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The purpose of this website is to get all women, but particularly women of color, to embrace the reality that getting healthy can be fun—if we do it in community and in the presence of art. And men are welcome, too!

Ada's Rules is a work of fiction. Neither this website nor the book Ada's Rules are intended to provide specific nutritional or medical advice for any individual. Before making significant changes in diet, consult a qualified professional.

The novels, short films, music, poetry, essays, interviews and photography provided on this site are intended to inspire, sustain, and entertain people pursuing healthy changes and to provoke conversations. They are not intended as specific instructions for any individual.

  1. Create your own plan for health.
  2. Be proud of the body you have now.
  3. Be ready to change that body, while still loving it as it is.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Check in with our Facebook group. Join a health group at your church, community center, or workplace. Create a book club that walks and talks. Walk with your girlfriends. Find allies.
  5. When you can’t make change for yourself, make it for future generations.

Ada’s Rule 34: Don’t stay off the wagon when you fall off.

As you think about how you might or might not incorporate some of Ada's Rules into your own life (after discussion with a qualified medical professional, of course), read how a group of ladies in Nashville worked (and didn’t work) the rules into their lives.

Later, click on Inspiration and you can see two portfolios that include photographs of these Adas in action.

Samantha B.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because this certified and immensely popular Zumba® instructor who founded Sistagirl Fitness went from seriously unfit to Zumba® wow!

What’s your favorite rule?
1. Don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
11. Get eight hours of sleep nightly.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
4. Be a role model.
8. See your doctor.
10. Budget: Plan to afford the feeding, exercising, and dressing of you.
16. Add a second exercise three times a week.
53. Do it for you.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
Stick to what you’re trying to do. Research! Get more information about the different things that are out there that can help you continue to keep the weight off. It is a constant struggle trying to remain at your weight loss goal, or move beyond it. To do that, you have to continue to incorporate all this into your lifestyle. It’s not about a diet; it’s a lifestyle change, including how you look at food.

A lot of her rules are great, like implement extra exercise into your week. A lot of people get stuck doing the same exercise. Remember you have to incorporate toning exercises because certain classes or exercises don’t target certain parts on your body. It’s also important to alternate your exercise routine so you won’t get bored.

Another good tip is dress for the way you look now. As you’re going down in size, try to get clothes that fit you where you are so that you look good and feel confident about yourself as you continue to see the change. If you keep wearing the baggy clothes, you don’t see the change. For me, even today I find myself today purchasing clothes that are too big for me because I don’t visualize myself the size I really am. I asked my doctor and she said because I’ve spent the majority of my life at a certain weight, the brain doesn’t visualize you where you are now; it’s used to you being a certain weight. That was interesting to learn to me.

Being a role model is a huge incentive to other people who are trying to get what you’re doing. Don’t be embarrassed to tell people where you came from to be where you are now. People see me now and can’t believe I weighed 305 pounds until I show them a picture, and they say, "Wow, if she can do it, I can do it, too."

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
When it comes to eating, a lot of times we sit there and say I need to lose weight and I need to not eat this, but you continue to still do it and you wonder why you don’t feel well or see any improvement. Then you make excuses such as, “A little bit won’t hurt.” Sometimes a little bit will hurt if you don’t try to make a complete change. I’m not saying you cannot have something, but you can’t continue to do it the way you were living before eating certain foods. Cut back to once in a while to make it a treat. Don’t make it a part of your everyday lifestyle as you were before.

This whole journey has been incredible to me. I never thought I would be in the fitness industry. As a teenager I was a cheerleader and did all that stuff. Then when I went to college, I got into that rut. Then it was ten years of actually gaining the weight. Then in that 10th year, my body decided it wasn’t going to take it anymore.

I was rushed to the hospital from work. This happened twice. My vision got very blurry and my chest started acting up. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Fortunately, they didn’t find anything. They realized it probably was stress related. The experience of having to go to the hospital and have all the mandatory tests they have you go through for your heart was all very scary for me. I was only thirty-five years old. I realized then I cannot allow my lifestyle or my eating to kill me. It was a realization for me that I had to change.

If I didn’t have the insurance plan that I have, Lord knows I couldn’t have had all the tests done that I had.

