Rib-eye steak topped with dark chocolate sauce and olives, and guacamole for dessert

I have decided to go with an eating plan that combines these concepts:

Low Carb:   Primarily lean protein and veggies … some complex carbs … eliminate simple carbs – sugar, white flour, etc. – for the most part.  I say for the most part because I expect a flour tortilla will sneak its way in there now and then.     Unbeknownst to me.

  • … I am reading a new book on the low-carb topic …”Why We Get Fat:  And What To Do About It”, Gary Taubes.  Thanks to my friend Laurie for the referral … Laurie has had significant success on this program so far.  Maybe she will send me pictures.  She can be the first inductee to the Fat to Fit in Our Fifties Hall of Fame.

MUFAs:  Monounsaturated fatty acids … the good fats — oils, avocados, dark chocolate, nuts.  In a nutshell, the Fat Belly, I mean Flat Belly, diet.  And this diet has my belly written all over it.  Supposedly, this diet has advanced target detection  to search out and destroy belly fat without any collateral damage to other fat, like boobs, I guess.  I hope.

6 Week Body Makeover:  6 small meals per day, primarily low carb but a bit of fruit, grains, starchy veggies, meals customized to body type to maximize metabolism, targeted exercise.  To do this I need to stock up on food on a regular basis, and then remember several times per day to eat it.  And also figure out how to use the suspiciously-deviant-looking targeted exercise device that came with the program.

Now I have enough of the general guidelines to manage writing a grocery list.  If only I had enough Xanax on hand to manage a trip to the grocery store.

My Commandments for Weight Loss Programs

Any weight-loss program on my planet must obey these Commandments to have a chance in Hell of success.

The program shall:

1.   Not require weekly purchases of freeze-dried chemical substances branded {Program} Cuisine masquerading as food.  Which are supplemented by weekly trips to the supermarket to buy actual food for actual nutrition.

2.  Not require me to purchase a membership to a gym where moms deposit SUV loads of excess mouth-breathing teenagers to pile into the weight rooms to gape at nicer-looking teenagers posing on the exercise equipment.

3.  Not include regular daily doses of fat-melting “vitamin supplement” capsules touting a secret metabolism-boosting ingredient just recently discovered deep in the remote rainforests of Costa Rica.  I have already hit the maximum number of drug and food interaction messages my pharmacist can print on one Rx label.

4.  Not include portable exercise equipment that I am free to use anytime in the comfort of my own home.  This assumes that [1] there is comfort in my own home and [2] I am free to use it at any time.   These assumptions are invalid.  I share my home with five or so outside cats,  Lily, a turbo-tailed Golden Retriever, and Lulu, an F5 tornado that resembles a bloodhound .

5.  Not have counselors who want to counsel me weekly on how to assure the program’s Maximum Effectiveness in support of my weight-loss goals.  I don’t like counseling.  It forces me  to sit and talk  to people I don’t know.  If I’m going to be forced to sit and talk to people I don’t know, I am going to do it in near proximity to a Margarita and a bartender on stand-by.

Step Three – Small Meals

3.  Eat 3 or so small meals per day (plus breakfast)

To accomplish this, I must have a Program consisting of menus made up of healthy and delicious food choices.  Perhaps recipes to build my own food choices.  Then I have to make grocery lists of ingredients.  And go to the grocery store and buy them.  And cook them.   All or any of which flies in the face of all of the Instant Gratification for which I stand.

Which program to follow?  Surely there is a magic program for me that will be easy to stick to, with decent food choices like Mexican food and croissants and linguine and sticky white rice and the occasional frosted brownie with ice cream.   Most importantly, it will feature super-fast weight loss results without any physical activity other than that required for food prep and consumption.

First, let’s refresh my memory of past pop-culture-diet experiences, so that in the future I will be able to recognize history repeating itself:

1.  Weight Watchers, 1982.

2.  Jenny Craig, early 90s.

3.  Atkins-ish low carb, 2002.

4.  Nutrisystem, 2006.

5.  Medi-Fast, 2011.

6.  Sensa, 2011.

7.  The 6-Week Body Makeover, 2011.

You can see that Year 2011, compared to prior years, was fairly productive for me  in terms of the number of different recipients of the hard-earned income I handed over in exchange for sheer crap.  In fact, it was my second best year ever.  The first best was the year that I got captured by eBay and made the prisoner of numerous amateur auctioneers trafficking in the Collectibles>Entertainment Memorabilia>Movie Memorabilia>Westerns>B-Westerns of the -30s and -40s>Singing Cowboys>Roy Rogers and Trigger category.

