Dieting – Part One (of Many)
When I was in the 3rd grade, I went on my first diet. For those of you who’ve lost track of some of life’s little details, humans are 8-years-old in the 3rd grade. When other kids were refining their lower math skills, I was honing mine to razor sharpness counting carb grams on my first go-round with Dr. Atkins.
It’s not an original story, so I won’t bore you with all the details but suffice to say that my mom was (and is) a serial dieter, a person of somewhat short stature and somewhat average weight who will have “Almost Got to Her Perfect Weight” scratched into her tombstone. Her older sister, a woman who dieted with cigarettes and amphetamines until cancer took them both away, told me wryly as she lay in her hospice bed in her last few days, “At least I’m skinny.” Lovely women both, and yet this is the womb of self love from which I sprang …
I shouldn’t have to say this but since I’m compulsive, I will: I didn’t need to lose weight when I was 8-years-old. I was normal in the truest sense of the word (in a 4H kind of way, as you can see). But, to my everlasting chagrin, I undeniably, categorically did not look like Marcia Brady And, in 1970, there was no substitute for looking like Marcia Brady. At the time, my mom, in what passes for being supportive, urged me on which, naturally, confirmed my worst fears. I was fat!
And so it began … in the ensuing years, I counted calories, I counted carbs, I counted fat grams. I did the Atkins Diet, the Scarsdale Diet, the Pritikin Diet and Weight Watchers. I ate Ayds diet supplements and hot water for dinner and did a diet for weeks and weeks that consisted of only grapefruit and toast. For a while, my mom took me to a place called The Diet Center twice a week where they shot me in the butt with something that was supposed to … well, I don’t know what it was supposed to do, but the place was called The Diet Center. What could go wrong? There was never a time I was not on a diet and, after I left for college, I did much, much more destructive things to lose weight – which I may or may not write about later, depending on whether I’m ever going to let my son read this blog.
Anyway, the question you may be asking is whether I lost weight and the answer is a resounding YES. I have, in fact, lost thousands of pounds … in sets of 20 or 30, over and over and over again for the last 38 years. And while I have never been bigger than a size 10 (except for pregnancy – but that’s a whole other post) or smaller than a size 2, I have been bouncing up and down like a SuperBall for almost four decades. I always have a plan and as I lose interest in one, I begin researching and scheming, joining groups and going to meetings, creating spreadsheets and buying this food or that, always following the capricious whims of the nutritional sages.
Why am I telling you all this? Because of one horrifying fact: as I get older, nothing seems to work. In fact, I’ve just jumped on and off the Jorge Cruise “Carb Swap” program in record time with nothing to show for it but a cupboard full of xylitol and 85% chocolate (I think I actually gained a few on that one). The thing before that didn’t work either – one of my all-time favorites, the Master Cleanser (if you’ve never done it, don’t rob yourself of the pleasure of drinking super spicy lemonade 10 times a day!). Even exercise doesn’t seem to move the needle anymore.
So, is this the end? Am I doomed to live life without a plan? Scary, to say the least … but it’s got me thinking, is it possible? Can a girl (who still doesn’t look a bit like Marcia Brady, btw) give up a cause as shallow and pointless as this, even though it has almost literally defined her since she was still playing dodgeball at Mark Twain Elementary?
For the moment, I honestly don’t know – but I have a feeling I’ll be writing about this again …