Inciting incident.

on July 28, 2011 in Get Fit, That's delish. with 31 comments by

When I read Don Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, it kinda changed my life. Great books will do that. I would insert about fifty quotes here if my copy of the book wasn’t in some storage unit on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. [Books are heavy. Very few made the trip to Scotland.]

But the one quote from Don that doesn’t leave my mind is the quote about an inciting incident.

“…the inciting incident is how you get (characters) to do something. It’s the doorway through which they can’t return, you know. The story takes care of the rest.”

Because my dear friend Bianca was brave yesterday, and because it’s been on my heart a while, I’m gonna talk about it.

I am so not good at this eating healthy, working out, treating my body well thing. I mean, I am SO not good at it.

And I think about it every day.

I worry about fitting into bridesmaid dresses that are already hanging in my closet and I worry about caring too much that it becomes an obsession. The scale calls my name from across the apartment and yet when I avoid it for months at a time, well, NO good comes of that.

I try and I fail and I try and I fail and I go to a counselor and I try and I fail.

But I don’t quit. Maybe I’ll fight this every day for the rest of my life, but I will fight it. I won’t quit.

It stinks.

One of the best parts of living in Edinburgh is that fast food and eating out isn’t as much of an option here. It’s just not the culture. People eat at home. And I, well, since I don’t have a car [I wouldn’t know what to do with it even if I did] and don’t really know my way around this neighborhood, I have an inciting incident on my hands.

I am being forced to cook.

No more Baja Burrito. No more Coke icees from Burger King. No more Frothy Monkey.

It’s just me. My kitchen. And my Tesco Metro.

Being taken out of my drive-around-eat-out-with-your-friends life and set in this walk-around-and-eat-at-home life has forced me through a doorway, as Don says.

And I’m grateful.

I’m not getting all crazy and diet-y. That doesn’t work for my soul. It’s not healthy.

I just want to be healthy.

I love to cook and I’m pretty good at it. I just have, in the last few years, untrained myself. I have created an eat-out habit, and that’s not super healthy. And by golly, Edinburgh is gonna break it.

The cool thing? I can only buy what I can carry [I am such a city girl]. So I stop by my Tesco Metro about once every other day. Fresh fruits and veggies. Less processed stuff. And my budget is squeezed tight, so I’m careful not to buy ridiculous things.

We had some foibles the first few days, but I’m in the swing now.

Today’s masterpiece? Marisa‘s chicken and gnocchi.

For a learning-to-cook-again girl like me, this was perfect. I grabbed a roasted chicken, a head of broccoli, potato gnocchi, Parmesan cheese, and low fat tomato sauce [I just read that as “tom-AH-to”- the Scottish girl that lives in my head is back].

Shred the chicken. Cook the gnocchi. Steam the broccoli. Combine everything and eat.


It’s a good start. It’s not life changing. I’m not a cooking caterpillar that will soon become a butterfly.

I’m just a real girl who has real issues, even after she has written a book about loving yourself and living a well-rounded healthy life. [Sheesh.] But just like Bianca, and maybe just like you, the issue of eating right and choosing exercise follows me from meal to meal and city to city and country to country and there are wins and there are losses.

But here in Edinburgh, things are a changin’.

I’m grateful for this inciting incident. More grateful than I can say.

Help! Got any food blogs that you love to read? Or any recipes on your own blog that you want to share? Link on, linkers. I’d love to read!


  1. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:28 PM  |  reply

    The chicken gnocchi looks fabulous- although I’m allergic to both poultry & dairy so I can’t try it whah whah.

    Anywho, I don’t have a lot Β of sites but this is a recipe I think you’ll LOVE. Didn’t you say you like banana? Take a look. It’ll blow your mind

    You can add anything you like to it. And I noticed that if you make a bunch with cocoa powder, peanut butter &refreeze (it’ll be real hard you need to let it sit) the cocoa takes over the banana & it actually tastes like peanut butter cup ice cream. For realz πŸ™‚

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:05 AM  |  reply

      Yes and yum. Thanks!!