The next day, I remembered I had a gym membership. It was about to expire and I went to the gym and found a personal trainer. Ashley was a life-saver for me. She trained me for a year. I was dedicated. I’d get off from work go train with her twice a week and train on my own. It was that important.

I stopped doing what I was doing. Sometimes you need a reality smack.

Sometimes we see the warning signs, but when the real ones hit, that’s when we look up and say I’ve got to do something different.

Shani D.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because she ably leads the Nashville’s Teach for America region, effectively balancing a concern for students, parents, teachers, and the larger community, while raising her young daughter and supporting her husband who leads a network of charter schools.

What’s your favorite rule?
I have two: 1. Don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing. That’s more of a spiritual one. A more tactile one is don’t socialize over drinks, socialize over exercise.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
11. Get eight hours of sleep nightly.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
3. Weigh yourself daily.
17. Drink eight glasses of water daily.
22. Add a Zen exercise: hooping, waterjogging, watsu, or yoga.
27. Don’t initiate change you can’t stick with for five years.
38. Fake it till you make it.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with working the rules?
For the first one, commit to doing five things every day you don’t want to do. That helps you build up your willpower toward the end of the day when it’s weakest—if you realize, “okay, I just have to do five things I don’t want to do.” Usually things in that category include going to the gym, drinking water, or eating a small portion of something.

For rule 42. Uni-up: Get yourself a uniform for day and for night, I find it helps not being afraid to buy the same outfit or shirt in multiple colors if it fits well. I also find black with accessories is a hit!

This connects to socializing over exercising, finding another purpose during exercise. Finding another reason besides just yourself to exercise and make healthy choices. I’m running a 1/2 marathon with other people for work, and I’m raising money. I’m sure if I had just done it for myself, by myself, I wouldn’t have felt as committed going into the group.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
Be selfish! For example, before Ada's Rules, by the end of the day, I would always feel very bad if I hadn’t picked up my daughter from daycare before 5 p.m. What I would do before reading Ada's Rules, if I didn’t leave the office by 4 p.m. I wouldn’t go to the gym, but it only takes 30 minutes for me to work out and it’s only 30 extra minutes for her at daycare. It helped me to realize some of the choices you make are going to be fine. It’s going to be okay if my daughter is in daycare for an additional 30 or 40 minutes while I do something I need to do. The big lesson is not putting yourself on the bottom of the list of priorities.

Shay H.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: She’s an aspiring yogi with a law degree and real estate license who makes the dream of home ownership a reality—and often makes the dream of a perfect home a reality. She’s also a mom to two and a doctor’s wife.

What’s your favorite rule?
3. Weigh yourself daily. It reminds me where I've been and motivates me to keep moving toward where I want to be.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
9. Do the DNA test.
I’ve never heard of a test to determine the types of foods you should be eating, but I think it makes sense. Most women may find it too costly though.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
4. Be a role model.
10. Budget: Plan to afford the feeding, exercising, and dressing of you.
17. Drink eight glasses of water daily.
29. Use consultants: trainers, massage therapists, nutritionists, and priests.
30. Massage your own feet.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
Coincidentally, a lot of the "pearls of wisdom" in the book and rules are things I’ve been doing. My weight loss program started in April 2011, and it has been a process for me to change my habits about healthy living. Reading the book really helped to motivate me to get back on track. For me, Ada's Rules is more than a novel, it was entertainment, of course, but even more so, it was a catalyst for my change.

Alice put together a group of women to participate in a yoga class for eight weeks during the time we also read the book. The opportunity to be exposed to yoga, to read the book, and to work the rules came into my life at the right time. Because of it, I am on the path to becoming a better, thinner person.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
Don’t keep believing the societal norms in the African American culture that women, in order to be attractive to black men, have to have big hips and bottoms. That belief is killing us. Know that being thinner is better and healthier. After all, there's nothing attractive about diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, aching backs and knees, and squeezing in to clothes that are uncomfortable. Be selfish. You owe it to yourself to do what’s right for yourself. Plainly put, kick-ass divas can have a healthy BMI and be attractive.

P.S.
You can still keep a cute hairstyle and workout on a consistent basis, too. Try it, you'll see.

Aisha D.

Why She’s a Lt. Col. in Ada’s Army: Because this biomedical engineering major is a fierce but compassionate competitor--and a founding member of the “Healthy Curves” group at her college.

