The Intergalactic (Weekly) Day of Grace

blog cat on a bathroom scaleWhen I got home from last month’s Romance Writers of America conference, the scale said… well, what my scale usually says, “Too much of a good thing here, Grace,” but it said so more loudly than usual. Not my all time high, but I could see the mountaintop, as it were. 

So… we know deprivation diets don’t work, and often slingshot us into worse trouble yet. To heck with that…. except with my metabolism, deprivation is a way of life. I’m never full, I never have any energy, and I eat a conscientiously clean, healthful menu in rigorous moderation. As my father has said, when the next Ice Age comes, everybody will wish they had my metabolism. 

blog wooly mammothBut obesity is bad news, in terms of health outcomes, much less mental health. So… back onto the tread desk I go, several miles a day, and the rigorous moderation became rigorous-er. I looked out across my immediate future, looked at my plans in terms of movement and caloric intake, and said unto myself, “Madam, this ain’t gonna work.” 

Helpful aside: Any commenter who implies that regular exercise results in an INCREASE in energy will find themselves dropped down the nearest privy hole–gently of course. You have your bodily reality, I blog outhousehave mine. 

So. I put up the usual hurdles (do more, eat less, even though I already don’t eat much and am always working), with one change: Saturday goes back to being a real Saturday, such as I survived on in my childhood. I HATED the school week. HATED IT, with a burning, unrelenting, and well justified passion (waves to Sister Jean Michael).

But Saturday was MY day. No structure AT ALL, until dinner at 6 pm. I could wander outside all day, sleep the afternoon away, sit in a tree and read, have five bowls of cereal, wear my jammies until noon… I had one day to be not what everybody else demanded of me, but what I wanted to be.  

blog cat in a treeNow, I’ve stopped setting the alarm on Saturdays. I don’t count calories, I rest from the tyranny of the tread desk. I’ve watched the results of this scheduled orgy, and yeah, I might eat a thousand more calories–Oh, the carbs! The sloth! Two whole cupcakes! I get less done, and I’m kinda stiff on Sunday from not moving as much. 

But I’m HAPPIER, because I got the day I needed to recharge in the ways I’m already badly underweight. Unstructured time, solitude, sensory pleasures, imaginative play… duke and his duchessI’m a person, not a dot on the insurance company’s profit management chart. Seems as long as I recall that, I can make progress on the more external indicators of well being. 

Two realizations so far: First, I’m more deprived and regimented than I realized, most of the time; and second, what I want in terms of periodic wild indulgence is woefully tame.

If you were going to kick over the traces one day a week, what would it look like–or what DOES it look like? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Tuesday’s print release, The Courtship/The Duke and His Duchess. 



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

29 comments on “The Intergalactic (Weekly) Day of Grace

  1. Grace, I too have a metabolism that will serve me well in the next Ice Age – if I can make it that far (ha!).

    I’m retired now, so I can do (or not do) what I want – when I want. For all my work life though my weekdays were very structured. But Saturday and Sunday were my days and even though I’m retired now they still “feel” like the two days I can do nothing and not feel bad about it.

    Loved TREMAINE and I’m looking forward to MATTHEW. My September book budget is going to be stretched to the limit because Mary Balogh and Caroline Warfield also have new releases. Love it!

    • I know a lot of people who are busier in “retirement” than they were when employed. I think that’s lovely, and probably closer to life as we’re meant to live it.

      I know what you mean about the book budget. Tessa Dare, Meredith Duran, Mary Balogh… an embarrassment of late nights.

  2. You have no idea how much I love the Ice Age metabolism idea. I may or may not have spit my coffee out right on my computer screen and laughed so hard that my face hurt (the only person who saw it is 2 years old and I have ways of keeping her quiet that usually involve bribery)! That made my day.

    I used to get angry when my friends would eat whatever they wanted and never gain an ounce, yet I would eat an extra piece of dry toast and gain a pound. Now, instead of getting angry, I have accepted that this is my “bodily reality,” to use your excellent phrase, and that I have to work with what I’ve got. My daily grind involves an ongoing caloric tally that can be mind-numbing at times. Having a day free of caloric sums has done wonders for my psyche, even as I have realized that when given free reign, my desires tend toward being childish. Bowls of cereal, candy, and anything that is topped with colorful sprinkles are always at the top of my list on a free day.

    As far as non-food behaviors, if given the chance to do anything my heart desires, I will ALWAYS choose to read. When I’m feeling a little wild and crazy, I might read in a different location (scandous, I know!), but that’s about as extreme as it gets for this gal.

    • I think Back In The Day, life was not a matter of hitting a certain total caloric intake, day after day. When the blueberries were ripe–we scarfed ’em, and got a big dose of anthocyanines. When somebody killed a deer, oh, the complete protein. Then… well, cattail roots for a while. But possibly–rabbit stew!! Then the cherries would ripen… anything that tends too much to routine just isn’t good for us over the long haul. Not glutttony, not deprivation.

