Month: August 2015

The FOUR Challenge: Day Three Catastrophe

Time for McDonalds?

Going on this diet is a little like the first week of trying to be an evangelical Christian. I could also compare it to meditation but the concept is really the same.

You start with this idea that you want to make your life better and living the spiritual ecstasy of evangelism is one way to do it. Of course you could just read the Bible and be nice to everyone, or take a walk in the park every day and ditch and candy – but as the Bhuddha said – life is suffering – so embrace it. I chose to eat cabbage for a week – well variations of it that are all unappealing except for the fruit – and would never be found in any part of my normal bush hugger (but not quite tree hugger) diet.

During this week of dieting, I expect a point I wonder why I am doing it. Typically feelings such as these are followed closely by shame, self disgust, remorse – a thesaurus full of guilt at my weakness. Then I look around me, at the absence of self deprivation and I wonder if they are judging me. Once you start speaking in tongues, someone will judge you – as will someone else when you decorate a piece of lettuce with basaltic vinegar for lunch.

The problem with being social is that you hang out with people, and you have drinks. The other problem is that this week, alcohol was not on my diet….I’m a back-slidden dieter. One Apperol Spritz with Luca my Italian coach – and I’m wondering what does this all mean?

Nothing written (except this blog)

Nothing edited – I’m running out of time

I lost another half pound or so – I forgot since I weighed myself this morning.

I have nothing but time….4 whole days.


FOUR Challenge – Day 2. Creating more tension

Day 2Don’t judge me but I decided to geek out on the graph. Apparently I have too much time on my hands. Actually – you can judge me all you want. Day 2 kicked off rather late. I won’t go into the list of excuses including late night. As the graphical presentation shows, I’m doing ok and Im not as lazy as I like to think I am. I ran my 5km at the end of the day. I mostly ate what i was supposed to. Apparently I was supposed to eat a potato, and i forgot about that. By the time I remembered, I was too lazy to go to the store.

I should talk about my lame attempt at writing. 1500 words in about three hours. Am I lacking inspiration? I learned two things today.

  1. Create more tension – I have chapters where there is not a lot of action happening besides setting the scene. This is required here and there. However, the trick is how to maintain tension when setting a scene. This Blog on Six steps to creating more tension helped. Some genres are easier than others. In my story a little boy gets lost in town and my task today was to fill in a part of the story that has been missing although the rest of the story is written. I almost made it. One way I gauge how engaged my readers could be is by evaluating how engaged I am when i write the chapter.
  2. Forced accountability with critique groups helps a lot. I have a date with a friend on Tuesday and she’ll get me to finish the chapter before then.

In three weeks and minus 4 pounds –  I have to hand over a completed draft to the boy to read through….

The FOUR Challenge – Day 1

The 7 days Goal: edit four chapters, write four thousand words, lose four pounds, exercise 4km four times.

Day 1 of the Cabbage soup diet consists of a large selection of fruit and a large selection of vegetables boiled together to make Cabbage soup. I actually decided to commit to the diet mid morning. Luckily, I hadn’t really eaten anything.

I woke up bright and early at 6:30 am because my bladder was bursting and I’d tried to ignore it for some time. I’d like to say I got up early to get ready for this busy challenge filled weekend, but I’d be exaggerating – a lot. I’m learning Italian and so I spent an hour on a vocabulary app while in bed. I typically use this method to justify procrastination.

I’ve just moved to a new apartment in NYC and so there are a couple of apartment/closet straightenings that still need to be done. I’d budgeted a few hours this weekend to clean this up. So I changed into my running gear first. I always do this so I don’t use the excuse of the stress related to dressing up to go running as a way to get out of it. I charged my iPod (yes, some people still have those) so that I wouldn’t use the lack of music as a reason not to run. I’ve done this before.

