Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Review: How to be Slim and Healthy. Announcing My Weight Loss Goal

I found out about Fiona's latest eBook on Wednesday and read it that same day. I learned of this third book of her's entitled How to be Slim and Healthy: A French-inspired journey to slimness and good health on her blog How to be Chic. After French Women Don't Get Fat: the Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano, this is only the second "diet" book I have ever read. I highly recommend it. Plus, I purchased it for only $0.99!

This is actually a timely read for me. For the first three months of the new year, I only needed to drop two pounds to hit my latest goal weight of 145 pounds. (Like Fiona, I am 5'7" but I am probably a tiny bit more muscular than the average person due to heredity rather than exercise.) Then, the feasts celebrating Easter and my birthday occurred during April and, as a result, I gained four more pounds. Unfortunately, I have maintained that higher weight through the entire month of May. As most women do, I fluctuate in my weight at times. For me, it's a fifteen pound range. As an adult, I have weighed as little as 145 pounds which I think of as my 'high school graduation weight' and as much as 160 which was my weight at college graduation. I feel fabulous at 145 and I feel like I don't even look like myself at 160. Thankfully (for my wallet), this range is about one size in clothing! Just last month, for some reason, my weight gain and any fluctuation suddenly became rather unacceptable. From now on, I would like to hit my 145 goal and stay within a pound of it. Going into swimsuit season, I am certainly ready to make this happen, to start eating smaller portions and more healthy as well as incorporating frequent exercise into my life. I realize that I am very honest and real on the blog, but I do not believe I would have published my weight if it had not been for Fiona's courage to do so first. Like the author, I faced my fear and also, by writing about it, I am now a bit more accountable to others in my attempt to lose weight. Fiona, merci beaucoup.

I think Fiona's book will truly help me in multiple ways.

Like her, I understand many things about staying on track. That how you spend your days is actually how you spend your life. Each small step counts. Mostly, people accomplish things successfully and then maintain their end result "little by little." And if you "cheat," then you do not abandon the plan altogether, but do better next time. It is crucial to have reminders of how you want to live.

Similar to Fiona, both my past and nature act against me and my weight loss progress. As for my past, prior to age 15, even though I was perfectly healthy, I happened to be skinny, skinniest-girl-in-my-class skinny in fact, and I remember that you could see all of my ribs. I could eat endlessly, and often did! We're talking tables full of food, including junk food and Halloween candy and not gain an ounce! Then, I went on a medication when I was 15 years old and gained ten to fifteen pounds immediately. Also, about that time my metabolism began to slow. For example, eating a donut would translate to a pound on the scale. I still believe that my current metabolism is better than average though. It was a significant challenge to transition to eating much less. In addition, my past environment didn't help either. My family and I have always enjoyed eating a lot. The four other people in my nuclear family unit are all overweight. My mom and sister have horrendous eating habits. Although due to health conditions, my mother is slowly getting better. I am used to eating until I am full at nearly every sitting and can eat beyond the point of feeling absolutely stuffed with some regularity, like once every other week, if not once a week. Then, in that case, if dining out at a restaurant with my family, Michelle always has room for a chocolate dessert; it would be unthinkable for me not to order it, if only to take it home for later. It is important to be mindful of old ways so you can make changes and develop habits against them.

My nature also acts against me. I mentioned chocolate; I have always had a serious sweet tooth. I also adore carbs, specifically, bread and pasta. Mamma mia! In addition to being drawn to unhealthy foods, it is also in my nature to eat as reward, as in I work so hard that I deserve this candy bar, for example. Taught to eat all my vegetables on my plate growing up (and of course finishing all of the other things first), I became a clear-your-plate kind of gal. Even though I do not like to waste food, maybe I should leave something on my plate and not treat my body as a garbage disposal. I suppose my present situation of having such a limited food budget does not assist my weight loss either. Pasta is a cheap meal and I wish I was exaggerating when I say that I eat this dish quite frequently. Luckily, I also love vegetables! I can choose to change my thinking, thus my natural way.

