No Woman Diets Alone:
There’s Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut
It’s difficult to lose weight when you’re around a man who is exactly the same weight, give or take two pounds, as he was in college. A man who can put his jeans on over a pair of sweat pants and not look like the Michelin tire man, a man who can skip lunch for a week and lose five pounds; a man with the highest metabolism I know.
And, of course, I, the perpetual dieter, am married to him.
Today, it’s politically correct to say, “I make choices for a healthy lifestyle; I’m not interested in losing weight. I just want to be healthy!” instead of, “I’m fat and I want to drop twenty.” No one wants to say why they’re really turning down the pasta and pastries or why they’re trying every new exercise machine that comes on the market, but I’ll tell you why. What they really hope to get for all their food denial and sore muscles is a drop-dead gorgeous, killer body. That, at least, is what I want.
At the very least, I’m honest about my ongoing quest to lose weight.
Believe me I’ve suffered through just about every new weight-loss plan that has come on down the road. My husband claims he’s suffered too, at least in the emotional sense.
But...the “Thin Man” is skeptical about any diet plan that charges a lot of money. He thinks anyone can lose weight just by using common sense in eating. I tell him there is no common sense when someone wants to lose weight. It’s a desperate situation and we’re all looking for the secret to weight loss.
“Honey, there is no secret,” he assures me, “only good marketing guaranteed to lure you in. Remember the ‘citrus fruit quick and easy diet? Lose twenty pounds in a week? By the end of the second week your body was one big hive!”
He’s on target there. I feel itchy just remembering.
“All your diet attempts have one thing in common: they all have a ‘secret catch phrase’ that makes you believe you’ll lose weight. Clever marketing, that’s all it is.”
I sigh. I hate it when he’s right. There was one called “Beat the Vicious Monster” system.
Seated in a roomful of other “sure-thing” diet seekers I breathlessly listened to the spokeswoman expound on my weight problem.
“Think of your weight problem as a vicious monster! As a person with a vicious weight monster about to consume you, you must understand that there are forbidden foods you can never eat again! If you do, you will unleash the vicious weight monster. Our problem is the appearance of this vicious monster and we must learn to beat it into submission!”
The woman in front of the room had used the phrase vicious monster four times with emphasis, like an a pitchman in a commercial, repeating a phone number for a product so you won’t forget it. It was hypnotic.
I was excited about this great class I was going to take. I couldn’t wait to conquer this Monster. I was so enthused! When I went home and told Alan I had signed up to “beat the vicious monster” he just looked at me and said:
“Hey! Exactly what kind of class are you taking? It sounds kind of kinky and fun.”
“No, no, it’s not that kind of class. It’s a class about losing weight. See, my weight problem is a vicious monster.”
He rummages in the refrigerator and tells me not to become a fanatic.
“You usually do. You become crazed about weight loss. It’s happened before.”
“Not this time,” I say slightly defensively.
“Just remember to stay healthy. Eat sensibly. That’s the key. Want a bagel?”
Advice from a man who is a perfect eating machine!
I was the good little girl, I was dedicated, devoted to beating my monster. I thought about food day and night, planning all my meals. I measured everything at home, asked for my food to be “dry, broiled, salad dressing on the side, please,” in restaurants. I questioned the preparation of food at the home of friends. I drove Alan crazy when we food shopped. Everything had to be
low-fat, no sugar, low calorie; basically tasteless. He refused to go shopping with me and, of course, I wouldn’t let him shop alone. He might get “monster” food!
I was a fanatic with this diet...or five months. Then I grew tired of not eating what I wanted and decided to embrace my vicious monster and not starve or beat it into submission.
But several months later it was a new season, a new diet; this one given to me in a phone conversation by a friend who had actually lost over ten pounds in a very short time. She found it on the internet and, she said, the weight came off immediately. I was impressed.
“What’s the secret this time?” asked Alan as I hung up the phone.
“Arugulla,” I said.
“Arugulla and water.”
“That’s it? Arugulla and water? What, do you eat it with every meal or something?”
“No. You eat only arugulla and drink nothing but water, for the first two months,” I said enthusiastically. Alan sighed and ate a chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie.
