Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dieting and Writing: The Link

Dieting and Writing:  The Link

I will lose fifteen pounds by spring.

I will write one thousand words a day—or more—so that I beat my deadline by three months.

Dieting and writing are two things I think about way too much.  Thinking about these two topics is probably a good thing.  I need to be conscious of what I eat and how much and I need to be conscious of what I write and how much.  I need to reflect daily on the quality of both what goes into my mouth and what goes onto the page.  Meeting these goals should be easy with this kind of conscientiousness, right?


In terms of dieting, I seem to gain and lose the same seventeen pounds every single year.  Last year was supposed to be different.  I was supposed to lose the weight and through conscious eating, diet, and exercise, I was supposed to keep it off.  The holidays approached.  I wouldn’t fall into the same traps.  But a trip to the emergency room where I received the somber news that my gall bladder needed to come out threw me off course.  I would have to eat differently until I lost the organ that processed fats and bile so that meant, in my mind, all bets were off.  What does one eat when they can’t eat fats?  CARBS!  And lots of them.  Carbopalooza began in earnest and slowly but surely, the weight started to creep back.  The good news is that I only allowed myself a three-pound gain over the month before I reined myself back in.  The bad news?  No more carbs for the foreseeable future and I need carbs.  Without them, I turn into a very bleak, very sad person.

As for the writing part, I also set goals.  A thousand words a day.  Every day.  No exceptions.  Unless of course I see a cobweb up in the rafters of my office.  Got to get the vacuum!  Got to vacuum that up!  And the cat litter…that needs to be changed.  Oh, there’s laundry?  I must do that, too.  While I’m at it, let’s eat a bag of pretzels…wait! I can’t have carbs.

See where I’m going with this? 

Dieting and writing are not all-or-nothing propositions.  Sure, it would be great if I could get the last ten pounds off while keeping the first seventeen off (and writing a thousand words a day) but that’s a long-term goal.  It won’t happen overnight, so the best course of action is to set a short-term goal for myself.  “This week, I’ll write down what I eat and exercise three days.  Next week, I’ll reassess.”  Same with writing.  If I wrote one thousand words per day, well, then it would only take me two and a half months to write a book which would give me lots of free time to vacuum up cobwebs.  And as we all know, it takes a heck of a lot longer to write a book than that.  It’s usually around a year because I owe my publisher one book a year.  I’ve never beaten a deadline but I sure as heck have almost blown one or five.
So while last year was the year of Zen Maggie—a spectacular failure if the stressed looks on my children’s faces are any indication—this year is the year of Attainable Goal Maggie. The year in which we finally figure out how to eat the elephant (hint:  one bite at a time) and never bite off more than we can chew or set goals that are unattainable and thus make us feel like constant failures.

Who’s with me?  And who hid the pretzels?

Maggie Barbieri


  1. LOL! And oh my gosh you just blogged my sorry existence!!!!

    While I wish I could jump on your attainable goal train (and I'll say I will and I'll fall off inside two days), I like carbs way too much. :)

  2. You sound just like me! ;o) This is the year of Organized Marie...and while I'm still working on that, I have at least broken both my fitness and writing goals into smaller goals within the big ones so they don't sneak up on me. The month of January went very well in these departments, so now it's time to make February work just as well.

    I feel your pain on the carbs - good luck!

  3. Laura, as you could see from our lunch yesterday, I haven't given up carbs completely!

    WriterMarie, good luck to you, too! Breaking things up into smaller goals seems to be the ticket. Here's hoping it works for both of us. Maggie

  4. Oh, gosh, I keep aiming for 1,000 words a day, too...and, yep, I've already stopped to vacuum today and do laundry (and go to the grocery store and follow my husband to the car place so he could drop off his Mustang). As for weight, I'm seeing numbers on my doctor's scale (I refuse to have a scale at home) that I've never seen before in my life with this pregnancy. And, guess what? I'm just going with the flow. Kind of like with my writing. Striving for attainable over Zen sounds very reasonable. Right now, I'm aiming for "finish the darned book" and "keep ankles from swelling too much." Surely, I can at least manage that. ;-)

    P.S. Can't wait till you get that darned gall bladder out! In the meantime, remember, bland is grand.

  5. Oh, Maggie. You crack me up! Sorry to hear about the ER and everything--that's no fun at all. I tend to set my goals super high and then beat myself up when I don't achieve them. No fun for anyone in my house. I'm sure we could all use a little more Zen.

  6. No dieting for me, but I am thinking about not eating wheat. Daughter has quit and says she feels great. I love wheat sour dough--will finish the loaf we have first.

    Fun post is some ways.


  7. Love your post...Eat less,and exercise more :) Isn't dusting exercising? And you work on your book in your head, Right? Now if only I would listen to me...

  8. Meredith, good luck tapping into Zen Meredith. She's in there! I promise.

    Marilyn, let me know if you go cold turkey on the wheat. What are the health benefits exactly?

    Lil, dusting is exercising. As is grocery shopping. :-) Maggie

  9. That was way too close to home, Maggie. But fun to read and I wish you luck with all your goals.

  10. Life without carbs isn't worth living - eat the pretzels!