Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle

By Jody Wallace

Recently, I kicked the lardy butt of a healthy writer milestone. Last year, to my great surprise, I reached my goal weight in Weight Watchers after a year of trying, and as of this week I've successfully hovered there for ten consecutive months. Booyah! My Weight Watchers clerk happily awarded me a wee gold key with the promise of more to come if I continue to work the program. Because you know the reason I did this was for the dangly bits to load onto my already gargantuan keychain.

Total loss of self during my adventure: I estimate I'm minus a leg. Or a really huge turkey. I dropped forty-five pounds, give or take, ignoring the time I crawled to check-in after a nasty stomach virus and clocked in at a fifty-pound deficit. (And incidentally, if this happens to you, do not go buy any awesome black pants and expect them to fit the following week when you’ve been able to keep down something other than crackers.)

Total loss of wardrobe: pretty much everything, and a certain really stupid pair of black pants. Even some shoes had to go, but I did get to keep the cool Halloween socks. (Oddly, despite the smaller sizes, my closet's still overcrowded. It’s magical that way.)

How did I do it and keep doing it? The trick was finding the proper fit (and clearly, it’s not those black pants). I tried any number of touted diets in my 20's and 30's to no avail. But then 40 stared me in the face with a contemptuous, Regency Duke sneer, and one of my local writer buds (Marie-Nicole Ryan) recommended Weight Watchers.

With a rude gesture at the Duke, I decided why not? It’s only money and the crushing disappointment of another calorific failure. So when I started to shrink, you could have knocked me over with a one-ounce piece of mozzarella cheese that's worth 2 points. I shrank and shrank
and suddenly I'd done it. I'd actually accomplished what I'd set out to do.

I mean, how often does THAT happen? Seriously. As writers we know we can't guarantee certain things we totally deserve, no matter how earnestly we strive or how creatively we curse the industry. However, a healthy writer journey doesn't end when you meet your goal. It never
ends, and you've got to find a way to live with that. You've got to stay motivated through thick and thin, which certainly applies here, don't you think?

Last year, paying the monthly fee motivated me because I hate to waste cash. Seeing the scales budge motivated me because I hate to waste time. Shopping for new clothes motivated me because...obviously. Now that my meetings and check-ins are free, now that the scales are
supposed to remain stable, now that my wardrobe has overflowed my closet again, everything has shifted around, and I don't mean my belly flab. (Which, incidentally, you should learn to love unless you plan on getting it surgically removed, because parts of you aren't going anywhere, but you'll be surprised how much skin you can squeeze into a pair of size OMG 6 jeans without looking like a sausage.)

Anyway, where was I? The thing is--this healthy writer journey isn't a diet. It's a lifestyle.

And here's where I'm going to draw what I feel is a stupendously clever parallel, so feel free to praise it in the comments. Finding your healthy writer body and keeping it is a lot like finding your healthy writer mind and keeping it.

Wait, you don't think that's stupendously clever? Let me explain. When you decide you want to be a writer (or to have a healthy body), you will probably struggle for a long time on a path that too often resembles a downward spiral. You might try this plan and that plan, you might join this group or that one (but not that other one, they’re total jerks). You might buy this book, take those classes, or go to that conference, and none of it might work for you.

You will have setbacks. You will get discouraged. You will want to eat the whole pie.

But eventually, once you figure out how your writer brain works--or how your writer's body works--you can dislodge the frozen scales. The needle will creep in the direction you want it to go, as long as you make sure what you're doing is a lifestyle, not a diet. You have to be
able to swing the loss of personal time, the rejections, the other rejections, the episodes of despair, the deadlines, the bad reviews, the ugly covers. You have to understand there will be industry professionals more interested in folks who mastered a different healthy writer program than the one that works for you. You have to accept the thick parts of being a writer with the thin parts, and you have to truly feel that the trade-off isn't a trade-off at all.

It's just you. Your life. You and your stories and your balance and your concealed excess belly flab in your size OMG 6 writer's jeans.

Check out Jody's Web site at for info on her, her books and the wonderful world of mean cats. :)


Theresa Ragan on October 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM said...

OMG, I LOVE this blog. Everything about it spoke to me. Jody, good job on the size 6 jeans! You are minus one leg, that is awesome. I have a Chihuahua that weighs 5 1/2 pounds so whenever someone loses weight I think of it in terms of little dogs. You lost nearly 10 Chihuahuas! Good for you!

And I can totally relate with the black pants you bought. I was really sick a few months ago and I lost 8 pounds. As soon as I could walk again I bought some jeans...jeans that are too small now. But it was fun while it lasted!

Also, you're right. Eating healthy is a way of life--not a trade-off. Now that I know what a healthy writer portion really looks like, I realize I'm not dieting, I'm just eating a normal amount of a little cake every once in a while.

Great post! Congratulations on the weight loss and to getting into OMG size 6 jeans! Very cool.

Kim Law on October 30, 2009 at 1:14 PM said...

Too funny, Jody!

Writer and Cat on October 30, 2009 at 1:33 PM said...

10 Chihuahuas....and 100 sticks of butter!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on October 30, 2009 at 2:15 PM said...

This post definitely has Jody's voice. :) It's been amazing to watch the changes from one monthly RWA chapter meeting to the next. Jody is looking fab!

LOL, Theresa, on thinking of weight in terms of Chihuahuas.

C.J. Redwine on October 30, 2009 at 3:09 PM said...

Awesome post! (Though now I'm cursed with the visual of Chihuahuas dropping off women's bodies left and right...)

Writer and Cat on October 30, 2009 at 3:29 PM said...

Hey, I'm like a Chihuahua Tribble! Or is that a Gremlin? Who fed me after midnight?

Lara on October 30, 2009 at 3:35 PM said...

Great post Jody! You are truly an inspiration. Rock on.

Marie-Nicole Ryan on October 30, 2009 at 3:51 PM said...

I'm very happy to have served as Jody's inspiration or kick in the butt. I think she really joined to prove WW wouldn't work for her. Quelle surprise!

As for how much I've lost--a 60lbs--that would be a decent sized Chow Chow.

Rae Ann Parker on October 31, 2009 at 11:02 AM said...

Great post, Jody! I love the parallel between healthy writer body & healthy writer brain.

Michelle Butler on October 31, 2009 at 12:07 PM said...

Congrats on all your success!!

How long before you could say it's a lifestyle and not a diet and really believe it? That took me quite a while.

Missy Lyons on November 1, 2009 at 1:22 PM said...

Great post, Jody. You inspire us all to do better. I might look into WW myself sometime soon. :)

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