Monday, September 12, 2016

The Girl on the Train

If you're looking for a psychological thriller that you won't want to put down, then The Girl on the Train is the book for you. This is the first fictional book published under the author's real name, Paula Hawkins. She also writes under the pseudonym of Amy Silver.

The Girl on the Train is told from the perspective of three different women: Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel is the main protagonist and the girl on the train. She's a lonely, divorced woman with a serious drinking problem. She suffers from black-outs and does things like call her ex-husband or show up on his doorstep while intoxicated.

Every morning and evening, she rides the train into London for her job. The train stops briefly each morning behind Rachel's old neighborhood, where she and her husband Tom lived before the divorce. Now Tom lives there with his new wife Anna (the third narrator of the story), and their new child, while Rachel rents a room from a former college friend, Cathy. The few months she expected to reside there has turned into two long years.

Four houses away from her old home, a "perfect, golden couple" live, whom Rachel has named Jess and Jason. Jess, who's really Megan, is the second female narrator of the novel. Rachel's become obsessed with this beautiful couple, always looking for them when the train stops on the tracks. From her seat, Rachel imagines how Jess and Jason live their lives, what their hobbies might be along with their occupations. Then one day, Jess disappears. Rachel's pulled into the investigation and the plot begins its suspenseful twists and turns.

I thought that The Girl on the Train was a very, good read.  It has a Hitchcockian feel to it a la Rear Window with its voyeuristic tendencies; instead of a photojournalist laid up with a broken leg in a wheelchair, we have a depressed drunk seated on a train. Quite a few times, I wanted to reach into the book and shake Rachel. Everyone lies in this book and the reader doesn't know who to trust. For me, this book was an addictive page turner, engrossing and well-paced. I couldn't wait to find out what happened on the next page and how the story ended.

The author, Paula Hawkins, revealed in an interview her premise for writing this book:   I’ve done lots of train journeys, and I’ve always thought how interesting it would be if you actually got to witness something. Because you never really do – I’ve never seen anything interesting! You look at these houses, and most of the time you never see people; you see things that maybe bring images to mind – for example, toys in the back garden that have been abandoned – and that starts you thinking about something.

In addition to being a bestseller, The Girl on the Train has also been made into a movie, premiering October 7th, with Emily Blunt in the lead as Rachel. More info on the movie can be found here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Back on Weight Watchers

Today, my blog post is about re-starting Weight Watchers. Recently, I noticed that my eating habits were getting out of control, I mean waaaayyy out of control, so I decided to start using the Weight Watchers Points System again. Many, many years ago, I successfully used the WW Points System and lost 25 pounds in 4 months. A couple of years later, I re-joined WW to lose a few more pounds. But I really wasn't in the right mind-set to stick with the program and basically wasted my money. This time around, instead of rejoining, I decided to do it on my own and dug out my old Weight Watchers paraphernalia.

The points system is a really great system because no food is off limit. You can eat anything you want as long as you stay within your point range. The point range is based on how much an individual weighs. Since I was a member all those years ago, WW has changed its system a bit and they now use a new method of calculating food points and daily point intake. Instead of using WW's current points system, I decided to stick with what I know, so I'm using the old method of calculating points.

I haven't paid attention to what I've been eating in years and I knew limiting my food intake would be really hard. I thought the best thing would be to ease myself back into the program with 30 points per day the first week and then reduce that amount by 2 points each week until I attain my goal of eating only 22 points per day. There was no way I could just cold-turkey start at 22 points per day.

Here's how my week panned out:
Day 1 -- Tuesday, 8/23 -- 29 points
Day 2 -- Wednesday -- 26 points
Day 3 -- Thursday -- 23 points
Day 4 -- Friday -- 26 points
Day 5 -- Saturday -- 29 points
Day 6 -- Sunday -- 21 points
Day 7 -- Monday -- 21 points

My goal is to lose 15 pounds by Thanksgiving. When I weighed myself this past Tuesday, my weight was down 7.5 pounds in only 7 days! I am already at my halfway point. I expected to lose only 2 to 3 pounds during Week 1 because this time around I won't be able to exercise due to some health problems. Apparently, there are 1,000 year old skeletons with better bone density than myself. My knees, back and neck are shot, which means no more hitting the treadmill for an hour or running up/down steps and a whole lot of other restrictions I won't go into right now.

When I originally did the points, I exercised Monday through Friday with a routine of an hour on the treadmill, followed by (every other day) crunches, leg and arm work. So losing weight for me this time around will be even more challenging than if I could exercise.

I'm feeling pretty confident that I can achieve my 15 pound goal by Thanksgiving by keeping to my daily points. My philosophy is simply to take it one day at a time.

For anyone interested in the points system, there's a website with a calculator to help determine the points according to the WW points system.  Also, here's a link to the Weight Watchers official site.