Years ago, I dated a guy who consumed small portions and he got me into that for the first time successfully as well as the 'using a small plate' trick. I am always working on portion control and eating less. I have written about mastering this as a New Year's Resolution so many times (including this year). In addition to not piling my plate as high and not indulging in seconds, I have tried to cut an occasional baguette and my beloved cheddar cheese into portions and store each piece in a separate Ziploc bag in either the freezer (bread in quart-size freezer bags) or refrigerator (cheese in snack-size bags). I may even place one of these cheese bags into a knotted small grocery bag, which may make me pause and reconsider before I undo the knot. If I try something new that works for me, I will be sure to let you know.

Fiona is right that if you don't eat something, eventually you want it less. This does take a long time however. Since I do not have my own car and don't often drive around, I hardly ever eat fast food anymore and there was a time just a few years ago that I was so thrilled to only have to have it once a week! However, I do thoroughly enjoy some form of takeout (to be delivered) still, be it a sandwich, sub, pizza (and possibly wings), or Chinese (beef and broccoli with pork fried rice) about once every couple of weeks or so. Fortunately, we have a free team lunch at least monthly at work. Additionally, I haven't stocked Coca-Cola regularly in my refrigerator since last September (I think) and for most of my life, soda was a regular, if not daily, part of my life. Having less caffeine works well for me as I am very sensitive to it. I replaced coke with plain cold water mostly, but also with a bit of decaffeinated sweetened iced tea. Instead of consuming handfuls of chocolate, I usually enjoy a single individually-wrapped decadent truffle. I may even eat a break or two of a King Size Kit-Kat Bar at a sitting!

I think the major lesson that I will take from Fiona's book is that I should eat less, exercise more, hit my goal weight and then maintain it in order to be and feel chic. I am very idealistic and I could definitely see this thinking working well for me. Really reading all the lifestyle books and blogs that I do which encourage intentional and mindful living, these resources have already impacted my life.

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." In order to drop a pound a week over the next six weeks, I intend to: purchase healthier foods more often (like introducing fruit and adding more vegetables and nuts), serve myself smaller portions at meals, and no longer eat until I am full or stuffed. I will try to replace a few of those pasta meals each week with something else. For instance, I had a salad (a mix of greens with red bell pepper, shredded cheddar cheese, homemade balsamic vinaigrette and seasoned croutons) for lunch yesterday.

Concerning exercise, I share Fiona's love for walking. I can improve upon this, however, by walking more often. Right now, I walk to stores in order to shop once or twice week and might walk through an adjacent neighborhood once a week, but should try to walk around the area a few times a week, as well as for longer each time. Recently, I signed up for a wellness program at work that focuses on walking. Armed with a free pedometer, I plan to exceed my step goals. When it's too hot and humid outside, I could practice salsa dancing around my apartment. Black T-strap heels are cuter than sneakers!

This book also serves as a reminder for me to schedule two doctor's appointments for a couple of check ups. High blood pressure is quite common in my family, especially among the women on my mother's side, and mine has not measured as completely normal/healthy in years. "To have a physical exam" was a goal I set for myself to accomplish during 2015.

I mentioned that I installed Better Than Before, a book on habits by Gretchen Rubin, on my summer reading list. I think that as I read that, it will help me achieve my weight loss goals too. I know that she believes the right time to start something is now. Committed from this point on, I hope to update that I making progress in losing those six pounds soon!

If you would like to be slimmer and/or healthier, I suggest you read this book.


  1. What a fabulous post Michelle. Not only do I appreciate the thorough review of my ebook, but you have shared plenty of great tips and inspiration to achieve and maintain a healthy and chic weight, for which I thank you.

    1. You're welcome. I appreciate you writing it.

  2. I adored Fiona's book. It has given me much food for thought. Loved reading your review!

    1. Thank you!

      I read your newest book too, and would like to draft a similar post, how it has changed my life more than simply a review, but sometimes changes take time. Stay tuned though!