What’s your favorite rule?
4. Be a role model.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
12. Eat breakfast. I’m not a breakfast person at all.

What do you usually do?
I usually wait until lunch. Sometimes I’ll grab a snack in the morning instead of having a big breakfast. Typically I have a big lunch and a medium dinner and a snack before I go to bed.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
11. Get eight hours of sleep.
15. Keep a food diary and a body journal.
21. Access the power of quick fixes.
37. Get better hair.
46. Create your own spa week.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
Find a dessert that works for you. Because I’m a big dessert person, my challenge is finding healthy desserts. I now substitute fruit and other sweet things for cake.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I guess eating dessert all the time. I have a giant sweet tooth. I’ll get to the end of the day and then eat six cookies. That, and probably making the habit of working out everyday.

What’s your favorite way to work out?
I don’t really have a favorite. I love running and playing sports in general because I’m really competitive.

Florence K.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because she was a point of light under President Bush and a Milken Principal of the Year. Widowed young, Florence did it all while raising two sons who have established healthy marriages and careers.

What’s your favorite rule?
11. Get eight hours of sleep nightly. Sleep is crucial. For years when I was teaching I forced myself to go to sleep at nine. Now scientists are saying getting enough sleep is a key to getting and keeping weight off. And that ties into my other favorite rule. 4. Be a role model. I can be a role model for get enough sleep.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
19. Eat slowly. I have to work on that! I’m a pretty fast eater, probably because I was an educator and taught little kids so you had to eat your food fast. We have to learn to eat slower and not over eat.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
7. Walk thirty minutes a day, every day. I’ve been trying to walk three times a week. I haven’t gotten up to thirty minutes a day yet, but I’d like to.
8. See your doctor. I grew up in a medical family—my father was a doctor and my first husband was a doctor. It’s really important to your health.
12. Eat breakfast.
20. Find a snack you like that likes you.
48. Seize the proper props. For me, that’s scarves, shoes, purses, sunglasses, and respect.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
Get a walking machine for when you cannot walk outside.

I’ve been on lots of diets, but I think eating smaller portions and eating kind of what you want, but being very mindful of what it is, and eating a small amount—a fistful rather than a plateful is best.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
For me, it is back to portion control and watching what you drink. I’ll tell you a secret I’ve learned: I love orange juice and fruit tea, but I can only drink them in moderation. Drinking them through out the day, I realized I was drinking all these calories.

Drink eight glasses of water daily and try to stay away from the sweet drinks.

LaVoneia S.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because she has provided outstanding leadership to many principals, thousands of students, and one Links, Incorporated Chapter.

What’s your favorite rule?
12. Eat breakfast.
So many people don’t. I’ve always eaten breakfast; that’s the most important meal of the day. That’s how I grew up.

What rule did you have the most trouble with and why?
16. Add a second exercise three times a week.
I’m not exercising three times a week, so I’m not having trouble with the rule, I’m having trouble following that rule.

What’s standing in your way?
Lethargy, I guess. I’ve gotten out of the habit. Once my schedule changes, it’s kind of hard getting back in the habit of it.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
3. Weigh yourself daily. I do that.
11. Get eight hours of sleep nightly. I do that.
17. Drink eight glasses of water a day. I have done that for years.
18. Eat sitting down.
48. Seize the proper props. For me, that means scarves, shoes, purses, sunglasses, and respect.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
I really haven’t come up with any additional tip or ideas. She has more than I could have ever thought of.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I like the rules that say, “Don’t stay off the wagon when you fall off,” and “You will fall off the wagon.” Give yourself some slack if you fall off the wagon; get back on the next day. My mom used to come visit me when I was going to the spa and gym regularly. I was interrupted when she’d come to visit, and after a week or two not doing it, it was torture getting that pattern back. So if you fall off, give yourself some slack. You’ll get back on that horse. And do what works for you.

Tracy H.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because she successfully raised a son while founding a construction company and a pop-up art gallery with her husband.

