Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pretty Lady's rapid weight-loss programme

Hello, Paula!

Paula, dear Paula, wise-and-mature-beyond-her-years Paula, believes that she has thirty pounds to lose. Pretty Lady is not entirely sure that such is the case. Pretty Lady, herself, in distant days, clung to the notion that if she just lost five more pounds, her hips would become boyish and slender. In latter days she came to accept her fate as a shapely female person, but occasionally, at dim moments, would grasp at the fantastic concept that losing fifteen pounds would eradicate her belly, and thigh dimples, and cause her commitment-phobic boyfriend to propose. Pretty Lady, unfortunately, has not been immune to the cultural brainwashing inflicted by a well-intentioned subscription to Seventeen magazine at a tender age.

Be this as it may, there was once a time when Pretty Lady lost twenty-five pounds, completely inadvertantly. This surprise weight loss occurred at a point in her life when she was utterly accepting of her own figure, no matter the poundage; she happened to be dating a man who simply loved women, as women, and not as machettes of twelve-year-old boys. Additionally, she made the post-ballet discovery that putting on a few pounds not only gave her a figure, but lessened the Jimmy Stewart horsiness of her face, inherited from her father's side of the family (dear Jimmy was a second cousin), and caused her to suddenly resemble her mother, a woman universally acknowledged to be uncommonly stunning.

However, for a few years Pretty Lady got lazy. She stopped going out dancing until three AM, and hung out in Valencia St. bars drinking pints of Red Hook ESB instead. She moved to a house which pretty much required the constant use of a car, being so far out in a dangerous neighborhood that taking the bus was tantamount to taking one's life in one's hands. One morning she woke up and realized she just felt blah.

So, purely in the interests of perking up in a spiritual sense, and not for any sexual-aesthetic reason, Pretty Lady discovered how to lose twenty-five pounds, more or less by accident. What follows are some general guidelines, which you may mix and match according to your temperament.

1. Do yoga.

Yoga, by and large, will not directly help a person lose weight. It does, however, gently balance and nourish the body as a whole, thus relieving pain, toning the system, helping to release toxins, and getting you in shape to tackle a more-rigorous workout.

If you are having trouble standing up out of chairs, if your back hurts constantly, and you cannot touch your toes, it is best to start with Basic Hatha. This will involve moving slowly into mildly contorted poses, and learning how to breathe. Select a teacher who explains things clearly, is anatomically knowledgeable, and does not shame you.

If you are already able to touch your toes, or if you do not suffer from chronic pain and are in relatively competant cardiovascular shape (i.e. you do not start puffing heavily while climbing two flights of stairs), you may start with Bikram. Bikram is the fabled Hot Yoga sequence, popularized by Madonna and Gwyneth. It is a series of twenty-four poses, performed in a sauna-temperature studio, which are designed to flush the entire body of toxins, stimulate each body system in turn, and take years off your age.

Pretty Lady can attest that it works. After her first class, she experienced quite a dramatic toxic--well, this does not bear description. After her first two weeks of classes, she looked five years younger. After her first six months of classes, she was bored silly. Pretty Lady is a dancer by temperament, and repeating the same damn series of poses every day drives her bananas.

So she moved on to Vinyasa. Vinyasa Yoga is basically Hatha, but a bit more challenging, rigorous, and movement-oriented. A good Vinyasa teacher will have you puffing and doing acrobatic stunts in no time.

2. Work out.

If a person is serious about shedding spiritual poundage, however, more than yoga is required. Once you have done enough yoga so that you can stand on one foot and pull the opposite ankle up to your behind without thinking much about it, you may move on to a more cardiovascular workout.

By far the cheapest and easiest of these is running. Running merely requires a good pair of shoes and a world to run in. If you are not enlightened yet, the world is in front of you; do not skimp on the shoes. Good arch supports are a must. Buy another pair of shoes every six months, whether you think you need them or not. Pretty Lady can attest to the horrors attendant upon working out in bad shoes.

Unfortunately, running is also the sport which causes the greatest amount of wear and tear on the limbs, as Pretty Lady can also attest. If you are over thirty, have flat feet, dicey knees, chronic back pain, or wish to avoid these things, take up biking instead. It doesn't give you either such a dependable endorphin high or quick physiological transformation, but in the long term it allows you to keep your ability to walk.

Speaking of walking: do it. Every day, at every decent opportunity. Take the stairs. Pop round to the corner store. Stroll up to the lake, or round the park. Visit the neighbors. Fie on this driveway-office-driveway-supermarket-driveway culture. Fie, I say.

It is important to discover a workout which gives you joy. If you love swimming, swim. If you love dancing, dance. If you love hiking, biking, fencing, kickboxing, tennis--well, there you go. If you love beating the shit out of people, there are innumerable martial arts studios springing up everywhere.

3. Watch what you eat.

Pretty Lady is not fond of the Denial attitude toward diet. Proscriptions are depressing and ultimately unsustainable. Surrounding your mental landscape with a forest of 'no's' is not, in her opinion, the best way to cultivate a sense of spiritual freedom, joy and possibility.

Instead, concentrate on adding healthy, wonderful, fresh, nutrious, organic foods to your diet. Focus on fresh organic vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fish. Go out of your way to use organic extra-virgin olive oil. Variety is key; get a Thai, Indian, or Chinese cookbook and start experimenting. Make French salads.

Pretty Lady must pause here and give her general guidelines for a French salad.

