Eat a vegetable with every meal. Drink 2 liters of water a day. Meditate for 15 minutes a day. Don’t eat sugar. Hug your kids. Take 5 minutes to yourself to relax before bed. Get properly fitted for a bra. Eat real food. Live mindfully. Laugh. No grains. Dance like no one’s watching. Do cardio first. Work in what you love and love your work. Be passionate. Ask questions.
All of the above are responses that people have told me over the course of this month’s “Perfection” Experiment, which I am renaming the Rules Experiment. Because while there was very little perfection to be had, this certainly was the month of rules.
What I discovered is that while many people initially say that they loathe rules, everyone usually has a few that they live by. I asked them to distill it to one. One simple rule. At first I asked people to tell me their one hard-and-fast health rule but slowly it broadened into their rule for life.
Do no harm. Don’t be evil (thanks Google!). Give more than you get. Listen first.
As part of my Experiment this month – and per the advice of at least 3 of you darling readers – I read (she of Real Housewives fame) Bethenney Frankel’s book Naturally Thin. At first it felt like every diet book. “This is the last diet book you’ll ever need!” “But don’t call it a diet!” But the more I got into it – it’s based around Frankel’s 10 simple rules for healthful eating – the more it felt like Intuitive Eating, a book I both simultaneously love and have been frustratingly unable to implement. Except that in Naturally Thin, she gives you a little more guidance on how to do what she suggests. Her first rule, and the most important according to her, is to think of your body like a food bank. Good, healthy foods are deposits. Decadent desserts, french fries and other unhealthy foods are withdrawls. You can eat them all but just make sure to balance your budget every day.
This is the way “naturally thin” people eat, she asserts. No weighing or measuring portions. No counting calories. No obsessing over preparation methods at restaurants. Just making sure your balance stays in the black. It seems to make sense. While I do have friends that do the weighing/counting/measuring/obsessing thing to stay thin, I also have several who just seem to know what their body needs and eat it. If I have a choice (do I?) I’d prefer to be in the latter group.
But I have always – perhaps this was my first cogent thought as a newborn? – assumed that I was not naturally thin. I always knew that my body, if left to its own devices, would head towards obesity faster than Nadya “Octomom” Suleman runs to the press. And yet Frankel says this is not so. She says that every person has the ability to learn to be naturally thin. You just have to follow the rules.
Where she has 10, others have fewer. Michael Pollan is famous for his pithy 3-rule advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Gwyneth Paltrow: “Eat raw.” Mariah Carey: “Eat purple.” But it’s not the famous people whose rules I’m interested in, it’s the real people.
MizFit summed up her approach for me thusly: “I don’t do rules.” Reader Dara told me, “Nothing makes you look slimmer faster and stand up prouder than a good bra.” Heather Eats Almond Butter discovered the secret for her is “just Yoga.” And there were many responses in between. For me, while this Experiment has helped me cull my rule list (apparently using mouth wash every day is bad for you! Who knew??), I have not been able to distill them down to just one. Or even an overarching theory. But I feel closer than I was before.
Recycle. Live simply. Be kind. Ride mass transit. Talk to strangers. Pray. Love generously.
What’s your One Rule? Have any of you read Naturally Thin? Hype or doable?
Don’t forget: New Experiment coming at you tomorrow!