the recipes that I thought The Boy and I might like.

I then put the recipes in paper-protectors and clipped them into my recipe binder for reference when I go to make the meal plan tomorrow.

In addition to flipping through magazines, I finally started reading Naturally Thin: Unleash Your Skinnygirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting by Bethenny Frankel.  I think I bought this book probably three years ago (when I was in the middle of my RHONY obsession) and then just let it collect dust on my bookshelf.

In retrospect, that was a bad idea.

I'm halfway through the book, and I really like what I have read thus far.  While some reviews that I've read mention that the book seems to focus on individuals with disordered eating and a totally skewed view in regards to food, I would disagree.  While some of what she says seems very obvious, much of it is exactly what many of us need to hear in order to change how we view food - both as individuals and as a society.

The first half of the book was split into ten chapters, one for each "rule" that Bethenny has developed in regards to diet.  These "rules" just make sense.
  1. Your diet is a bank account: "Just as you balance your spending and your savings, you must balance your food choices.  Don't eat too much of any one thing, don't eat the same thing twice, balance starches with proteins, vegetables and fruits with sweets, and always balance a splurge with a save.  [...]  Make smart investments that will be good for your body and will make you feel better" (21-22).  In this chapter she also talks about food noise (negative inner food dialogue) vs. food voice (inner dialogue that tells you what you truly need) and the "point of diminishing returns" (the point where food stops being enjoyable - usually after two or three bits).
  2. You can have it all, just not all at once: "You are incredibly lucky to live in a country with so much food, and you have the opportunity to pick and choose what you want to eat.  [...]  Life is about checks and balances, and so is being naturally thin" (34-35).  Essentially, Bethenny discusses not ordering the cheeseburger and the French fries and the milkshake but maybe ordering one of those items to pair with a healthier option (i.e. lean meat or salad or iced tea).
  3. Taste everything, eat nothing: "At its heart, this rule helps you to taste little bits of all the delicious foods you want, without eating too much of any one thing" (43).  First, she recommends "spoiling your appetite" before going to a party by eating something hearty like a salad with lots of vegetables.  Then, you can sample many different things at the party without overindulging since you'll likely be quite full already.  In addition, she recommends "switching lanes" to avoid eating too much of a good thing: instead of eating five Thin Mints (not like I'm speaking from experience or anything...), eat one Thin Mint and then maybe some almonds.  If you're still craving another Thin Mint or two, go ahead and have them, but make sure you're making the conscience decision to do so.  
  4. Pay attention: "It's so easy to eat mindlessly without paying attention to what foods we choose, or to how they taste.  But to eat consciously changes all that.  It makes food an event, and worth the calories" (53).  I am so guilty of this one.  The Boy and I often make dinner and then eat on the couch while watching TV.  Or, I might eat lunch at my desk while surfing through blogs or grading papers or planning lessons.  If we actually take the time to pay attention to and savor what we are eating (and with whom we are eating), we are more likely to make good choices and, actually, feel full.
  5. Downsize now: "Downsizing allows you to eat anything you want, and that is incredibly freeing.  [...]  Overeating is often a product of feeling deprived.  [...]  There is never any reason to eat a huge oversized portion of anything.  There is never any reason to stuff yourself until you feel sick" (64).  In this chapter Bethenny discusses the issue that this country has with portion-control.  One of her solutions is to serve food differently: for example, use salad plates as dinner plates; use rice bowls for cereal; use ramekins for ice cream; etc.
  6. Cancel your membership in the Clean Plate Club: "If you eat what you want to eat but leave some, you won't feel deprived, and you'll also be exercising your own will: you decide you've had enough, so you stop before it's all gone.  [...]  Think of it this way: eating a whole huge plate of food because you 'hate to waste' is a waste of you" (84-85).  This is a tough rule to follow for those of us who grew up cleaning our plates, but Bethenny offers a few suggestions: share your food, save your food, or leave your food.  I particularly liked the "share your food" option, as it fosters a sense of togetherness and saves money: at a restaurant, two people order an appetizer, a side, a salad or soup, and an entree to share.  This suggestion also allows individuals to follow Rule #3.
  7. Check yourself before you wreck yourself: "If you are eating what you want, there is never a reason to binge, so just stop.  [...]  I quite my bad habit by recognizing that it's OK to eat, but it's not OK to hurt myself with food.  [...]  Binges take days to correct, they are very hard on your body, and they stress you out mentally and emotionally" (93-95).  Essentially, this chapter is about taking care of your body by allowing it small bites of whatever you want (not depriving yourself) so that you do not go on an all-out binge.  In addition, Bethenny stresses that if you "mess up" (as we all do) and eat too much, that there should be no punishment.
  8. Know thyself: "You are the one in control - not the food, and not any kind of diet.  It's all about you, and you call the shots" (102).  Here, Bethenny talks about the need to "write your own rules" about eating rather than being confined by gurus' demands.  In addition, she talks about being prepared by planning meals ahead of time and even prepackaging meals and snacks, and she talks about the importance of staying hydrated as a method to control hunger.
  9. Get real: "If food comes in a package, you generally want to avoid it.  [...]  Real food doesn't come in a package.  It doesn't have a label.  And it's obvious, when you look at it, what it is: a banana, a chicken, a freshly baked loaf of bread" (114).  It shouldn't be too difficult to discern what this chapter is about: don't eat processed food, and eat local, seasonal, and organic as much as possible.  In addition, Bethenny stresses that in general, the more colorful a food is, the healthier it is.  So, arugula, kale, and spinach are more nutrient-rich than iceberg and romaine.  Whole-wheat bread and brown rice are healthier than white bread and white rice.
  10. Good for you: "Being overweight isn't good for you, nor is being obsessive but being naturally thing - whatever naturally thin is, for you and your body - is good for you.  [...]  Remember, food isn't your best friend, and it isn't your enemy.  It's just food.  It's no big deal.  You are the big deal, and you deserve to be healthy, strong, and thin" (130).  In this chapter she discusses important things like exercise, sleep, meditation, and participating in life - socializing, going out with friends, eating at restaurants, etc., all of which is possible through the aforementioned rules.  Most importantly, Bethenny emphasizes the need to LOVE YOURSELF.
I heart her.
Here are a couple of random quotes that stuck out to me.  Yes, they can be quite "direct," but I'm okay with that:
  • "You are the only one responsible for what you put into your mouth" (33).  
  • "Food doesn't just fall onto your body and make you fat; you are the one who makes the decision to eat it - and eat more and more and more of it" (64).
  • "It's great to have friends, a family, a life partner who care about you - sure.  But none of that is going to work very well if you don't care about yourself first.  Put yourself and your own needs ahead of everything else, and you'll begin to see why this is the only way you can then turn around and be a good friend, a good family member, a good parent, a good partner.  Loving yourself has to be at the very heart of everything you do" (138).
I really like that Bethenny emphasizes that this is not a diet diet.  She stresses that diets are generally very limiting and almost oppressive and that we should be in control of our bodies to know what we need and when we need it, not for some "guru" to tell us to eat six ounces of chicken NOW.  She discusses the importance of not measuring or counting calories but rather simply eating what you need, when you need it.