What’s your favorite rule?
13. Self medicate with art: quash boredom and anxiety.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
14. Consider surgery.
In my mind, the weight that I have gained is definitely an outer manifestation of an inner issue. I feel as if a change is taking place toward living a healthier life by addressing and overcoming the issues at the source. I view surgery as a quick fix that does not necessarily address the lifelong changes that need to take place.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
11. Get eight hours of sleep nightly.
34. Don’t stay off the wagon when you fall off.
42. Uni-up: Get yourself a uniform for day and for night.
48. Seize the proper props.
53. Do it for you.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
In order to head down the right path, you have to know your passions and embrace them, regardless of how others view them.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I am guilty of doing what I have always been doing. However, something that has really helped me recently is concentrating on reducing stress in healthier ways. Exercise is still an issue. There were things that I did as a child that I have not taken the time to do in recent years as much as I used to—like reading more and playing violin. As these activities are incorporated more into my schedule, I have found that my stress is not as great and my snacking has reduced.

Katherine B.

Why She’s a Lt. Col in Ada’s Army: Because of her commitment to multi-generation fitness within families. This future nurse is running a half-marathon with her mother and aunt this spring--and she helped found the “Healthy Curves” exercise group at her college this past winter.

What’s your favorite rule?
19. Eat slowly.
That’s only because I feel like when I read that, it automatically made sense to me. I think that eating a little slower would give the food I’m eating more time to digest and maybe I would eat a little less and take in fewer calories.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
The same one. I have to catch myself now when I’m eating to slow it down. It’s mentally training myself.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
3. Weigh yourself daily. I hate stepping on the scale, but I know to see progress, you have to see numbers.
7. Walk thirty minutes a day, every day.
11. Get eight hours of sleep nightly. At Vanderbilt, there’s no way I get eight hours of sleep, even on the weekends. Trying to make time for that is a workout in itself. Getting eight hours of sleep nightly would be beautiful. But these rules all tie in together for a healthy lifestyle. There are things I definitely struggle with but these are things I definitely want to have.
12. Eat breakfast. I never seem to have time for it but I love breakfast food.
40. Shop for your future self.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
When I work out, I find it easier when I’m running or working out to have something to look at. I want more than being on the treadmill, so I go outside and do a path at the park. It gives me sites to see and you can make certain intervals for yourself after you build up so much. Also build up to new goals—at the end of the semester, I’m running the Country Music City 1/2 marathon—and with that in mind, I know I have to be prepared, which then motivates me daily to run. Having goals keeps me going. Having something more to do while I’m working out, something that entertains me, and working out with other people help motivate me. And it’s important to know we’re all at different levels. For example, I may be faster than my friend but I wouldn't want her to be discouraged and I would not want to slow myself down to stay with her. I would be hindering myself. Knowing all of this can be very beneficial when you’re exercising.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I have a cycle that tends to happen when I notice I can fit in certain kinds of clothes—that’s how I measure myself, rather than stepping on a scale. I find myself slipping back into my old eating habits and I get back to eating whatever I want. After a while, the weight is back on and I feel uncomfortable about myself again. Then I have to do the whole cycle all over again. Don’t do what you’ve always been doing—if you have a healthy lifestyle or trying to promote someone else's don't get too comfortable. Don’t get too comfortable with yourself because the end result may not be what you wanted and you may end up repeating an old cycle.

How do you break that cycle now?
For example, when I’m torn between two things I want to eat, I make a decision. I ask myself what I will be happier with in the end. If there’s an apple and a pancake in the morning—I know that the pancake would taste better now but the apple would look good on me later. I'll feel much better about my body later, having eaten the apple. It’s a mentality you have to have. I don’t want to consider dieting as something temporary—I want to change, create a lifestyle change, become a healthier eater, and incorporate other things. Being able to balance what I'm eating and working it off is breaking the cycle.

Stephanie P.

What's your favorite rule?
20. Shop for your future self. I am a discerning shopper who does not waste money. If I buy it, I have full intention to use it. The pair of black shorts I bought last summer that wouldn't zip all the way, let alone even think about buttoning, fit me now! Every time I saw them in my drawer, I remembered my body goals and took another step towards whole body health.

What rule did you have the most problems with?
9. Do the DNA test. I'm still thinking about that one...

What 5 additional rules were favorites?
5. Don't attack your own team; don't let anyone on your team attack you.
10. Budget: Plan to afford the feeding, exercising, and dressing of you.
13. Self-medicate with art: Quash boredom and anxiety.
31. Drink Cautiously: no juice, no soft drinks, no food coloring.
37. Get better hair.
51. Cultivate new interests.

