20 books & 20 lbs (week 37): Rediscovering bodice rippers

I did a weigh-in on Sunday morning, at 4am, just prior to taking off for the marathon. My weight was a few pounds north of where I’d been the week prior. However, since I hadn’t finished sleeping, I figured that I could retake it on Monday at a more reasonable hour and see where I came in. Thanks to the marathon (and having slept more), I came in where I needed to be: still 11lbs down from my starting point.

I realize that it’s hard to lose weight, since it requires so many changes from the routine that got you to the point where you were. What’s actually comforting, though, is that I can see and feel results. Plus, when I put it into perspective, I’ve already lost 5% of my weight from when I started, and that’s typically a “gold star” kind of moment.

So, now: how to maintain? My downfall is really threefold.

Firstly, I still have desserts most nights. It’s become part of how I manage my blood sugar, making sure that I’m not waking up with such a deficit that I can’t function at all. I should probably choose something healthier (like cereal), but there is something remarkably wonderful (and quieter) about eating ice cream instead.

Second, I’m not always snacking healthily at work. I’m not dipping into the candy bag as much as I could, but I’m probably going to it more often than I should. And yes, I could dump the entire bag EXCEPT that I keep it there for others – and in my office, candy is like cigarettes in a prison. You can’t imagine what kind of goodwill it gets you when you have candy. (Or maybe YOU can.)

Third, I need to integrate exercise into my routine more than I already do. I recently signed up for a series of Monday night yoga classes at the studio near my house, so I’m hoping that will help. Of course, I’m immediately challenged on attending – the first night, I was recovering from the marathon the day prior, and the second night (tomorrow), we have an open house at dd’s school. But, and here’s where I hope I’m turning a corner, I STILL WENT to yoga, despite being creaky and sore, and we’ve already agreed that we’ll miss the open house because it’s important that I get to go to yoga.

I’ll work on it piece-by-piece. My goal of losing 20 lbs this year may not be attainable, but I haven’t given up trying.

Book #13: “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

My very first paying job -ever- was as a page in a public library about 20 minutes from my house. I had exactly two responsibilities: 1) shelve the books/magazines in such a fashion as to make it easy for patrons to find what they needed, and 2) refer any patrons with questions to the librarians. It was a sometimes quiet job, since I’d work efficiently and quickly, which left me with time to explore the books in other sections of the library than I usually inhabited at the tender age of 13 yrs and 9 mos old. That’s where I discovered Bertrice Small, who I realized was only one of a number of writers in the genre of the lengthy bodice-ripper, where women were perfectly happy being dominated by strong men and where women were CONSTANTLY in some sort of peril that the aforementioned strong men would rescue them from. Oh, and there was sex. Lots of it. Vividly described. And every woman had a mind-blowing experience *each and every time*. (Note to all teenagers: literature sometimes lies like a cheap rug.)

Fast forward nearly 27 years (wow – am I THAT old?) and I’m out for dinner with my friend, Jen, who’s been lucky enough to receive free copies of “Outlander” to distribute to some friends/other bloggers. I’d never heard of the fantasy/romance novel series, so I came into it fresh. The premise is rather interesting: a young nurse is on a second honeymoon with her husband, after a long separation due to World War II. In 1945 Scotland, Claire and Frank Randall are tentative lovers trying to re-learn what it’s like to be a couple again. While exploring some of the nearby pagan scenery, Claire is suddenly transported in time. She doesn’t realize it immediately, but she eventually comes to terms with the fact that she’s been moved back some 200 years in time – to a Scotland far removed from the one she left.

This is the portion of the story that then brings her to the endless cycle of “things that happen to Claire because that’s what happened back then.” Threats (or attempts) of rape. Battles. Torture. Being accused of and tried for witchcraft. On and on, the stream of events continues, sweeping her up in a never-ending tide of misery. She even escapes one form of misery through (seemingly) another: the forced marriage to one of the clansmen she met when she was captured just following her passage back in time.  And so, we now come to the bodice-ripping section of the book, where Claire and her paramour, Jamie Fraser, have enough sex that you start to wonder how she can manage to ride a horse for any length of time.

Of course, I make jokes…but it was an interesting read. It’s entertaining, it’s an incredibly fast read – which is no small feat for a book that tips the scales at more than 800 pages – and the characters are well drawn. Where I take issue with the book is the fact that “Outlander” spends so much time putting Claire into harm’s way that you get the sense that people of that time either spent their lives in quiet misery or were constantly in fear of just about everything. It’s a bit of a caricature, and I got tired of Claire and Jamie getting into horrible situation after horrible situation. At several points, I just wanted it to stop, if only so that I could stop tensing up about the possibility that the next flower she would step on would create an international incident.

Clearly, the books sell well: Gabaldon has put out book after book in the series, and there’s recent news that STARZ is working on a series based on the books. And so, it’s possible that I may just continue reading the “Outlander” series, once I get through the remainder of the books needed to finish off the twenty I planned for this year. I will say, though, it’s highly likely that I’ll be doing just what all those Bertrice Small fans did back in the day…and check them out of the library.

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