“Want one?” he innocently asks. He’s generous to a fault, he is.
Even though I did lose weight on it, there was a serious hitch in the arugulla and water diet. Alan called it the “pee-away” diet because every time he turned around I was either in the bathroom, saying I was going to the bathroom, or getting up to go to the bathroom. Any place we went he knew exactly where to find me. At the mall, the home of a friend, the movies; I was in the bathroom. After six weeks of the arugulla and water diet I collapsed, malnourished and exhausted.
“Get her to eat real food,” our doctor told Alan after he had examined me. “And cut out the arugulla and water. This girl is waterlogged!”
As we got closer to Summer I began to have my “I-hope-I-fit-into-my-summer-clothes” panic attacks. One Sunday, as I stood in a sea of discarded clothes I asked Alan when he was going to try on his summer stuff.
“No need,” he says. “They’ll fit.”
“Are you sure?” I say, not wanting to concede that I’m the only one in this couple whose clothes might not fit.
“Absolutely,” he replies. But to please me he tries them on and, as sure as July follows June, he’s right. Same shorts and pants as last year, no problem. I heave a big sigh. He looks at me and gives me a hug.
“Hey,” he says, “I know what’ll make you feel better! Let’s go to Ice Cream Charlie’s for that hot fudge death-by-chocolate nut sundae with extra whipped cream later! Want to?”
Please God, don’t let me kill him!
Two months to Summer and I am on yet another diet “guaranteed to get the weight off.” This one involves math. I ask Alan to meet me at the place where the meeting is held.
“Want me to wait outside?” he asks looking in the kitchen cabinets.
“No, come inside and listen to what they have to say. I need back-up in case I forget something important that’s said. I’m really serious now.”
“What’s the secret catch phrase this time around?”
“It’s called, ‘Count Your Way to Thin.’ Please be on time, okay?”
“Okay. Want a pretzel?” Omigod!!
Before the meeting begins a lecturer explains the counting method. She hands out sheets with columns running across the paper. Each column has a title: “size, calories, carbohydrates, fats, trans-fats, sodium, and sugars.” For each food you eat you must record the portion size and the number of calories, carbs, etc. We are also given the “allowed” daily number for each column. It seems like a lot of math to me and I am not a math person. I look around at my fellow counters. Most of them are hanging on the woman’s every word as if her words alone will make the weight come off.
As I’m looking around the room, the door open and in walks my husband with a Dunkin’Donuts bag! He waves to me, sits down, and opens the bag taking out a huge glazed doughnut. Seeing me stare at him he holds up the donut and mouths, “Want some?” I hurry towards the back.
“What are you doing in here?" I ask.
“You told me to meet you here! Don’t you remember?”
“I mean, what are you doing in here with a donut?”
“Hey, it’s six o’clock. I’m hungry!”
“But this is a weight loss center! The meeting’s about to begin!”
“Listen, if they want to schedule their meetings during the hours usually reserved for dinner then they can expect people to be hungry! And I’m hungry. You’re probably hungry too. You haven’t eaten. Have a bite, it won’t kill you.”
“I am not eating a donut in here!”
The woman in charge comes over and sits down next to us. She forces a tight smile at Alan and says: “Excuse me sir, but are you going to eat that donut in here?!”
“Well, yes I am. Is there a problem?”
“There certainly is! This is a meeting for weight loss, you understand. Some of our members might feel just a little bit uncomfortable seeing you eat a donut in this room.”
“Why?! Because it’s forbidden food, you know what I’m saying here? You’re eating a donut and seeing you eat the donut makes them……”
“Yes, something like that. The smell, the actual visual effect makes them…….”
“Makes them want a donut?”
“Well, yes.” She is a little startled by Alan’s bluntness.
“How many people are in here, about fifteen?” he asks.
“About that many, why?”
“I have two boxes of donuts in my car. How many calories, carbs, or whatever can they possibly have? If you think they’re hungry I could just go get……..”
“That won’t be necessary,” she says abruptly and, with a glare at me, gets up to go to the front of the room.
“Don’t embarrass me,” I hiss in a whisper.
“I wasn’t trying to,” he says through a mouthful of donut.