Any tips?
I started looking at myself in a mirror for at least 5 full minutes everyday. It was excruciating at first. Five minutes is a long time. But the truth is that I can't love something or someone I don't know. I am getting to know my physical self in ways that enable and encourage me to take better care of me. I'm a writer, so I'm in my head a lot. I also want to live comfortably in my body.

What’s your best example of living the don't keep doing like you’ve always been doing rule?
I used to schedule at least three lunch meetings a week, often more. It was a chance to try new restaurants and eat indulgent foods, all while checking work items off of my to do list. Food was not fuel for my body, it was social and business related. It was my motivation to be productive. As if talking to a 4-year-old: eat all your veggies and you'll get dessert. Talk through this boring contract and I'll get panna cotta. Now, I schedule meetings for mid-morning and afternoon times. I also invite people to discuss potential projects with me as we walk through the latest exhibit at an art museum or sit at a park table near the water. The unusual settings spawn more insightful conversations and ultimately meaningful partnerships. And I'm developing a healthier relationship with food.

Sydney T.
Why She’s a Lt. Col. in Ada’s Army: This National Honor Society Inductee and future doctor has been actively involved in the exploration of foodways since her high school days in a Family and Consumer Science Club. She, too, is a founding member of the “Healthy Curves” exercise group at her college.

What’s your favorite rule?
24. Manage portion sizes.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
17. Drink eight glasses of water daily.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
1. Don't keep doing what you've always been doing.
17. Drink eight glasses of water daily.
19. Eat slowly.
34. Don't stay off the wagon when you fall off.
38. Fake it till you make it. For me, that’s fine foundations and wide smiles.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
No.

Is there an example of don't keep doing what you've always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I had to get rid of the things and the foods that hold me back and that hinder my progress. I got rid of all of the unhealthy junk foods and I restocked my dorm room with healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, 100-calorie snacks, and lots and lots of water.

Kecia C.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because she’s an outstanding physician who knows just how hard and how rewarding a successful fitness makeover can be.

What’s your favorite rule?
25. Eat every three hours.

What rule did you have the most trouble with and why?
15. Keep a food diary and a body journal.
I may start my food journal in the morning, but I totally forget as soon as the day gets busy.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
3. Weigh yourself daily.
7. Walk thirty minutes a day, every day.
8. See your doctor.
12. Eat breakfast.
20. Find a snack you like that likes you.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
For the rule, eat every three hours, it helps to think about and plan your meals and snacks for the day ahead of time. Sometimes it can be hard to find healthy snacks. I bring healthy snacks with me to work that I can eat when I'm hungry so I don’t have to depend on what’s available. My favorite snacks are 100-calorie microwavable popcorn, oatmeal packets, single-serving cheese, and nuts. When I have one of those to go to, I make much better snack choices.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
Exercising is a great example. A few years ago, a friend suggested that I join a walk/run group and train for the Country Music 1/2 marathon. I had not been exercising regularly but I decided to give it a try. So I joined a walk/run group and we started training months in advance. We had goals to meet during the week and we would meet for the longer runs on the weekends. Although the thought of doing a 1/2 marathon was intimidating, I soon realized I really enjoyed the process. Sometimes we can be intimidated to get out and exercise and set goals, but I would encourage women to go ahead and give it a try. They’ll be surprised at what they can do.

Toni B.

Why She’s a Lt. Col. in Ada’s Army: Because she’s the agile quarterback of her flag football team “WNFL” and a multi-lingual humanist.

What’s your favorite rule?
Chapter 30 was my utmost favorite: Massage your own feet. It was my favorite because it is something I really related to; something my mom told me to do a long time ago. Never be afraid to massage your own feet—I was shocked to find it in a book. It is such a fundamental thing, I think people should do it more often. Love on yourself.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
32. Bathe to calm or bathe to excite. The recipes for baths—trying to bathe in things. I tried it out and that found it was hard for me to relax in that manner. I realize what she was getting at, a lot of people find baths relaxing, but trying to force myself to do something was counter-productive for me. That rule just did not work for me.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
Chapter 12, Eat breakfast. I do that every day. I really like it. It is so true, when I’m in class, I’m always alert. It’s definitely been helping me. I’ve been doing it for two weeks now, and I feel it’s really working for my weight. Also, I did plan number two (Make a plan: Set clear, multiple, and changing goals.), and I changed my diet, so I’m on a low-sodium and high-fiber diet. I have lost some weight. I’ve lost water weight.