Next, whittle the list down to What Worked Or Is Most Likely To:

1.  Atkins-ish low carb:  A fairly easy and painless weight loss of about 20 lbs, helped along by daily gym workouts and the natural appetite-suppressing effects of domestic violence.  (more on that later)

2.  The 6-Week Body Makeover:  6 small meals per day, lean protein and green veggies, a little bit of fruit and some starchy vegetables allowed, some whole grain.  Plus a targeted exercise plan with a companion over-the-door-hanging exercise device that could double as movie prop in an S&M murder scene.  I liked this program.  The food allowed on it sounded like what I typically eat anyway.  And it came with a free toy.  So I ordered it.    And would have started it except that it conveniently arrived the week before Thanksgiving.

My analysis complete, I think I’m ready to pick my program and get going.  But I need to set some ground rules first.

Motivation is a Four-Letter Word

… on my planet, anyway.

In my dictionary, the word is something akin to a minor expletive …  a bit annoying to me, maybe slightly offensive, but lacking any real impact.    Except, unlike more universally acknowledged and stronger cuss words, which spice up my speech liberally and with gusto,  I can use it in conversation with my mother without a “Pardon my French” tossed in for whatever redemptive value she is willing to grant.

I’ve spent my fair share of years attributing inertia-cowardice on the self-help front to the motivation troops being AWOL  — “I would do this or that but I don’t have the motivation …”   —  A convenient prerequisite it is, the acknowledgement that I need to do something but I do not have to do it until a compelling external force — the waving of a magic wand,  sprinkling of fairy dust, a personal cheerleader, paratroopers to the rescue, whatever — comes along and makes me do it.  Or suddenly makes it fun, so that I willingly jump into it.   Until that happens, I am absolved of the heavy-lifting of “right”doing for myself that would significantly lighten the burdens and settle the concerns of living.

In this thinking pattern, it is enough for now just to recognize that I need to make life changes.   Step One Equals Done.  As long as I know what the needed changes are and am willing to commit to someday doing them, I’m satisfied with the Brownie points I give myself for creating the to-do list.   It’s sort of like lounging on my patio on a warm, sunny morning — windchimes faintly tinkling on a hint of breeze, suggesting that off in the distance somewhere, a good strong wind may be on the way, and if it comes it may have enough force to lift me and propel me on to do my farm chores.  In the meantime, I am happy to remain One with a wicker rocking chair, stroking a dozing cat, daydreaming about how nice the place will look after the chores are done.

As the word “motivation” relates to Fat to Fit at Fifty-Five , it doesn’t.  It can’t, or this latest attempt at achieving Change For My Own Good is just as doomed as attempts gone before.  Motivation doesn’t do anything.  It can offer desire or reason or incentive for doing, but it doesn’t do.

A need for motivation as a prerequisite to achieving better health is tantamount to basing the probability of my success on the coming true of a wish.  I have neither obligation nor responsibility.  Only if motivation comes will I be on the hook to deliver.  Until then, I have the approval of the cosmos for remaining content, stress-and-sweat-free, a cheerful party hostess bustling and chatting and refilling,  unperturbed by the absence of the Guest of Honor – Motivation – though fully cognizant that the Real Party won’t start until It shows up, with the ice cream.  Or tequila.

Not here, no more.  Motivation might get an invitation – it can liven things up, make fascinating conversation, play the piano or something – but the party goes on in full swing whether or not it decides to make an appearance.

Here  on my planet, there is deliberate action, placing of one foot in front of the other, shopping for and cooking and eating good food in healthy amounts, riding and other exercise, sunlight, fresh air, testing and adjusting routines to work against bad habits and build new good ones, striving, thriving.  I supply my own Tequila.

I do a lot of things without any motivation whatsoever — I just do them.  My horse buddies and I frequently commiserate on the topic “Why I Am So Not Motivated To Ride Today.”   Yet there we are at the stable together, whining and complaining and inventing fresh new excuses, but all the while grooming, tacking up, mounting, and finally, yes, riding.

All I need is the ability to move.  Or,  my word, “movitation.”