    • posted on Aug 06, 2011 at 1:51 PM  |  reply

      @Tonya, Tried this tonight with a spoon full of peanut butter and OH MY WORD. You win, Tonya. You always do.

  2. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:48 PM  |  reply

    Cheering you on from afar, Annie! Pioneer Woman always has great recipes, though you might need to make adjustments at times as they aren’t always healthy.

    Julie Hunt (do you know her? She’s a Nashville person) has a fantastic blog- Cup-a Cup-a- where she posts recipes about once a week. Always delicious and flavorful.

    A couple of recipes from my blog:

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:05 AM  |  reply

      GREAT stuff. πŸ™‚

  3. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:52 PM  |  reply

    I completely understand where you are coming from. There have been a lot of failures for me, but at the same time I swing in the opposite direction and become obsessive about it. However, I am just working on finding a balance.

    #1 I have a friend that told me about the inciting incidents thing from the Donald Miller book and it is an intriguing idea and I hope to read more about it.

    #2 I have tons of great ideas of simple easy things to cook. And I am jealous of just buying fresh everyday. Here are a few
    Pita Pizza- tomato sauce, veggies, chicken, and cheese….so simple and easy!
    An easy cupcake recipe!
    Grilled or sauted zucchini is a favorite of mine, especially with a simple marinara sauce.

    Let us know about your creations, I am always looking for new recipes!

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:06 AM  |  reply

      It’s an amazing book. Totally worth the purchase. πŸ™‚

  4. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:52 PM  |  reply

    I love this. Because I’m working on this area of my life too..

    and in this journey – this website has been my LIFESAVER! EVERY single recipe I’ve tried has been a winner. And that says something. Because I was part of a Rachael Ray recipe cooking challenge, and I’m here to tell you Rachael Ray’s got issues with her taste buds.

    But Gina? I love Gina.

    I’m making her baked potato soup tonight (it has mashed cauliflower! What?!) for a friend who had her wisdom teeth out. And I can tell you if it tastes as good as it looks, it’s gonna be amazing.

    Have fun!

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:06 AM  |  reply

      Looks awesome!

  5. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:11 PM  |  reply

    I cook. I cook a lot. And I cook for one, which is hard when I all I really want to do is eat out. I applaud you for making this happen. I will pray for your success.

    When I was losing weight, I ate this recipe a lot (you’ll like it if you like gnocchi and it looks like you do!), and I liked it so much it shows up on my menu plan a lot now.

    Feel free to check out the rest of my recipes…there’s some good, healthy stuff in there!

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:06 AM  |  reply

      Perfect! Yes- cooking for 1 is such a challenge. Thanks for the ideas!

  6. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 6:13 PM  |  reply

    Impressive that you went with gnocchi. Everytime someone tries to make gnocchi on Top Chef, they get sent home because the gnocchi’s too gummy.

  7. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 7:12 PM  |  reply


    With my new place in NY, my kitchen is tiny and one day I was wondering about barnes and noble and found this cookbook,called in a small kitchen. The girls that wrote the book are great and I’ve loved cooking from it,seriously i might mail you the cookbook its so fab. they have a cute website called big girls small kitchen, the guide to quarter life cooking.

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:09 AM  |  reply

      Thanks, friend.

  8. Amy Carpenter
    posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 8:15 PM  |  reply

    first of all, you are so brave for talking about an issue that plagues so many women (myself included!). it is a constant battle and when we fail it can seem unconquerable. Luckily we have a Father who loves us through our weakness and He loves you for your honesty. I hear the fight behind your words, Annie-you can do this! Not trying to be cliche by throwing a ‘Bible band-aid’ on this very real, challenging issue but this truly is a passage of scripture that the Lord has shown me when I’ve brought my own problems about this to Him, Romans 8:26-39. I hope you’re encouraged by that!