I believe that I personally need to map out my food ahead of time and truly watch the calories that I am eating - at least for now.  I don't think that I currently have the knowledge and/or self-control to totally disregard those things at this point in time.  Hopefully I will get there, and hopefully that will be soon.  So, while I will certainly keep her ten rules in mind while participating in Farrell's, I will also follow their nutritional plan to make the most of my ten-week program.

More on that - tomorrow.  :)

What are your thoughts on Bethenny's "rules"?  What do you view as most important when figuring out your meal plan?


  1. I will never forget when I realized, toward the end of my active weight-loss period, that my "diet," wasn't really a diet. I was going to be eating chicken, fish, and veggies and avoiding processed foods for the rest of my life. The only difference, once I hit my maintenance phase, is that I can still indulge in whatever I want now (as opposed to when I was actively trying to lose weight and couldn't stray from the diet plan much), just not all the time or as much as I want.

    I've never been able to maintain weight loss before. But I have been maintaining (and actually losing more as I've become more physically fit) for almost 2 years now. In addition to always eating light and healthy for the most part (and "balancing" when I don't, like Bethenny said in one of the quotes), I am always planning, thinking, and making choices about my food intake and exercise; I have come to realize that--while not fair--I will never be able to just go through life and not think about those things. My health and my weight are based on a series of conscious decisions I make every day--and it will always be that way.

    But I'm okay with that, because I feel strong and fit and GOOD. And I am adamantly opposed to going back to the weight, lifestyle, and unhappiness (because of my weight/health) that I subjected myself to for the first 25 years of my life.

    Good luck! Everyone's journey is different, but I know you can do this and will feel so much better for it!

    1. Natalie,

      I love this. You are such an inspiration.