Can we talk about food? Honestly, I don’t know how our heroines aren’t big as houses–most of the lifestyle books I’ve read about the Regency suggest that butter was big, and vegetables weren’t. Plus dinners were long, drawn-out events with course upon course upon course.
If I had lived during that time, I would be challenging Prinny to a weight-off.
Why am I talking about this? Because, like a lot of women, my eating is psychologically motivated. My agent is in the midst of submitting my Regency-set historical, Lessons In Love, and so far I’ve gotten three [very nicely-worded] rejections. My immediate response has been to head for the cookies. My next response has been to think about how I’m getting older (I’m 42; here I am in one of my favorite vintage dresses. It hides a lot.), the metabolism seems to be slowing, working out is hard enough without carrying extra poundage, and really, eating cookies is such a silly reaction. So I settle for a rice cake or iced coffee or something. I’ve still gained a few pounds, but at least it’s not more than a few pounds.
I’m guessing some of the more expertish of Riskies know exactly what the ladies did back then to keep from expanding like the universe–constantly. There was all that needlework, the occasional sidesaddle horseback ride, walking around the gardens, changing clothes, writing letters, etc., etc. No elliptical for those women.
I am guessing that some of you, as well as my fellow Riskies, also have “bad” reasons for eating; what do you do to stave it off? (And why does eating have to be “good” or “bad”?) What’s your favorite ‘me time’ indulgence? How do you think our heroines kept their slim, girlish figures?
I’m afraid that I would go straight to the Godiva Chocolate or worse, I usually head to a bookstore.
Sandy L (anonymous because my password isn’t working, geez!)
Many of the women walked a lot — Jane Austen certainly did. And in Bath in particular, if you walk a lot, you get a lot of exercise. 🙂
Our heroines may have had slim, girlish figures too because I suspect the adults kept the truly yummy food for themselves — so the girls were brought up on sensible food, came out, were married off quickly, and then they could eat buttered eggs every day knowing their husbands couldn’t divorce them for being plump. 🙂
(Besides, I think their standard of beauty was for a significantly softer and curvier woman than we prefer.)
As to my eating habits… I don’t have a lot of great ones. One thing I do that works, though, is when I eat out, I eat half my dinner and bring the other half home to be another meal.
Such self control, Cara. When I go out I eat as much of my dinner as I can, then, if there is anything left, I can’t even bear to think about it, I’m so stuffed.
I think there were only two meals a day, really. Breakfast and dinner. Luncheon or Nuncheon was for those very early risers, I think.
I can imagine at the long extended dinners that the Regency heroine could get very sick of eating (like I do with my dinners out) and pick at the rest of the food. Besides, that handsome hero exchanging glances with her from across the table is much too distracting.
You’re psychic, Megan — at least about my current heroine. Because you were quite possibly writing this post while I was settling her at her writing desk with an apple and some nasty gruel. And this is 1828, so she has to contend with lower, tighter waistlines at her ripe old age of 36. She thinks she’s going out walking on the Rotten Row for the exercise, but I’ve got further torments in store for her.
I have the hardest time losing weight. It seems like when I’m upset or stressed out I crave anything. So I’m trying to learn self control and it’s hard. I quit buying sweets and have stocked my fridge with fruits and veggies. It’s a start.
I think wearing the tight corsets cut down on how much they could eat. My indulgence when things get stressful is eating ice cream straight out of the carton.
Oh, I’m a stress eater too. It helps that at least I am good about regular exercise. The other thing I do is to make sure I eat healthier things first, that way at least I get some good nutrition and don’t indulge quite so heavily in the sweet stuff.
The tough thing is that chocolate really does seem to help with the writing. 🙂
Speaking for men, we don’t necessarily want women to be skinny as rails. Two words: Calista Flockhart. Need I say more?
But if you must worry about weight, here’s another handy Regency weight-loss tip: lack of refrigeration can lead to recurrent bouts of pound-blasting food poisoning! Watch the weight fade away! And at the very small cost of wishing you were dead.