(If you invent your own planet, you can and should invent your own words.)

Step Two – Breakfast

2.  Goal:  Eat breakfast:   This is so not in my wiring, which is ”eat only when hungry.”  Due to my nearly perpetual state of starvation, I am usually nauseous first thing in the morning.   I would rather have nausea with an empty stomach than nausea mixed with food.  I don’t have time to deal with  consequences from the latter when I am trying to get myself and the farm ready for me to go to work.

a.  Do now:    Look around at various eating programs and find breakfast menus that sound like they would be appetizing for lunch or dinner.

b.  Do now:  Change the weekday morning routine so that there is plenty of time to eat breakfast,  way way after I first get up out of bed, but in time to get to work reasonably on time after morning toiletries and farm chores.   This requires more Planning.  And Getting Up Out Of Bed Earlier.  Holy moly, changing the Do Date for this one to Do by Feb 1, 2012.

c.  Do by Jan 15, 2012:  Build the habit of eating breakfast on weekends.   It doesn’t have to be in the morning though, just eat breakfast menu items anytime of the day on Saturday and Sunday so that I can say I am eating breakfast now.

d.  Do by Feb 15, 2012:  Implement eating breakfast menus on all weekday mornings during the time that normal people eat breakfast.

Next, more on the research, contemplation and dreading of various eating plans before heading into Step 3, eat smaller meals …

Master Plan, Part Three, Step One – White Sugar

1.  Goal:  Eliminate white sugar:   Without a doubt, I am not up for cold-turkeying this one.   Keeping in mind that the only use I have for white sugar is in coffee,  I opt for a gentle weaning:

a.  Do now:  Stop buying white sugar.  Not so hard, just don’t walk down the sugar/flour/spice aisle in the grocery store anymore.  Which is also not so hard, because I am phobic about grocery shopping and carts and grocery store people,  and I am up for just about anything that reduces the time I spend in the grocery store.  Unless of course the sugar/flour/spice aisle is also the coffee aisle.  Then I’m screwed.  Until I remember that there is a Starbucks somewhere else inside the grocery store, and, mercifully, near an exit.  Phew, close one.

Aside:  Don’t worry about the storehouse of white sugar that I currently have on hand.  I will use it up, somehow.

b.  Do by Jan 20, 2012:  Replace white sugar in coffee with Splenda/Sugar mix.   This is the “Coffee B” in my Weekly Food and Activity Journal …  I discovered Splenda/Sugar recently, along with Splenda/Brown sugar.  It doesn’t have the bitter, chemical-waste taste of other artifical sweeteners and it has the texture of sugar so I can fool myself when I’m shoveling it out of the sugar bowl into the coffee mug.

c.  Do by Feb 1, 2012:  Replace the Splenda/Sugar mix with pure Splenda.  This will be yucky but not as yucky as if I had gone straight from sugar to straight artificial.  If I can without too much more psychosis than I already suffer, I will skip this and go straight to d.

d.  Do by Feb 15, 2012:  Eliminate the Splenda and drink coffee that is not sweetened at all.  This will take an Act of God.  But since I trust that He is on board with the general ideas that excess refined sugar is bad for me, and that a smaller body is good for me, He will come through.

                                                            .

Next up, 2.  Eat breakfast.

Water

For general good hydration and efficient fat flushing, I simply need to drink more water.

Except out here in The Country, is it not that simple.  Sometimes there is no water here to drink.  (Yes, I can buy bottled water.  I don’t.  My well water is great.  When I can get to it.)

A water outage has occurred on my ranch when I turn on a faucet and no water comes out.     The two primary causes of water outages at my ranch are:

1.  I live on a well that has very low production, and/or

2.  I am stupid.

When outages happen, I first look for telltale evidence of stupidity.  This would typically be in the form of a faucet turned in the full on position, and a pond appearing nearby somewhere where there wasn’t a pond yesterday. If I find this, I turn the faucet to the off position and wait a few days.  Then, like magic,  I have water again. That magic has to do with the well filling a water storage tank instead of the new pond.

If I can’t find such evidence , I launch the Water Emergency Response Plan, as follows:

[1]  Take a full hit of Xanax.   It is needed for Step 2.

