When life allows, I sit. Still. And listen for what is important today. To me. Maybe not to anyone else. But maybe.
‘Today’ might be misleading, though. These are not ‘thoughts for the day’. They are just what I wanted to write. Today.
Here are some. Just in case you might also be sitting. Still.
How To Stay Slim Forever
(and Why You Won’t Do This)
‘Do you have Google and a calculator?’
That is how I usually start when someone really wants to know how I stay slim.
This way of getting and staying slim doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have to join anything. And you don’t have to translate real things into made-up things like points, or buy made-up things like powders, or go through made-up stages like deprivation and transition back to real life. This is real life.
However, you probably won’t do it. I’ll talk about why in a second.
First, here’s the process:
Decide what weight you want to be.
Multiply that figure (in pounds) by 11 and memorise that number. That is the number of calories you can eat each day in order to be that weight. That is your ‘weight figure’.
Why times 11? No idea. And neither did the person who told me about it.
But it works. It is the only thing that has ever worked for me. And I’m in my 14th year of success.
Calories? You Must Be Joking!
I thought so, too. Calorie-counting is old fashioned and never works. Much newer and more sophisticated, complex programmes do. Yes?
No. All approaches don’t work. Ultimately. Because all of them have in common complete ignorance of the ‘Times 11’ feature.
Get that right and calorie-counting becomes a brand new thing.
This is easy. After you get your daily calorie number, you do only two other things:
Make two lists. Make one of all the foods you love and the amounts you usually eat (even during ‘diets’, however cleverly you hide that fact from others and yourself). Make another of the foods you will eat today.
Google each food to find and record its calories.
#1 is easy and quick. #2 takes focus and patience, but it doesn’t take forever. And when it’s done, it’s done forever. Allow 45 minutes.
Do It Today
Look at the calorie figures for today’s foods. Add them up. Make sure the total is not greater than your ‘weight figure’. If it is, reduce or change some things.
Be true to your list all day. Love your body with every swallow.
Make today’s list each morning first thing. Be true to it, even if you have to make adjustments.
Bottom line: you can eat anything you want as long as the total calories for the day is within your ‘Times 11’ ‘weight figure’. So you could have pizza, beer and a Magnum everyday and still keep your desired weight.
But you would soon develop cancer. So learning about nutrition and choosing foods that are nutritious/delicious is obviously best. The salient point for this piece, though, is the ‘Times 11’ figure: the total calories for the weight you want to be. Get that right, live it, and the weight takes care of itself.
But You Probably Won’t
The do-rate of this brilliant way to achieve your desired weight is shockingly low. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve told about it, the people I’ve supported to make their lists, the people I’ve partnered, the people I’ve assisted through the untrue assumptions causing their weight gain.
So I’ve pretty much given up telling people about it. Even when they ask how I stay slim and healthy, I just say, ‘I live "Times 11".’ And they brighten up and then change the subject. I no longer even look ready to go onto the next sentence. I just smile.
So even if you have read this far in this piece, which I appreciate, I suspect you will nod, play with the idea for a few minutes, maybe even figure out what your desired weight is and multiply that by 11. But you are almost certain then not to take barely an hour to make the lists. And plan your eating from them.
Also, you probably use food to deal with your feelings. So there is no room left for looking squarely at the figures and the inevitable weight consequences of collapsing into food as a way to feel better. I understand that. No blame.
But should you decide to honour your one and only body, and begin to live ‘Times 11’ and to see and marvel at the marvellous you that emerges, let me know.
I could do with some pepping up on this issue.
What is so hard about saying those two ordinary-as-anything words? Nothing. Unless we have just received a compliment. And honestly, you’d think someone was about to accuse us of the First Deadly Sin given how fast we don’t accept the compliment. Here are the most common ways we do that:
‘It was nothing.’
‘Don't be so stupid.’
‘Don’t let’s go on about this.’
‘You don’t really know me.’
‘My wife (husband, mother, boss) wouldn’t agree with you.’
‘Oh, for god’s sake.’
These responses are small acts of violence. If I say something I appreciate about you, something you’ve done or thought or said, and you respond in one of those ways, you have denigrated me – my perception, my thinking, my integrity, my intentions. And not only does the joy I was feeling in appreciating you vanish; my full heart shrivels. It has registered assault.
Amazingly, so does ‘Thanks’. ‘Thanks’ is clipped, curt and dismissive.
And it is no better when we do the converse. If I say something lovely about what you have just done, and you say, ‘Well, I don’t disagree,’ you have missed the whole point. My comment was not intended as an opening to an objective collaborative assessment of how you just did the thing you did. It was a much more complex and delicate thing than that. It was a gift of my heart to your heart. It was an intimate thing, a sweet thing, a moment.
Exaggeration? I don’t think so. The fact is, it takes courage to say what we appreciate in each other, and it takes courage to receive it. It takes a certain grace, actually. It takes absorption. And nothing less than the full-throated trust of the giver is at stake. When we do not say ‘Thank you’, we say instead, ‘I do not honour you, I do not trust you, and you cannot trust me; I am not a safe place for you; go away.’
It is no wonder we give and receive such little appreciation in our lives. We can fail to say ‘thank you’ only just so many times. Soon the giver thinks twice before complimenting us again, and decides not to.
When you think about it, the lore about raising children is smart on this issue. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, we tell our children. And if I had to teach one, I would teach ‘Thank you’. We can do ‘please’ with tone and a smile. But ‘Thank you’ needs the words.
At a grander level, when we think about doing Good in the world – producing dignity and meaning and equality and confidence and just about every other important human state – saying ‘Thank you’ is one simple but lasting way to do it.
This, remember, is not the ‘Thank you’ we offer after favours or courtesies. That is entirely different. This is ‘Thank you’ after appreciation, after recognition.
It is a big thing.
You have to read this:
‘The elephant’s trunk is six feet long and one foot think and contains sixty thousand muscles. Elephants can use their trunks to uproot trees, stack timber, or carefully place huge logs in position when recruited to build bridges. An elephant can curl its trunk round a pencil and draw characters on letter-size paper. With the two muscular extensions at the tip, it can remove a thorn, pick up a pin or a dime, uncork a bottle, slide the bolt off a cage door and hide it on a ledge, or grip a cup so firmly, without breaking it, that only another elephant can pull it away. The tip is sensitive enough for a blindfolded elephant to ascertain the shape and texture of objects. In the wild, elephants use their trunks to pull up clumps of grass and tap them against their knees to knock off the dirt, to shake coconuts out of palm trees, and to powder their bodies with dust. They use their trunks to probe the ground as they walk, avoiding pit traps, and to dig wells and siphon water from them. Elephants can walk underwater on the beds of deep rivers or swim like submarines for miles, using their trunks as snorkels. They communicate through their trunks by trumpeting, humming, roaring, piping, purring, rumbling, and making a crumpling-metal sound by rapping the trunk against the ground. The trunk is lined with chemoreceptors that allow the elephant to smell a python hidden in the grass or food a mile away. 1
I am completely transported by that. I don’t know what else to say.
Maybe marvelling is enough.
1 From The Language Instinct. Steven Pinker, Penguin Random House, 2015, p. 330.