The great grain-free reboot: a thirty-one-day challenge

“You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven today and we don’t know where she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres

The great grain-free reboot. A 31 day challenge - www.alliepottswrites.com #healthylivingI recently experienced the joy that is the annual check-up at the doctor’s office. After sitting for some unknown period of time under a piece of paper thinner than the stuff I blow my nose with, my doctor entered the room and took a look at my chart. “Have you been exercising?”

I don’t know why she felt the need to ask as we both knew the answer to that question. I’d seen what number appeared on the scale minutes prior and though I have let my hair grow long since my last appointment and was wearing boots at the time, I’m pretty sure those two things combined didn’t weigh enough to fully account for the difference. But I could be wrong. My hair is quite thick after all.

“Yeah, well I kinda sorta stopped going to the gym.” My gym had upped their monthly fee from only an arm and a leg to the whole thing. Being fired by my personal trainer hadn’t helped either (some people are simply un-trainable). “But I regularly take the dog for walks and I do have to run after two boys.”

My doctor raised an eyebrow. Admittedly, I could have found another gym that charged less for a monthly membership, but I’d rationalized, not only would I save money, I had more time for writing this way. (The sacrifices I make for my art)! Besides, walking the solid mass of muscle and squirrel-lurcher-extraordinaire that is my dog, Her Royal Highness, often results in a full body workout.

My doctor put her pen down and made full eye contact. Never a good sign. “You know, after thirty, your metabolism slows down drastically.”

I grimaced. I’d passed that particular milestone … er … it doesn’t matter how long ago – just accept it happened. Okay?

fruit crustini - www.alliepottswrites.com
How I got to where I am – Exhibit A

My doctor didn’t have to say anything more. I knew what she meant. After a winter of excess, it was time to do some damage control. I was going to have to be mindful of what I ate again. In other words – may God have mercy on all my friends, family, and co-workers.

While I agree that lifestyle changes are more effective in the long-term, I decided to kickstart my rebooted effort with a thirty-day (or in this case thirty-one-day) challenge. I announced to the hubby that for the month of March, I would go grain-free, thereby forcing myself to eat more veggies, while still allowing me the occasional bit of sugar (and let’s be honest – a glass or two of wine).

To his credit, my hubby decided to take on a dietary challenge too, choosing to go the ketogenic route or keto for short.

I wasn’t familiar with the ketogenic diet at the time, but now, after a week into our individual challenges, I can say that I believe the butter and egg lobby groups got together to cook this one up and maybe the avocado group too as evidenced by the empty egg cartons that keep appearing on my countertop as if by magic and the wall-o-butter packages that now fill my fridge’s dairy compartment. From my perspective, it seems to be a lot of work (so many labels to read), but we are finding there is enough overlap between the two to keep each other honest.

So far, the kids haven’t noticed we’re doing anything different. They have homemade pizza. We have homemade pizza (albeit with a tapioca and cheese based crust which proved to be pretty yummy and crisper than the cauliflower kind I’d tried before). They have tacos. We have tacos. Okay, ours were more of a taco salad as the “super easy” zucchini tortillas I attempted to prepare for the adults proved to be more dip than a shell (that may have had something to do with the lack of eggs when it came time to make them – see above).

And is it working? One week in and I’m down two and a half pounds, while the hubby has dropped somewhere closer to six. I’d say he is an overachiever, but he can lose that much just from skipping a soda now and then. (Guys, seriously, that is so unfair).

But just as importantly I have yet to take my grain deprived frustrations out on an unsuspecting co-worker or loved one (at least, not that I’m aware of). So that’s a plus.

Will that continue to be the case, or will the news coming out of the city of oaks include a crazed woman demanding spaghetti? Will I soon be able to pass as Cookie Monster’s understudy? Or will the next several chapters of my current WIP include excessive references to cake? Only time will tell. I’m posting this to help me stay accountable. But one thing is for sure – a month from now, with any luck, I hope you’ll be seeing less of me.

