Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Calorie Neutral: the singalong

Recently, a couple of people delicately hinted that I needed a focus group for this blog. I was puzzled because they had been the focus group when did my pre-publication testing for content and style.
No, no, they said. A focus group that tests this plan for you.
Ah! I thought. They want  me to be their fitness guru, to explain the plan, cheerlead and, if necessary, crack the whip.
You’re offering your services? I asked.
They nodded eagerly.
Another member of the earlier focus group arrived and I explained their suggestion.
I’m in! she said.
When the next person arrived, we told her what we were thinking. She reared away so fast she almost slid off the back of her seat.
You’re asking me to commit? She looked appalled.
We laughed and I assured her that no, I would never ask her to do something so drastic. Participation has to be entirely voluntary.
So with a few eager participants – and you are most welcome to join in! – I’m launching a much-simplified and DIY version of the program that taught me how, when and what to eat for a healthier, more energetic life.

Please note that I am not an expert. I’m not going to do the exhaustive research into nutrition and exercise that my guru has done. While she is a guiding light, I’m more of a guttering candle.
But I’m here and I’m willing to wander the path with anyone who wants to come along.

Warning: I have pompoms but my whip went missing years ago. You’re responsible for driving your own wagon.


Positive goals: Once upon a time, in one of her many fabulous blog posts or articles, NYT bestselling author Jennifer Crusie pointed out that a story is more compelling if the character’s goals are positive, rather than negative: act on something rather than avoid something.
Registered Public Health Nutritionist and university instructor Pinki Sahota is also on board from a dietary perspective. Focus on what can be eaten, she suggests, rather than on what must be avoided.

Public goals: According to behaviour-modification experts Garry Martin and Joseph Pear of the University of Manitoba, accountability is key. Writing down a goal is a standard tenet of goal setting; sharing them here gives each of us another boost toward meeting them.
Be specific and decide on a time frame – and don't worry what anybody else is doing. This is your tailor-made plan.

Daily food and activity journal: begin with a journal of everything you eat and drink for three days of pre-Calorie Neutral life – three consecutive normal days.

Each week, reflect on and share your experience: Behaviour-modification experts Garry Martin and Joseph Pear of the University of Manitoba explain that a ratio of five compliments to one criticism helps people adapt new behaviours.
Obviously you can share whatever you want, but I think it’s most helpful to all of us to hear the successes as well as the struggles – ideally in that five-to-one ratio. Coming up with five positive things at once might be a struggle in itself (and how delicious is that irony?) but if it helps us get fit and stay that way, I’m game to try.
If something strikes you as funny or unexpected, so much the better.


On Thursday, Feb 17, I'll post a description of behaviour modification principles. Applying these is what helped Fodder and me actually change for good how, what, when and why we eat. They are what take a weight-loss program from A Diet to an enjoyable (no, seriously!) lifestyle. 

Between now and next Tuesday:
1. keep a written food and activity journal for three normal days
2. decide on your goals
3. get ready to share

See you soon!


  1. I'm in! Goal: lose 10 pounds while getting fitter. Today's probably as normal it gets - and we're out of cookies - so I started my food journal.

  2. Glad to see you, Lee!

    Be sure to check in on Thursday for some handy tips on staying true to your goals – and out of the cookie aisle.

  3. I'll have to start journalling tomorrow, since I've been having a weird-food day today. I hate it when I need to shop groceries and there's nothing I want to admit to in the fridge.

    My goal? It's not poundage, but a certain jean skirt. I'll know I'm where I want to be when I put in and it looks right.

    - Naomi

  4. The jean skirt is an excellent target. It's even better than a weight goal, because we can lose fat and gain muscle and the scale won't show that. The skirt, though – the skirt knows.