I grabbed a plum and a coffee and started tidying up after unsuccessfully trying to convince my boyfriend (in Europe) that I needed new sunglasses. He said something like I have a pair already and that the other two we got last year I left somewhere (I forgot one in a plane and another one in a shoe shop in Mainz). He doesn’t think that I should get Salvatore Ferragamo sunglasses on 5th Avenue or any sunglasses anywhere if they cost over $20. I could start by discussing the advantages of having a long distance boyfriend (and my own job).

Around 10:30 am I took off to Central Park just around the corner and did a very difficult 4 km run. Day 1 (or 2) of the heatwave was already underway and it was about 90 degrees. To add to the heat stress, I may have run a grand total of 15 km in the past year (about 10 of them were over two days in June).

After the run, I wasn’t as tired as I was expecting given the heat, the low caloric intake and the exercise. I was high on adrenalin and lavazzo coffee.  I cleaned the kitchen, grabbed a couple of apples and then took off to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a bathroom scale. Yes, I didn’t have one. As much as I was concerned about my weight, I had no idea what it was.

Mid afternoon, I made the cabbage soup. Lots of vegetables, spices and herbs. I hate cabbage, but not enough to substitute it with something else like broccoli. I would have, except that at the supermarket, the broccoli looked like it arrived at the store for 4th of July. I ate the cabbage soup. Unappetizing as I expected. So I ate a large bowl of fruit salad for dessert. The diet shouldn’t be so challenging for me because I’m typically a “eat to live” person and so as long as I eat something it’s usually sufficient. Except when I’m stressed, then I get picky.

I started editing a chapter. Editing is tedious. I didn’t finish or come close to. Passive voice. I have a lot of that. I need to get that aggressive voice going. So I gave up and fell asleep. I woke up at 7pm and started writing. I wrote 1000 words. Its not 4000, but I have a week.

So far, my challenge is going well. Its easy on a weekend. we’ll see how  well it goes after I return to work on Monday.

Image from  Baju Muslim Tabaru.


FOUR Chapters, FOUR thousand words, FOUR pounds, FOUR kilometers per day for FOUR Days Challenge

I decided that people are generally self limited. That a key component of success is to DO something. I’ve come up with numerous elaborate excuses about why I am packing on the cellulite, why I’m not finishing my book, and why I may never really be successful. Of course one of  my excuses is my day job, but thats not going anywhere any time soon.

So I created the FOUR challenge. Starting Saturday 15 August I put forward some ambitious goals.

Edit FOUR chapters. My Beta readers have given me a lot of feedback that I have not incorporated into the story yet. So out of approximately 25 Chapters, I have 6 done. This week I want to do FOUR.

Write FOUR thousand words. There is a gap in the story I have to fill. It may take a little less than 4000 words or a little more. But at least it will be done. If the story is not completed by the end of the year, I will feel like a loser. What happens to Farai when he is chased by Stanley, the crazy street kid. I will know after this weekend…

Lose FOUR pounds. I’ve steadily gained fat in the last year. With that, I gained 4 pounds. Much of that is not due to over-eating. Its just plain laziness. Lazy to exercise and lazy to cook decent meals (so I substitute with popcorn now and then). It’s starting to show. I have a vacation planned in September (Provence) and I’d like my current long distance relationship partner to not be creative about cellulite comments. These skinny Europeans. Annoying.

Enter Cabbage soup diet. I wont lose four pounds, I will lose maybe 6 or so after 7 days and gain about 3 or so back the first day I eat a regular meal. At least I jump start the 2 or 3 pound loss and challenge myself sufficiently. This one Im Ok falling short (over the 7 days).

FOUR km per day and I only have to do it FOUR times this week. If I can do this while on that crazy diet…

I forgot to mention the reward. OK, it’s nice when we can say that we are able to meet the challenge. I will feel good. Even better, I’ll feel ecstatic if I don’t fall back to my old lazy habits. But I get to buy myself a birthday gift at the end. Yes, ok, my birthday is in February but that’s just details…