I Kept A 'Bridget Jones' Inspired Diary For A Week & Tracked My Weight, Alcohol Units, & Everything In Between
Bridget Jones and I are kindred spirits, soul mates, compadres. Although I was only 14-years-old when the movie Bridget Jones' Diary was released 15 years ago, I knew that Bridget Jones was my future. Not that I would actively try to be like the clumsy and lovable Bridget (besides the fact that I always wanted to be British), but that her chaotic lifestyle was almost inevitable for me. When I read the book Bridget Jones' Diary five years after the movie was released, I was even more certain that Bridget was my number one homegirl, and, like many other women out there, felt eerily similar to the one and only Bridget Jones. And thus, I decided to write a diary of my own — à la Bridget — for a week, leading up to the 15th anniversary of the film.
As I'm now only three years younger than Bridget was when she started her diary in the film, I can see I've had phases of my life that are more Bridget-like than others. How I am like Bridget is that I'm kind of a hot mess and self-improvement is not easy for me. When I do attempt to become more organized, more punctual, more clean, more healthy, etc., I end up doing it very erratically. I become fixated on working out for three days straight, then don't work out again for weeks. I count calories and track everything I eat for a week, then don't do it again for years. I obsessively scrub a bathroom to perfection, while the rest of my house is in shambles due to my hoarding-like tendencies — last night's panties hardly ever make it into the laundry basket.
Yet, there are significant differences between Bridget and me. Although I am known for revealing way too many details about my personal life (especially whilst intoxicated), my verbal diarrhea is way more in check than Bridget's. When I had an office job in my early 20s, I definitely had days where I hungover-ly strutted in ridiculously late and fannyed around with the press releases (see-through tops were not included), but now I work from home in my pajama pants and it's a good day if I shower. Previously, I had pursued jobs in publishing and had a messy love life. Nowadays, I'm lucky to be doing what I love and to be engaged to someone I love, who is more of a Mark Darcy than a Daniel Cleaver, though if I'm being honest, he's not like either of them.
The point being, although there have been elements of my life that have made me really, really relate to Bridget, I'm obviously not the fictional character of Bridget — I'm me — and that's more than OK.
For my week-long diary experiment, I did not expect that it would help me get my life together or prove that I'm more or less like Bridget. And while that was accurate, I did underestimate not only how fun it would be to document my life in an intimate way (although, I was acutely aware that I would be sharing excerpts for this article), but that writing in a diary may be something I want to continue to do after this week. Even if no self-improvement comes directly from writing in a diary, which Bridget has more than proven time and time again, there is something cathartic about writing down what happened to you that day — whether it was funny or embarrassing, stressful or liberating, exciting or thoroughly uneventful.
In honor of the movie turning 15, here is what I experienced from trying to channel Bridget and her diary, based on the three main elements she included at the beginning of every diary entry in the film. Shockingly, my diary did help me discover more differences and similarities between Bridget and me that I never got from watching the movie hundreds of times over.
I'm not scale obsessed like Bridget is and I know you actually shouldn't weigh yourself everyday because those little changes in your weight aren't real weight loss or real weight gain. Yet, I tried to weigh myself every morning disrobed and before consuming any food during the week in honor of Bridget. Though I did manage to weigh myself more than I ever do, I still failed at weighing myself everyday.
My weight struggle is completely in line with Bridget's as I am at the heaviest weight that I have ever been in my life, and I am in the same weight class as Bridget was in the film. While, like Bridget, I "obviously will lose 20 pounds" this year, I knew that wouldn't be happening during the week of diary keeping. But! I had joined a gym, a previously foreign concept to me, a month before starting the diary and had been going at least twice a week since I signed up, which was a real accomplishment for me. Unfortunately, I only went once during this week, which I justify by being sick since I didn't want to cough on the machines.
My take away: Even if you are trying to lose weight, don't step on the scale everyday. But contrary to what I previously thought, keeping track of your weight on a regular basis can actually help you feel a sense of accomplishment ... or utter despair. I ended up fluctuating from 139 pounds to 135.5 pounds during the week with a total net weight loss of 1.5 pounds by the time the week was over, so success?
As a reformed smoker who sometimes casually picks up smoking cigarettes every now and then, I almost took living like Bridget as a real challenge and bought myself a pack. But! I decided my health was way more important (something oh-so not Bridget) and unless I drunkenly obtained a cigarette or a pack, which is not a wholly abnormal occurrence, I wouldn't go to the store for a pack soberly.
Saturday night was the only night that I attempted to get my grubby little hands on a cigarette. I tried bumming a smoke from a couple at a bar that night and (as seen in the above entry) the guy told me he was a tobacco lobbyist! Of course, he could have been bullshitting me, but the story is much better if he wasn't. He told me he didn't have any cigarettes and told me smoking was bad for my health. Go figure.
My take away: If I had done this seven years ago, or even last year, I would have been pretty horrified by my cigarette counts (though, I never really was a chainsmoker). I am happy to say I ended up not having any cigarettes, although I definitely craved them. I probably should have switched the counting of cigarettes to the counting of how much leftover Easter candy I ate during the week, because it would have been a much more embarrassing number. However, I guess I can be proud of myself knowing that in a weaker time of my life, I might have used this experiment as a reason to pick up smoking again.
While I may be a reformed smoker, I am definitely not a reformed drinker and Bridget's love of booze always made her more endearing to me. I had to Google how to calculate the alcohol units because while I knew an alcohol unit didn't equal one drink, I was still mystified how Bridget had managed to drink a tremendously impressive 50 alcohol units in a day. Turns out, all of the tops links when you Google "alcohol units" are of British websites, so who knew calculating alcohol units wasn't an American thing to do? Anyway, the equation for figuring out alcohol units according to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is: Strength (ABV) x volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = units. Obviously, this is a bit complicated and I decided that a good old fashioned guesstimate, especially since I'm not great at calculating how much I'm drinking while I am drinking, would have to do.
I drank less during my week of Bridget than I usually do — which is a good thing — because I got a mild cold and felt like I shouldn't push through it. (This must be what being an adult feels like!) The NHS recommends not drinking more than 14 units a week and as a British person for the week, I most certainly exceeded that. I drank a bottle of red wine, which is 10 units, on Friday night and the above excerpt from my diary is a consequence of that. I would also say that I liked to write in the diary at the end of the day to cover what happened throughout the day, but when you make a habit of drinking too much, that becomes a much harder task, which is why there was no entry after my Saturday night shenanigans.
My take away: During the week, I had 22 units of alcohol in three days. Honestly, this is a very low number for me, considering the Saturday before I started keeping the diary, I calculated that I had 17 units. My advice if you are a drunk like Bridget and me and you want to keep a diary, don't worry about writing in it at the end of the day since you'll most likely have less entries if you do that. Although, my booze-filled entry definitely amused me when I looked back on it later, it wasn't very good for actual life documentation purposes.
Since I'm already crippling self-aware and not great at doing things on the regular, I don't know if trying to keep up with a diary for a full year is the best idea for me. However, if Bridget can do it, then so can I! So I may continue to keep track of my life in this way — all in the name of Bridget Jones' Diary, which is just as relevant to me today as it was 15 years ago.
Images: Miramax (2); Caitlin Gallagher/Bustle (6); Giphy (2)