Also, I combine 12, with 18, and 19: Eat sitting down and eat slowly. Now I do the other two more.

What are your other favorite rules?
25. Eat every three hours. I do not get that craving to eat so much chocolate or junk food as before. I never really ate regularly before. Now, I eat five times a day and plan for it, and it is easier to eat healthier that way.

17. Drink eight glasses of water daily. That helps out a lot. I participate in many sports and am very active. I realized I did not drink as much water as I should have been. I thought I made up for it with sports drinks during the day. Now that I am drinking more water, I find my complexion is clearing up. I do not drink any soft drinks at all anymore. This stuff is crazy interesting.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with working the rules?
Planning ahead. There are a lot of times when I first started the five times a day eating rule and I was not planning ahead. I would only have so much time, five minutes, so I never really made the best decisions. Some of the foods had a lot of sodium in them and I would be almost at my max for the day before the day had even really started. To help that, I sat down and made a schedule to plan ahead what I would eat each week. This helped me eat more healthfully and lose those few key pounds.

I also did my research on vitamins. Now I focus on different vitamins for each day. I looked up all the mega vitamins and what food has the most food has of those vitamins. Realistically, I do not like carrots, but I needed them for particular vitamins, so knowing what other foods also contained that vitamin, and was "me-friendly" helped a lot in my healthier eating plans.

Now, I have created a high-fiber, low-sodium diet, with a focus on certain vitamins each day. So one day is a vitamin C and vitamin A day, while another is set aside for protein. You want to incorporate the foods everyday, but at least one day a week I definitely have it.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I was one of those people who slept right until fifteen minutes until I had to go to class. By doing this, I never gave myself time to eat breakfast, and if I did grab something, it usually was not healthy. My advice is give yourself enough time. In the past, I would grab foods in the spur of the moment without considering if they were healthy or not. Now, I wake up at 8 a.m. everyday (which is not my solution for everyone!) and give myself at least two hours to eat breakfast and mentally prepare for the classes to come. This has had an impact on not only my weight, but also my performance in early classes. Another quick thing about fiber foods is that they take time to chew, so you almost have to take your time eating them, which is conducive to the rule of taking your time to eat.

Overall, I have taken on the philosophy that eating is necessary for survival, so you should really set time aside for it.

Kia B.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: She’s a life-long learner with more than a decade’s experience in progressive private school education.

What’s your favorite rule?
41. Take one bite of anything and never more than two bites of anything decadent.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?

45. Update your goals. I'm working on getting more organized with my healthy living progress.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
I'm trying to incorporate most of the rules in different ways. They're all empowering and I see how they are moving me towards a transformation. It's been really important for me to have a group of women to work alongside as I acclimate to my lifestyle changes.
Rule.
5. Don't attack your own team; Don't let anyone on the team attack you.
22. Add Zen exercise have been particularly important. I was already doing yoga alone but doing it in a group was fulfilling.
20. Finding snacks that my body likes has been especially fulfilling.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
Have patience with yourself. Be honest about what you can do and what you can’t do when you’re facing a major lifestyle change. This personal journey is so fulfilling when we truly personalize it and make it our own. There is no single right or wrong path, only the positive direction of healthy living. Drinking lots of water (Rule 17) throughout the day has been a big part of my health strategy. I love cold, cold water, so I build several 3 minute breaks into my work day to walk from my office to the ice machine. I also try to eat my water in the form of fruits and veggies with a high moisture content. Like Ada and her walking, it's also helped me to embrace exercises I really like so that I stick to it and don't get so frustrated.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
I'm changing the way I think about situations involving my body and health. I have to think different to be different. I'm looking at myself with a more objective eye and being less emotionally driven when it comes to my commitment to health. I'm going to stay on this path. Even if I fall off the wagon from time to time, I'll be able to get right back on. And that’s Rule 34.

Celeste W.

Why She’s a General in Ada’s Army: Because she is knowledgeable about service learning and a professor who knows and shows how to craft service learning experiences that benefit both the community and the learner.

What’s your favorite rule?