Final food for thought (aka related reading)

Temptation makes victory taste ever more sweet

There they lay, within reach, and yet to do so was entirely forbidden. It would be so easy, I told myself. All I had to do was open up one of kiddo’s packaged snacks from the basket in the pantry and chew. All those delicious salty treats were mine for the taking. But I’d made a promise to myself to limit my carb intake, particularly over the next thirty days, as the scale had taken issue with my summer beach excesses.

“She’d started taking up a lot of bad habits”, I imagined its snide electronic voice justifying itself to my toothbrush and my towel as they discussed my morning routine. “You both just help her stay hygienic. I, however, am helping her make better lifestyle choices.” I am sure both towel and brush would roll their eyes if they had them, but that awful scale had a point. I had enjoyed my summer a wee bit too much and it was starting to show.

You know what the secret to weight loss is? Don’t eat much.” – Simon Cowell
(Gee thanks, Simon)

It came to a head one Tuesday evening. There, on the table, were all the fixings for tacos which had become our weekly staple since the Lego Movie first introduced the children to the concept of Taco Tuesday. A pair of tortillas waited for me to add lettuce, beef, and cheese, with a dollop of yogurt just as I had done the Tuesday before and the Tuesday before that.

“After today I am going to limit my sugar and bread for awhile,” I announced to the hubby. “At least for the next thirty days.” Lamont looked at his own plate and agreed to support me by doing the same. We both were in the mood to change up the dietary cycle. We wouldn’t cut it out altogether, we agreed, as that was next to impossible seeing as both ingredients were hidden in way too much. To avoid them altogether would involve *gasp* actually reading labels. But we would try not to intentionally consume either.

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy. I’d gotten into a habit of having a bit of ice cream in the evening after tucking the boys in their beds. A reward for successfully surviving another day. Suddenly I was out my reward. The cravings started to chip away at my resolve.

“Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” – Sam Levenson

Brilliantly (at least in our opinion), we decided to make our own dessert. We had plenty of plain greek yogurt in the fridge. Add a few berries and some honey and poof. Instant ice cream substitute. We even added a little cinnamon to give it a bit more pizzaz!

And other meal times took on a bit more excitement as we managed to break away from our weekly routine, replacing the stand-bys with things like zucchini pasta or eggs poached inside an avocado. This whole “sacrifice” wasn’t one.

Then my mom’s birthday came along with a visit by my sister. After a celebratory dinner, the smell of a fruit pie tempted my nose. A bit more of my resolve chipped away. But still, I remained strong, empowered by what I had accomplished before. There was nothing to this goal. Or so I thought until I entered the final days of my self-imposed thirty-day challenge.

Then the air began to change. Fall has arrived and with it will be the assault on my senses that is pumpkin spice. I do so love the smell of Fall. If you listen very carefully, you might yet hear the sound of my scale crying. If my resolve started out as a mighty oak tree, it is now only a splinter of its former self.

“What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.” Franklin P. Jones

A friend of mine suggested I read Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art in which the author theorizes that our brains are somehow wired to resist completing goals. While I haven’t yet read the book (though fully intend to) I can’t help thinking he might be on to something. I was so close to writing End of Book Two in this current draft, and yet my characters keep drawing out the action. No matter how much I wrote, there was still more to do. More to say.

It was so very tempting to simply type THE END before the story is ready and short circuit the process. And if I did? Would it really matter? This is not my final draft. I’ll be rewriting an editing next. I could grab those chips as well. One small bag on day 29 isn’t going to make a difference in the scheme of things. Who would know?

I would.

And so, while my resolve may only be a splinter, that splinter wedged itself deeply under my skin. I can’t ignore it. I can’t make a move without feeling its pain.

And so, I stood fast over these final few days. What’s a couple hundred more words compared to the many I’ve written thus far? Certainly not enough to lose heart now. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until the words END OF BOOK TWO were no longer words in my head but words on a screen. Yes. You read that right. This draft is finished. Now on to round two.

I pull back from the pantry and fixed a salad instead. It might not taste quite as good to my sugar biased tastes, but victory continues to be more satisfying.


As a reminder, I will be on the air Friday, September 23rd at 6pm Eastern time. The link to follow is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writestream/2016/09/23/the-speculative-fiction-cantina-with-madeleine-holly-rosing-and-allie-potts