Take one each of: a green, a steamed or cooked or grated vegetable, a cheese, a fruit, and a nut.

Dress with a dressing made up of: extra-virgin olive oil, lemon or lime juice, balsamic, apple cider, or red-wine vinegar, herbes du provence, salt and pepper.

Suggested greens:
Boston lettuce
red or green leaf lettuce
kale (use plenty of lemon in the dressing for this.)

Suggested vegetables:
steamed sugar snap peas
haricots verts (or green beans are fine, sort of)
steamed asparagus
beets, boiled or grated raw
grated carrot
steamed or canned yellow corn
artichoke hearts

Suggested fruits:
dried cranberries
mandarin oranges

Suggested cheeses:

Suggested nuts:
toasted walnuts
sunflower seeds

Feel free to mix, match, add, and experiment to your heart's content. If you cannot find herbes du provence, get organo, basil, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary, and mix them together.

Also, substitute solid white albacore tuna for the cheese, or add anchovies to the dressing.

Once you have got in the habit of including at least one fruit, vegetable, whole grain, and lean protein in each meal, buttressed by modest amounts of olive oil, you will find that such things as chips, doughnuts, cake, cookies, white bread, deep-fried food, greasy meat, sodas, ice cream, and generally bad-for-you things do not disappear, but lose their central importance. You cannot ingest an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies when your system is already knawing on an exquisite French salad, perhaps with a bit of homemade bread, and an espresso for dessert. You may find the room for two or three cookies. But then your system will simply say, "no, thank you. I do not require more cookies. I am Content."

4. Love people, love what you do, love your life, love yourself.

Overeating and failing to exercise are symptoms of despair and self-hatred, in Pretty Lady's opinion. They are an attempt to fill a deep internal void with sweet greasy fluff. This is why the sight of an obese person makes Pretty Lady want to cry, rather than sneer. She has been there herself; most of us have. If you find yourself compulsively overeating, look critically at your life, and ask yourself, 'what do I need that I haven't got?' Be honest. Acknowledge the frustration, the rage, the loneliness, the misery, the humiliation. Forgive yourself for feeling these universal human emotions. Acknowledge that you are a child of the universe, and you have a right to be here.

Then get to work rectifying the real problem, and leave the doughnuts behind.


Matt said...

Oh man, Pretty Lady you're so friggin nice. Great advice! Especially on #4. An the yoga one. Most people don't realize that stretching just a minute a day can make a difference!

heidi said...

Fabulous advice! I believe I may print this out and keep it handy. :)

Pretty Lady said...

It is a bad habit! :)

It is, my dear, it is. 'When I defend myself, I am attacked.' However, I must thank you sincerely for providing such a splendid example of how the problem is not with 'feminism,' it is within the hate-filled men; if there were ever a woman who fufills the ideals they purport to hold, it is you. And yet they still attack you.

BTW, I love your avatar. Jennifer Ehle makes an incomparable Eliza, does she not?

Matt said...

No peaches or nectarines? I love those.

White ones especially.

Anonymous said...

Now they are arguing for polygamy? Angry, hate-filled men who have nothing better to do than think of ways to spiritually "cover" their women and keep them in their place could not satisfy one woman...much less two.

Anonymous said...

I must tell you that I am probably nothing like the ideal woman to these men...I'm would you say...crazy like a fox. I don't generally enjoy being called a cunt so I try to engage the men in conversation in a way that does not make them feel like I am trying to be too intelligent thereby getting such a response from them. I am studying to become a teacher, will continue to be a teacher, have a wonderful husband who splits chores with me...and come from a long line of Southern Matriarchs with hot tempers and strong opinions! :)

Pretty Lady said...

I try to engage the men in conversation in a way that does not make them feel like I am trying to be too intelligent

Oh, honey, you are doing excellently well. It is such a comfort to have reinforcements.

Katy, my dear, you must email me at if you wish to discuss tactics. These channels are being watched.

Anonymous said...

You just have to love the Vox guys...first there was the post about that guy and his wife. All kinds of comments were made about how women choose to be with abusers because they're weak...blah blah blah. Now he has a post about how men stay with abusive women and somehow that is also the woman's fault. Oh, and also we are back to blaming everything on feminism and how we just aren't delecate enough for them. PV is my favorite on this one. The man will have a stroke one day while ranting about women! Is it just me...or they all just angry little men who weren't breast fed long enough?

Pretty Lady said...

Yes, you do have to love them, because you certainly can't change them. I find it an absolutely fascinating socio-cultural study.

What I find extraordinary is that they are utterly incapable of understanding how an intelligent woman's mind works, to the point where you can blindside them every time. It's like playing poker with your cards face up on the table, and winning every hand. I should give classes. Any of you ladies interested?

Pretty Lady said...

Katy, what have you done with your blog? It appears to have vanished!

Anonymous said...

I am re-decorating a bit...just for a change.

Anonymous said...

I loved how my question was handled.

Women stay with abusive men because of mean nasty feminists.

Men stay with abusive women because of mean nasty feminists.

"Every problem in the world is caused by women. *Stomp* Those meanies!"

I thought their argument against women was that they couldn't take responsibility for their own actions?

It really is funny!

Pretty Lady said...

Anonymous, I find that it is funny most of the time; then when I have a difficult day, my browser continually crashes, the electric bill tops out at $300, I find that I wish to respond to their nonsense in kind. Which is, of course, fatal. It is good that at such times, there are plants to be re-potted.