I’ve been on a diet ever since I was in third grade. I’m not exaggerating. In an example of stellar parenting, my parents decided to put me on a diet because they felt I was fat. I guess they wanted to beat the crowds and get an early start on all of my self-esteem issues.
Looking at pictures from that time, I was not fat. I was tall and muscular, which meant that I was usually larger than the other girls in my class. To my parents, though, different equaled bad, and a diet was the only remedy.
Through the years, I’ve been refereeing an ongoing war between my brain and my body. Brain says: Don’t obsess about food. Enjoy what you like in moderate portions. Body says: If it’s even remotely enjoyable to eat, I will turn it into a fat cell before you’ve even left the table. Brain says: Don’t count calories, carbs, or fat grams. Body says: Count them all, baby, because I will inflate you like a pufferfish if you don’t. Brain says: Exercise more and eat less. Body says: Danger, Danger! She’s lost in the woods. Conserve body fat!
In my ongoing efforts to make peace with my body, I’ve found I can maintain my weight by eating a moderate low carb diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dairy. I am gluten-intolerant so starchy things are infrequent treats, as is sugar. I cannot give up chocolate entirely, though. I’ve tried. Trust me when I say that I am a saner and much more delightful person when allowed to partake of the Food of the Gods.
My family knows and accepts my love affair with chocolate. My husband jokes that the correct answer to anything I might ask him is, “Here, hon, have some chocolate.” In fact, this past Christmas, I received the following as gifts:
- a pound of Godiva chocolate (To. Die. For.)
- a three pound (!!!) Hershey bar (this will be around until the next Ice Age)
- several pocket-sized tins of Godiva Chocoiste Pearls (portable chocolate!)
- a large bag of Lindt truffles (a gift from a Swiss friend)
Now before you become concerned about my blood sugar levels, I did not eat all of the chocolate that I received for Christmas. I’m smarter than that. I shared it with my husband and three boys, a guaranteed way of ensuring that it disappears in no time (although the ridiculously huge Hershey bar is still untouched in its shrink wrap. Does Goodwill accept donations of obscene amounts of chocolate?)
Even without going crazy on the chocolate, my pants are feeling a bit snug; too much eggnog and tomato pie and those evil FatAss desserts that everyone on Open Salon was so kind to post. I don’t even have to actually eat them to gain weight. Just looking at them makes my fat cells party like sailors on shore-leave. Simply being in the same room with sugar is enough to cause me to break out in fat.
Anyone who has ever dieted for any length of time knows that there are various mind games that you inevitably play with yourself. I’m no different. One set of hang-ups, I mean rules, involves the scale: You may ONLY weigh yourself while completely naked, first thing in the morning, after a good pee, and while holding your breath. Crossing yourself and saying a Hail Mary while standing on one leg doesn’t hurt, either, although some people think that’s just plain odd.
If you need to be weighed later in the day, things get really tough. You may not eat or drink anything for the entire day, you must wear your lightest weight clothes, and you must leave all jewelry at home. Failure to do these things could mean the difference between a loss of .2 pounds or a gain of .4 pounds. My self-imposed restrictions for late-in-the-day weighing are the main reason why group weight loss programs never worked for me. The day that I was weighing myself in different pairs of socks to see which was lighter was a clue that maybe I was becoming a bit too neurotic about it.
Another mind game is the thinking that no diet shall commence while there is any morsel of enjoyable food remaining in the house, but heaven forbid we throw it out. No! That would be wasteful (starving children in China come back from our childhoods to haunt us.) Instead, the solution is to eat the food so that we don’t, um, eat the food. You laugh, but it totally makes sense at the time.
So what’s a girl to do while waiting for the new diet to start working and the pounds to start dropping? Creative dressing, that’s what. Long vertical lines are slimming, as are dark colors.
Once, in a moment of bravery, I decided to try some of those new control garments that are worn under your clothes. They’re supposed to suck it all in and smooth it all out. You know; the ones with the thinly-disguised name that sounds like corporal punishment or the gateway to kinky sex. Yes. Those ones. I’ve determined that they are made solely for little boys or extremely skinny girls. In other words, people who don’t actually need anything sucked in and smoothed out. Anyone else needs to hack off a limb or two just to get into the damn things. Of course, then you’re left with a new and improved problem: how to get out of them.
One of my least proud moments involved getting stuck in the garment with one of my arms straight up in the air, the other arm smooshed against my face, and everything else held much-too-firmly in place by Spandex O’Death. I had to be rescued by the fitting room attendant even though the Jaws of Life seemed more appropriate at the time. By the way, if you happen to see me on the street and mention this particular brand of humiliation, I will deny it. I do have a smidgen of pride, you know.
Another problem with these control garments (marketed to the unsuspecting as “shapewear”) is that the lumps that are sucked in tend to get pushed out in other less attractive places. Over the years, I’ve tolerated quite a bit in the name of fashion, but I draw the line at underwear that creates a second row of boobs when you wear it. Let the lumps lie where they ought to, I say.
This year, as I embark on my annual war to shrink these holiday fat cells, I’m going to strive for greater balance: a little more exercise, a little less food. But no matter how long it takes for me to lose this weight, I’m going to leave the Spandex O’Death for the skinny girls. I’ve learned that I’ve grown rather fond of breathing.
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