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Ask E. Jean for DearSugar: Can I Do It All?

Dear E. Jean,
I have quite a dilemma. At Christmas my boyfriend gave me some La Perla lingerie. It is so beautiful (Black Label, slightly Goth, with transparent cutouts) almost any woman would look gorgeous in it. Unfortunately I did not look so gorgeous. I hadn’t been working out, I’d been overeating, and I’d developed a pop tummy. I looked good, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t look great.

My boyfriend was very complimentary and said I looked “beautiful,” but I made a secret vow on the spot. I promised myself to drop ten pounds and surprise my boyfriend with how hot I could really look in his lingerie.

I started my program on Dec. 26, went to a well-known nutritionist, and hired a trainer. E. Jean, my investment is paying off! I’ve lost seven-and-a-half pounds! What a difference! Even better, my boyfriend has been away for the last three weeks training for a new job. He’ll return Feb. 11. So when he walks in the door I can surprise him with the new me for Valentine’s Day! I’m totally psyched!

The problem? My nutritionist has me eating my biggest meal at lunch time. Her rule is I must eat certain foods in certain amounts. And so now after lunch I’m so groggy, so damn sleepy all I want to do is curl up and nap the whole afternoon. My brain feels like a drum. I can’t take a nap because I am a speechwriter at a government agency and I’m in meetings all afternoon.

Yesterday the worst happened. I fell asleep during a conference. Late yesterday I received an “I’m so disappointed in you” email from my boss. When I frantically called my nutritionist, she told me to just “stay focused” and that the eating plan is “working.” I know it’s working. But I'm in a fog! Help! I want to lose weight, not lose my job! — Bring Me Some La Perla Pajamas!

To see E. Jean's answer

My Delicious Darling,

Now now, don’t fret. You can lose weight, impress your boss, and make a Valentine’s Day appearance in lingerie that will spin your boyfriend’s eyes 'til Easter.

Simply divvy up your prescribed lunch into three smaller servings and eat one serving at noon, one at 2 p.m. and one at 4. (Or divide it into four portions and eat a serving every hour.)

You will be slightly hungry, but recent studies done by Tamas Horvath, Professor and Head of Comparative Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, show that you will be smarter, sharper, friskier, and your memory will perform with more agility if you stay slightly hungry. Dr. Horvath says this discovery makes evolutionary sense, because “if an animal is hungry it needs extra brainpower and ingenuity to find that vital next meal.” (Or in your illustrious case, your next paycheck.)

When I ran across Dr. Horvath’s ongoing study, I immediately tried it, and bango! No more brain bloat. Plus I felt my IQ shooting up about 700 points. And last night I was reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography — one of the most brilliant and delightful books ever written — and old Ben made the same discovery when he was a teenager.

He noticed that when he ate less (he was saving money to buy books) he learned more. So . . . after a “light repast” of a “biscuit or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins, or a tart from the pastry cook’s,” Franklin went on to invent the lightning rod, bifocals, the odometer, the first lending library, the first fire department, Poor Richard’s Almanack, The University of Pennsylvania, and the glorious United States of America. All because he did not let a nutritionist cause his brain to fog over after lunch.

Your eating plan is fine. Space out your servings. At 2:30 sit quietly in your chair, close your eyes, and take a quick 10-minute nap. It will refresh you And congrats on the seven-and-a-half pounds. Buy your boyfriend some super-cool-looking boxers for Valentine’s Day, and then both of you spend the day in your lingerie.

To see more advice from E. Jean visit Elle magazine and

Join The Conversation
designerel designerel 9 years
i just wanted to say i feel your pain about falling asleep in meetings. i've done it too and it is SO embarrassing because i certainly don't mean to, and it just looks very bad. just explain to your boss the dilemma, and that you are taking steps to overcome the problem. the splitting up meals idea sounds like a good one, chewing some extra minty gum might help and i'm a big advocate of short naps in the car! good luck!
fran441 fran441 9 years
Not sure what you are eating for lunch, but if it is heavy on carbs (esp. simple or processed carbs) the sugar will hit your bloodstream hard and give you lots of energy in the short term, and then you will crash, which it sounds like you are doing. As well as breaking up your lunch into 3 parts, eat only complex carbs (vegggies, very grainy bread, etc) and try eating a bit of protein with each mini-lunch. This will force your body to digest more slowly, and spread the the energy you get from your food out over the whole afternoon. By the way, I too would worry that your nutritionist did not respond to your concern. If she knew what she was doing, she should have known what was going on and been able to offer you some suggestions .
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Make your own judgement, ignore your nutritionist.
Meike Meike 9 years
Studies show that chewing gum works to keep one awake. Lol.
ninjastarlett ninjastarlett 9 years
add some tea to your lunch meal?
CoMMember13630786602261 CoMMember13630786602261 9 years
Congrats! Try talking to your nutritionist again, maybe ask if you just cut back on the portions a little. I understand that she wants you to eat a certain amount, but if you get tired after eating, doesnt that usually mean you've eaten too much?
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
good job on the 7 1/2 pounds!
LizL LizL 9 years
I agree about taking Vitamin B. I am 3 months pregnant and EXTREMELY tired all the time. My doctor told me to take Vitamin B 3 times a day and it worked wonders!!! A slight side note to that. A co-worker came in a little hung over, and I gave her one...she was no longer tired or sick. It's awesome.
books-and-shoes books-and-shoes 9 years
Interesting that bit about performing better when slightly hungry.
Eternity Eternity 9 years
Well I dont think her plan is working, but if you can't stop now, would adding a B vitamin or drinking a large glass of green tea or coffee help? Both of these actually aid weight loss and are very healthy in moderation...
sugarsister sugarsister 9 years
your nutritionist didn't seem to respond very well to your problem which is a big deal. you can't fall asleep at work! i completely agree with e. jean (and ben franklin). eat smaller portions so you don't have a full tummy sucking all the blood out of your brain so you can digest it all. it works for me. good luck in that la perla
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