I don’t really have favorite rules, but I have some that are more meaningful to me depending on where I am.
50. Celebrate dappled beauty daily—the power of the imperfect and good enough.
That one is particularly important to me today. Coming to the realization that just like everyone else, I am perfectly imperfect in this moment, I’m the best me in this moment and that’s good enough. That speaks to where I am now, but doesn’t mean I don’t set goals for later. It’s embracing the self as it is now and that is meaningful and has been a journey for me. Fighting against the images popular culture has put out there in terms of aesthetics—most of those people don’t look that way anyways—getting that idea out of your head that that is perfection. It’s about forgetting the notion that any of us can be perfect. Embracing that imperfection that makes us all so beautiful, that is important.

What rule did you have the most trouble with?
Honestly, 12. Eat breakfast. I like breakfast but I never really ate it for breakfast in a consistent way. Since my teenage years, I’d skip breakfast and the pattern would be I’d eat more later on during the day. Or I’d save up and eat comfort food right before bed. I had it in my head that if I skipped breakfast in some way I am saving calories for later. I could not wrap my head around; it was counter-intuitive. Now I’m eating breakfast every morning and I’m feeling better physically. But I still sort of raise an eyebrow. Ironically that has been the hardest one for me.

What are five of your other favorite rules?
One that I really like is 3. Weigh yourself daily. At first, I didn’t like the redundancy of that—often times you’re the same weight. But once I connected that to my food diary and body journal (rule 15) it kept me honest. I couldn’t continue eating stuff late at night while watching a movie and acting like it didn’t matter. The weight was the measure. When I did those things, the weight didn’t go down. It keeps me honest about what I’m consuming and if I’m gaining weight. And it helps me catch myself if I’m gaining weight. If I gain 5 pounds, then I know I’m falling back into old patterns. It helps me catch myself so I can ask why I'm falling back into those patterns: What is it that I’m really feeling now? Is there a need that’s not being met? Am I feeling something that is producing anxiety? It’s not easy but it’s valuable.

Any great tips or ideas you’ve come up with for working the rules?
She has a rule, 17. Drink eight glasses of water daily. I do that and have to consume the eight glasses of water before I consume any other beverage. I can’t slip a soda in. Diet soda is not really good for you. I guess it’s a good switch from regular to diet, but then when you look at what’s in the diet soda, that’s a problem, too.

I got off regular soda and got on diet sodas and realized that wasn’t really working either. I wanted to count the diet soda as half a water. So I said I have to drink eight glasses of water before I drink soda and once I do that, there’s not room for soda or coffee or juice. So as soon as I get up, I start drinking water.

I love rule 34. Don’t stay off the wagon when you fall off. That’s probably a reality—it’s good to know there’s a place to go when you fall and that is to stand back up and get back on. I realize that part of the process stops me from beating myself up. I ask myself what did I learn, what the trigger was, and move on. That one has been pretty powerful for me, too.

Ironically, you’d think eating every three hours (Rule 25) would be a good thing, but for me, I tend to eat two really big meals, but now it’s more planning. You’re almost trained to starve yourself but once I got into the routine, there’s not room for those big binges. Lately, I incorporated another thing, stretching.

Is there an example of don’t keep doing what you’ve always been doing that you would like to share to inspire others?
Start with something small. Eating breakfast is kind of small but it’s not. It’s small because you think most people get up and eat breakfast. Now it seems small. Choose one thing rather than looking at everything you think is out of whack. For me, it was adding a healthy breakfast because I never ate breakfast consistently. Once you feel like you have that as part of your consistent routine, change something else and add it to your routine too. It’s about realizing it’s not going to take three days to release all of those unwanted pounds; you don’t zip out of your fat suit. Change one thing even though it may feel strange to change that one thing, and then don’t judge yourself for it feeling strange. Just do it and take note of the difference it makes. And sometimes the difference isn’t just seen in your weight. It can be felt in your confidence or energy. And all those things are important, too.

And if you’re not moving, get moving. Find something you love to do, if it’s dancing and putting on your favorite old school jams, get moving around your house and move your body. One of the things I see in myself, I don’t want to be one of those older folks who are moving so slowly because I didn’t take care of myself. I’m not saying that why some elderly folks are not as mobile, but for me and my family history, that may be the case. So I’m trying to figure out now what do I do to make my quality of life better later. You have to get a stretching routine—it’s just as important as cardio and building your strength.