      My two. If I see a mammoth I’ll ask him what he thinks.

  3. I think everyone needs a day off!

    My day off is usually Sunday. I schedule a dog training class, enter a dog event or get up early walk the dogs. It’s the day I do something for me…what Imchoose to do. I might sit on the porch with Molly and Celeste with a cup of coffee and enjoy. I might bake or make dinner….but that’s it. In reality, this happens once or twice a month and I have to work hard to achieve it!

    Working full time Monday – Friday is tough. I feel that I am stuck in a rut – work, work and more work… and the traffic this summer is unbelievable. A 40 minute commute is now almost 90 minutes each way. It makes for a long day. I am looking forward to my week off in September! I need the week to re charge!

    Enjoyed Tremaine and Nita and have preordered Matthew. Have a good week!

    • Traffic can be the living end. Books on tape, NPR, driving meditations… it all gets old, as does that much sitting, just to get to work, work, work. I did it for years, but found once I was free of it, it became one of those, “I don’t know how I did that…” things.

      I hope some doors open for you, Sue, and soon. Until then… weekends!!!!

  4. Now before you look for the nearest privy…I was a ballet dancer, with a career in the offing and was (we didn’t call it that) *bulimic* until I was 16. At 16, I fell down a flight of stairs and wrecked my ankle, with no hope of repair enough to sustain a career. The first thing I did was eat a whole chocolate cake with no, um, well, you know!

    That being said….my metabolism isn’t like yours….if I don’t snack, I lose weight. And if I exercise, along with the no snacks between meals, I lose more. BUT I don’t do either. I have the ability to get to the weight I want but….I don’t. I think it’s because I HAD to be a certain weight and this is my way of rebelling or something.

    To let loose, I bake. I might spend a day baking, reading (your latest usually!) and maybe making a meal of something I’m in the mood for….and that changes with the time of year…figs with prosciutto or tomatoes with fresh mozzarella or sweet corn with herbed butter are big for me right now.

    It’s hard to let go…but I try to make Saturday a *fun day* like you do. No projects if I can help it, no housework or laundry and I have a symphony subscription starting in October and that’s something I look forward to….maybe dinner somewhere nice before or after. It’s tame pursuits, that’s for sure!

    • Dancers get a free pass with me.

      I accompanied ballet classes to pay my way through college, and NOBODY in the arts suffers more, works harder, for longer, to get to fewer paying jobs, for a shorter career, with more pain and injury, than the dancers. A lift goes wrong–your career is over. A grocery cart hits you in the ankle, there goes your solo… Very, very tough field, and it’s so demanding, you generally can’t develop something to fall back on when that flight of stairs shows up calling your name.

      But your post underscores what I believe to be true: There’s a nutritional component to what we weigh, but there’s a genetic/metabolic component too, and we haven’t begun to try to understand that end of the mystery.

  5. Oh we can survive the ice age together. I won’t go into all my weight woes, as you know most of them anyway, but my body basically went into starvation mode a few years ago (so my doctor at the time told me after a month long of keeping track of food/activity/blood sugar. Also they did a metabolism test which said that it was still higher than average, which it had been for years. I still think medication had and has a lot to do with it.

    Anyway, being a stay-at-home mom with numerous appointments to keep through out the week, a day off for me would be a day free of mom duty. Someone making me dinner and being able to read or write without a cute child interrupting me. A good nights sleep wouldn’t hurt either. Also, along with that, made just for me dinner, would be the ability to eat it without feeling full after a couple of bites and miserable for hours after.

    That’s not too much ask is it?

    • I’m confused… you’re in starvation mode, but with a fast metabolism? Seems like starvation mode would be a very sloooooow metabolism.

      Your day off sounds like bliss, but not nearly enough. Moms should probably get a week off for each kid, and that would be just a start. I hear in some countries… oh, don’t get me started.

  6. Grace,
    I go on my web site all day and clear out what is put in quarantine on the web site. Authors sometimes change there email addresses and so I legitimize the new email address. Yesterday an email there caught my eye (think it was AARP message). There is a hormone that burns your fat and If you do all the normal things to burn off the fat it shuts your body down and doesn’t allow. Better known as the Concentration Camp effect. It won’t let you starve yourself. One solution given is take one day off a week and indulge yourself to the tune of 1000 calories. So you are DOING ALL CORRECTLY. They also had an artificial hormone to help but that makes me nervous. The older one gets the more pills one takes. It could interact incorrectly with RXs. Also it may only be for making money for them.

    • Well, muffins, represent!!!! Thanks for that affirmation, and I hear you on the medication woes. One of my jobs is representing older folks in guardianship proceedings who have no family to look out for them.

      Invariably, these people are on a dozen medications–for depression, dementia, blood pressure, cholesterol, psychosis, bone loss, Type I diabetes, atrial fib… and my client has been bedridden for months, no longer speaks, can’t do anything for themselves…

      But the meds are on the chart…. makes my blood BOIL.

