Diets and Paris

May 30, 2012

I’ve been on every diet there is . . .with some temporary success.  During a recent visit to Paris (France, not Texas), I’ve developed what I think will be the diet with the best results for anyone who sticks with it.  The dieter, of course, will have to actually be in Paris for this specific diet to work effectively.

First, let me share the diets I’ve tried, my failures, and diets I have developed.

Weight Watchers – I’ve been on and off Weight Watchers so many times, I should have been a stock holder.  My first experience was post Baby-Number-One, which was so long ago, there were even lists of unlimited foods such as raw cauliflower (ugh) and canned French style string beans (dull).  Through the years the program has changed:  exchanges, then points.  No matter what food is called, apparently I eat too much of it, and am blatantly incapable of tracking my food intake honestly.

Adkins Diet – For me, that one lasted five entire days, during which I had a banging headache, a common side effect from eating mainly meat while you avoid all carbohydrates like the plague.  When I found myself with a soon-to-be shop-lifted Granny Smith apple in my hand and an over whelming urge to gobble it down in full view of the grocery store security cameras, I realized that diet was not for me.

Diet Pills –  After one day of the drugstore jewels, I felt as if I’d drunk twenty-nine cups of espresso, jittery and hyped up.  At midnight, I found myself cleaning my bedroom closet with super human determination even though my daily wake-up call came every 5:00 a.m.  Not for me.

Carb Lovers Diet – Unlike Adkins, this one does allow carbohydrates, but healthy ones only.  No matter how I prepared whole-wheat pasta, it tasted like a strips of brown cardboard.  For me, life without good pasta  – isn’t.

Then, there were the diets I made up.

Fear Diet – Since adrenaline is activated by fearful situations and surely that burns up fat faster than, say, being sprawled out on a chaise lounge for the entire afternoon, I developed the Fear Diet.  Imagine how much fat you could burn up when the Internal Revenue Service notifies you that you are subjected to a thorough audit . . . for the last ten years.  How fast will your heart beat when the middle-level-skier you are is erroneously directed to the top of a Double Black Diamond run, and there is only one way down?  (I myself would hold there until the spring thaw.  That should be ample time to shed lots of blubber.)  How much adrenaline will soar through your veins when your doctor informs you that you are a Typhoid Carrier, and you must move into plastic bubble isolation forever?  How will you work and keep your health insurance active?

Only Eat Those Foods You Hate – This one is fairly self-explanatory.  However, I cannot imagine me lasting one day on the likes of liver, beets, quince, kumquats, lima beans, and tapioca pudding washed down with nothing other than licorice flavored ouzo or gin.  (Double ugh.)

Now for the most realistic of all the diet plans I’ve developed – The Paris Diet.

The entire premise of the Paris Diet, other than you must be in Paris for it to work, is that food there is astonishingly expensive, restaurants and grocers alike. (Maybe that’s why so many Parisians smoke – to dull their hunger pains instead of going broke paying for food.)   Some mean, strict individual left over from either boarding school administration, or the loosing side of World War II has to be the administrator.  “Meany” provides the equivalent of $5.00 USA for breakfast.  The lunch distribution is $7.00, and dinner a whopping $10.00.  Based on my recent experiences in Paris, I would estimate weight loss at an astonishing rate.

Following these helpful suggestions, you should get the optimums weight loss results.

Breakfast – Only a small cup of ordinary black coffee and half a croissant someone left on a seat in the Metro.

Lunch – Dressed in business clothes, slip into a hotel lobby where a convention is underway and munch from the veggie tray provided for the conventioneers . . . until you are caught without a badge or wristband declaring you a valid participant.

Dinner – You sit at an outdoor bistro where you sip a $10 glass of white wine.  When a waiter zips by your chair, snag food off the back end of his tray . . . until you get caught.

Warning:  Providing bail is not a provision of this diet.

Note:  Paris jail food consists of only hominy grits and frog legs.

In the event you are not jailed, aforementioned “Meany” will pay for your comfortable hotel, giving strict instructions for the removal of all edibles from your room (instant coffee packets and fake cream) and all leftovers on room service trays in your hallway.

Regrettably, I myself cannot participate in a test trial of my proposed Paris Diet.

Number one – I am not in Paris.

Number two – I don’t know of a “Meany” type administrator in Paris.

Number three – In the event I were in Paris, I still have Bruce’s credit cards, all valid at every overpriced Parisian restaurant.

Good luck with your weight loss.

Surprise! A Way to Develop Character

September 26, 2011

On our first day in Paris during a family vacation, we were hit with a number of surprises. It got me thinking that the element of surprise is a great device to develop the characters in a novel. Using my own experiences as examples, I’ve categorized them into three types: observational, experiential and thwarted expectations.

Observational surprises can be physical or a change in self-awareness. For example, during our airplane descent, I caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and the structure a reddish brown, not silver as I had expected. I also notice a change in my typical behavior. I’ve been accused of planning every second of vacation time. A reputation I have earned over the years. I had a plan of attack for activities our family would do on arrival. My husband and I had worked on this itinerary for months. Instead, during our first day, we left our rented apartment and randomly walked the streets. Rather than being disappointed in the change of plans, I felt a strange sense of freedom.

Experiential surprises are those that I define as those derived from interactions with people or things. In Paris, I was totally caught off guard when a French woman asked me for directions. Another experiential surprise was how much I enjoyed taking photos of my family imitating poses on statues. Here we are in Paris, looking at the Louvre and Norte Dame, and that silliness will be a highlight of my first day in Paris.

Thwarted expectations are surprises that are unpleasant. Our shuttle driver in Paris was 20 minutes late in meeting us, during which time I kept thinking we were either waiting in the wrong area or we’d been scammed (we’d prepaid). I had not used the restroom and when our driver said it would only take 20 to 30 minutes to get to our apartment, I decided to wait. Two hours later, and I suspect several wrong turns later, we arrived and then I had to wait even longer for the apartment key. Also, I went in search of lunch and the crepes I brought back for were blackened on one side. Not overdone, but charred. I was famished and ate them anyway. But I expected the food in Paris to be perfect. But it got me pondering the question what a given character in a novel would do – storm back to the restaurant and ask for his or her money back? Throw the crepes in the garbage and shrug it off? Take his anger/disappointment out on his or her family?

Which of these categories do you think is the most valuable for character development?