    As for blogs, you might want to check out She has awesome, simple recipes and great healthy living advice that I love. Also, living in the city where you will probably be walking a ton more than you would in your normal routine and that’s going to be really helpful in your efforts.

    I love you, Annie Downs and I hope you know how wonderful you are-inside and out. The Lord has used your words to speak to my heart countless times, through this blog, your book, and of course in person. Just want to say again, that you got this! I can’t think of a better place to be than smack dab in the middle of God’s will for your life and I know you are pursuing that whole-heartedly, this being healthy thing is going to fall into place just like the rest of it. Go show that kitchen who’s boss!

    Jeez-sorry this was so long-winded, I know it’s way more than you asked for but I totally know where you are coming from and wanted to encourage you in this.

    One more thing (ha!)…love, love, LOVE A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. So glad it’s one of your favs too!

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:10 AM  |  reply

      Good word, Amy. Good word.

  9. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:14 PM  |  reply

    LOVE this. the fact that i can make most of these things in my little Nica kitchen means i am smitten.

    blessings to you in your scottish cooking adventures

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:10 AM  |  reply

      Yes. Love it. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  10. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:15 PM  |  reply

    This is my absolute favorite recipe…and it’s all in one dish and it’s pretty! πŸ™‚

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:11 AM  |  reply

      Perfect! Making it this week. Thanks, Kristin!

  11. posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:57 PM  |  reply

    Hi Ms. Annie,

    So much inspired with you posts..Keep Blogging..Godbless you heart Ma’am πŸ™‚

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:11 AM  |  reply

      Thank you, Cindy.

  12. posted on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:35 PM  |  reply

    Loved the look of your recipe and wanted to share mine Hope you try it and enjoy! I’ve been happy reading about your life in Scotland. Blessings!

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:12 AM  |  reply

      Love it! Thanks.

  13. Kim
    posted on Jul 30, 2011 at 8:18 AM  |  reply

    Hi Annie… I so relate. It took a major illness and my doctor asking, “do you really – I mean really – want to get better?” (versus continuing a life of pain, hospital visits, thousands of dollars in medical bills) for me to start eating right and treating my body well. In other words, it took a major inciting incident, and even then it was a process that took me about 2 years to get a handle on and become a lifestyle. I just took it one small step at a time. Now I LOVE cooking at home, eating well, loving my body, and feeling great – and I have no doubt you will, too – but you know what? I still have days where I eat lots of stuff I shouldn’t. I think we all do. One of the things that really helped me is not depriving myself of anything. I just find healthy alternatives, so I eat burgers and fries (but I choose lean meat, baked fries, things like that) and icecream (I’m obsessed with Coconut Milk icecream or Rice Dream), cookies, etc. I live in NYC so walking everywhere and only being able to eat what I can carry home definitely helped, too!

    Your openness and honesty has always been an inspiration to me! Wishing you lots of good recipes and great experiences in Edinburgh!

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:13 AM  |  reply

      Thanks for your ideas. Means a lot.

  14. posted on Jul 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM  |  reply

    I fell in love with the recipes in my Real Simple magazine a few years ago and frequent about twice a week – the reason… the recipes are usually 6 ingredients or less, balanced, and healthy. WIN.

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:13 AM  |  reply

      Real Simple is my FAVORITE. Great idea, Ginger!

  15. posted on Jul 30, 2011 at 8:30 PM  |  reply

    I need an inciting incident like this, since my dinners as of late have been a head of broccoli – and two margaritas.

    But I love you. I love your honesty. And I love your wisdom.

    • Annie
      posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 5:13 AM  |  reply

      Ha. I love you Annie P. Praying for Zion.

  16. posted on Aug 04, 2011 at 11:53 PM  |  reply

    a little late on the ol google reader (thanks peru!) — but happy to see i made the blog πŸ™‚ yay for gnocchi! yay for honesty! yay for cooking! love u.

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