  7. And Again me. Ladies please don’t waste the calories on sweetened cereal. Eat one of the exotic gelatos now available even in a small mountain town. A bacon wrapped filet A wonderful rib roast highly marbleized with Yorkshire pudding.
    Eat something exotic and maybe expensive that you just love or would like to sample. Good expensive chocolates with unusual flavors.
    My vegetable favorite is asparagus (home grown if possible) and smothered in butter. If it’s home grown you won’t need the butter. Margaret

  8. I’m very strict on my diet and exercise, that’s the only way I can keep to my healthy weight – after having lots of experience with doing things other ways. I don’t really give myself a day off the diet and exercise, but I do give myself permission to do nothing else that looks like work unless I want to on the weekend. I sleep in some, hang out, read, play on the computer, etc. and that helps me get through the week of work. I still occasionally make room in my diet for indulgences, I just know that I have to leave something else out, or exercise more that day.

    • You’ve found something that works–good on ya! There are people in my family who simply don’t think that much about food, or care very much what they eat. They have other indulgences, usually stuff that I can’t be bothered with.

      To each his Dulcinea, as it were.

  9. A day all to myself? To do whatever? That hasn’t happened in ages. However, some of my days off from work, I manage to go back to sleep for a few hours – after feeding the critters (and giving medicine to the epileptic one). If I don’t have too many errands to run, I do try to get as much reading in as possible – if the weather is nice outside on the porch.

    I’ve discovered over the years that the only thing that consistently goes up when I exercise a great deal is my appetite. 😉 I don’t necessarily even sleep better at night like some people insist will happen. I’ve also discovered that I’m less likely to binge on unhealthy food when I allow myself an occasional indulgence. The hard part is holding it down to occasional. I’m afraid if I gave myself one day a week to indulge, it might take all week to recover. 🙂

    • There is that… but I love that go back to bed idea. At one point, I was moaning to a doc that I never had energy, but I “did fine” on seven hours sleep. She told me to go back to bed as you suggest–do the mandatory stuff, but then go right back up the stairs.
      I’d sleep another two hours.
      Now, I try to set the alarm as little as possible.

  10. Sunday is my day to relax. I stay in my nightgown until noon, and apologize to no one! Once I get dressed, I don’t do much of anything. I just RELAX.

  11. Hmm.. let’s see, so I went to the grocery store on Saturday and they had paper copies of Only a Kiss by: Mary Balogh on sale. I was a happy girl. It is not officially supposed to be out until tomorrow. So I would normally go directly home and not move, until I had read the whole book. I would probably have a nice mug of tea and some good cookies. I am doing some things differently, I won’t tell you what that is because I don’t Grace upset with me. I am only half-way through the book. This may also be one of the best books I’ve read from Mary Balogh, on the level with Slightly Married and I never thought I’d say that. It is nice to slow down and savor a book, rather than gulp it all in one sitting.

  12. I have always been lucky n that I remain thin no matter what I eat.

    My day to just do nothing and relax is Friday evening. You work all week and it is nice to not be beholden to a schedule after work on Friday.

    • Joye,
      I recall in my wicked youth the Friday “happy hour” that consisted of sitting around with co-workers drinking for hours. I’d catch the last bus home, and then wonder why I’d wasted a perfectly good reading evening doing THAT.

      Law school put an end to that–I went at night, and even Friday nights spent in Commercial Paper classes were interesting than happy hour.

  13. I know what you mean…I just walk by a bakery and the calories seem to jump on me somehow. And don’t even get me started on my daily miles on the “dread-mill”. Ugh. I hope you’ve checked the usual culprits re your weight and energy situation (thyroid, low iron, low Vitamin D, hormone imbalance, etc) before deciding to only eat greens or something for the rest of the month 🙂

  14. Grace, my day would look exactly like yours. Mind would have a great deal of time on the couch reading until I got sleepy. Then I would nap. Other than essential animal care, that is what I would do. The other humans could fend for themselves.

    :sob: Instead, I have to get up at the same time and run out of the house, and stay gone all day. I haven’t had an unstructured day in three weeks.

    Thanks for this post, which made me realize why I am so stressed.

  15. Hello Grace.

    We met in July at RWA and looking at your above post, I laughed, both in humour at your wit, and in embarrassment at myself; the scale was not very kind to me then either…! (just WHAT did they put in our food/ drinks in NY, hum?)

    Your advice to treat yourself (with food or whatever makes you happy) one day per week is very sound, for the waist and for the soul.

    As for myself, I cannot speak highly enough about exercise. For me, it’s a must due to an old injury (gees… I sound like a dinosaur!) But more than exercising, I make sure I truly ENJOY exercising. Otherwise, I would always find gonzillions of excuses to just stay in and work on my WIP.

    So, I wish you/ everyone balance, and joy while balancing! (BTW, balance means ‘scale’ in French… :D)

    Annie (aka Kelly Ann Scott)