[2] I call Dennis, the Water Pump Dude.  He will first ask me over the phone if the green light on the pump controller is on or off.  I ask him which thingie is the pump controller again?  He says try shutting off the power at the panel and turning it back on again.  I ask him where the panel is.  And what the panel is.  He says never mind, he will come over right away.

Dennis arrives sometime in the next day or so.  He looks and sounds like Nick Nolte, weatherbeaten in a ruggedly handsome way, a bit twitchy and hyper. When he tells me that my well production is down to ¼ gal per minute, which is your basic trickle, I thank God for Xanax. Then when he tells me he can sell me a bigger water storage tank, I thank God again and then ask Him to send down some big tank money when He gets the chance.

Then Dennis says he will witch the property to find water in case I need to sink another well.  He picks up what looks likes a set of skinny handlebars made of copper, holds them out in front of him, and starts lurching around the property in full twitch, appearing as though he is trying to strongarm his way through a minefield on a nervous and jerky invisible motorcycle with a mind of its own.

“I don’t get nothin’ at your well site,” Dennis announces after several minutes of witchin’.  I  say “Really.”

After several more minutes, Dennis says he  “likes” an area for water in another spot, which, coincidentally, is the corner of my property nearest to where my neighbor’s well is located.   “This really works?” I ask.  He says, “I have been witchin’ water for well drilling companies for years, only called it wrong about 5 times.”  Since calling it wrong can mean hundreds of feet of $30-50 per vertical foot of wasted drilling, I’d prefer to hear he has never called it wrong, at all, ever.

Sometime during the witchin’, the well pump magically turns itself on and starts running again.  So naturally, Dennis can’t find anything wrong with the well or the pump or whatever thingie, so he replaces a switch or some other thingie and charges me $80.   No charge for the witchin’.

[3] With the well pump pumping water again, it will take approximately 167 hours (at 1/4 gal per minute) to fill the 2500 gal storage tank, so I call the El Dorado Water and Shower Company and ask them if they can deliver drinking water and they say yes, for a fee. When they tell me how much it costs, I type up a letter to my tenant roommate telling them the rent is going up.

[4] Each time I use water, I start counting. When I get to 60 (seconds), I have used 10 gallons of stored water if I have the water on full blast. So when I am filling the horses’ water troughs, which take about 5 minutes each when they are ½ full, I have used, what, 100 gallons?  Who knows.   No worries, since I am not very good at math when I am under the influence of Carol’s Little Helper, another hit of which I took about 30 minutes before I headed out to fill water troughs..

[5] I counsel the horses and dogs on conserving water.  I tell them “Do not play in the water anymore. Water is only for drinking. Any animals caught playing in water will go to bed without their cookie.”   I watch while one dog nods in agreement, then runs directly over to his water tub, jumps in, and then does the head-to-toe-dog-shimmy thing, and then invites another dog into the tub to play with him.   (The dogs were both German Shepherds.  You know, the breed known for keen intelligence.  Not known as water dogs.)

[6] I teach my animals to understand English.

[7] I flush only when absolutely necessary. Whatever that means.  Note:  Having acreage means you can pee just about anywhere you want.  I learned that from my nephew Matt when he visited the ranch at 4 years old and went around peeing everywhere, in apparent delight at the discovery that he had his own equipment conveniently at hand just for that purpose.

[8] I stop mopping floors inside the house. Oh wait, that won’t save water unless I am in the habit of mopping my floors. Never mind.

[9a] I do my laundry at the Laundromat. It is very fun and challenging. I practice my Spanish with other laundromatites while I am waiting for them to free up some washers. I also read the National Enquirer another laundomatite left behind and am not embarrassed at all, since I  didn’t buy it …

[9b] … and I get all of my laundry done at once, not the load-here-load-there thing I do at home that causes laundry to exist in several different states and places:  Clean and dumped on the bed, ½ clean hanging on the bedpost (I can wear it again, depending), ½ clean in the hamper (still clean enough for barn chores), and totally dirty. Laundry in the totally dirty state is located either [1] in the hamper or [2] on the floor immediately after the clean-and-dumped-on-the-bed state, after a dog jumped on the bed and knocked the laundry pile to the floor. Once laundry touches the floor anywhere in the house, its state immediately goes straight to totally dirty, period.  I can’t make it go to the ½ clean state first,  I would just be fooling myself. Unless I just mopped the floor about 5 seconds ago. Which, per #8, was when Hell froze over.