A bathroom scale gives only a number. The right pair of jeans reveals the truth. That's why Kami Gray titled her book "The Denim Diet."
"I live and work in my jeans," Gray says. "Anyone in the film business - this is our uniform."
A diet book written by a film stylist that promises to get you into your dream jeans sounds like a well-measured recipe for disaster, if not an eating disorder. Ah, but judge not a book by its cover. Or, at least, not until you've read the small print: "The No-Nonsense Guide to a Smaller You and a Healthier Planet."
Gray, of Portland, coordinates wardrobes and sets for television, including commercials for Toyota, Nike and Discover Card and shows such as "House" and "Hell's Kitchen."
"Jeans have always been the gauge for how I'm doing," she says. "I've been able to wear the same size for years, but they don't always fit the same."
When they feel snug, she knows she's overindulged so reminds herself to return to better habits of eating whole grains and fresh produce and lowfat protein.
"I don't know how much I weigh," Gray says. "When I go to the doctor I say, 'Tell me in kilograms because I don't want to know.'"
Gray comes from a seriously Portland family. Her parents work in green design and solar and wind energy and eat only organic healthy foods. Her earnest family, Gray jokes, still can't quite grasp the superficiality of her chosen profession.
"So, let me get this straight, you dress people for commercials," she echoes their questions. "Yeah, well, sometimes I do their hair and makeup, too!"
But Gray brings those family traditions -- and what many consider quintessential Portland ideas -- of eating and living well while leaving a small carbon imprint from her work and her book.
"I think of myself as kind of a personal healthy-lifestyle coach," she says.
That makes her sound about as much fun as a boot camp drill sergeant, but she's funny, and it comes across in breezy, light and personal stories in her book. Next time a barista asks if you want a pastry with your coffee, she writes, tell her no, I don't eat sugary, fat-laden rubbish because I want to be slender and healthy.
"Your barista will enjoy getting to know you better," she writes. "Take her gentle eye roll to mean she truly appreciates where you're coming from."
She wrote the first draft of "The Denim Diet" in five days and landed a top agent and publisher within months. The book came out this week in bookstores nationwide.
Gray is at Powell's in downtown Portland from 7 to 8 tonight, Friday, March 13. They've paired up with Nolita boutique to collect used jeans in good condition to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Gray is also at Nolita, 921 N.W. 10th Ave., Portland, from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 14, for a book signing and to highlight the store's Denim Drive. Donors get 20 percent off new premium jeans at the Pearl boutique.
"I saw the book at Powell's. I took a picture of it," Gray says. "Hey, it's Powell's! I'm an Oregonian. What could be better?"