A late-comer to the meeting sits down in the back of the room next to us. Observing Alan eating a donut, he looks him up and down. Thinking my husband has finished the program and is now maintaining the “weight count” he says:
“Wow, you must be proud of yourself! How much do you weigh?”
“I weigh the same as I did in college, 170,” Alan says truthfully.
“170?! That’s great! I lost thirty pounds, down from over 275. Were you over 275?”
“No,” Alan says trying to be polite, “I never……”
“Never over 275? Yeah, you probably only had to lose about 50. I thought so. I can tell from your frame.”
“No, I………,” begins my donut eating husband.
“How long did it take you to lose your weight anyway?”
“I never, ever…,” begins a frustrated Alan, but before he can finish, I step in.
“He never, ever cheated,” I say.
“How long did it take him to lose the weight,” the man persists turning to me.
“Ten months,” I lie, “he lost 50 pounds in ten months.”
“I thought so,” the man says. “Five pounds a month.”
He tells me that’s about average in his opinion.
“Better lay off the donuts though, pal,” he says turning back to Alan. “Those 50 will come back in no time!”
The meeting is coming to close when the lady at the front of the room asks if anyone has any questions. A few people ask the same questions I always hear at any weight loss meeting. How long will it take to lose weight; can I ever eat “real” food again; how do I handle hunger; same
questions, different program. After answering them all she asks one last time:
“Anyone else have questions or comments?”
The “Thin Man” raises his hand.
“Yes?” she says archly when she sees who it is.
“I think you’re going about this all wrong.”
The group turns, as one, to the back of the room. I cringe.
“All the counting, all the denial of real food, all the times you’re hungry but don’t eat, just won’t work; it never does. You just make yourself crazy and angry because you’re obsessed with food and can’t have it. Take my wife’s experiences with dieting.”
I calculate how fast I can get to the exit without breaking my leg.
“No diet has ever worked for her long term. If she’d just listen to my suggestions, she’d never have a problem.”
“And your suggestions are?” The woman at the front of the room is obviously miffed that someone other than she has suggestions about losing weight, especially a man who had
the nerve to eat a donut in her class!
“Eat sensibly,” says Alan walking to the front of the room. “Eat when you’re hungry. If you want a donut or a piece of chocolate, have it! Hey life’s for living and food is part of life. It should be a fun part of life, not something you fear! Eating is normal. Enjoy it!”
A few people clap. He is on a roll!
“And another thing. Why are people always trying to lose weight because of some new diet craze? Who’s in charge of your life anyway, you or the media?”
Cheers, actual cheers!
“Don’t become obsessed with these weight-loss programs. You’ll spend your entire life doing nothing but dieting! Look at my wife, Kristen. She drives herself crazy with every new diet! Honey? Stand up so they can see you!”
I resolve to run away tomorrow to an island where no one knows me. Embarrassed, I stand and give a little wave. Incredibly, the group waves back! Omigod!
He goes on lecturing for another half hour and by the end of that time, he has, not only the group, but the “charge lady,” eating out of the palm of his hand. (Pun intended.)
Finally he looks at his watch.
“It’s almost seven-thirty. You people must be starving! I’m betting none of you have even eaten yet, right?” Nods of assent.
“You need some food to tide you over until you get home. I’ve got some donuts in the car. Wait here, I’ll go get them.”
As he walks out of the room people are clapping him on the back and shaking his hand. The late-comer who asked Alan’s weight is telling the group all about his “new friend.”
“I sat next to him! The man knows what he’s talking about. He’s good! Lost 50 pounds in only ten months and now he weighs what he weighed in college! Imagine!”
Alan comes back with the “forbidden food” and everyone rushes towards him, the “charge lady” in the lead, pushing and shoving to get to the donuts. I’m engulfed in a stampeding herd of ravenous humanity.
“Oh, God! I haven’t had a donut in six months!” says a man eating a huge powdered sugar chocolate one.
“Six months?! Try going three years without one. That’s how long it’s been for me. I haven’t even smelled one since I took this damn job!” The lecturer is talking through a mouthful of Boston crème and making orgasmic moans.
When the box is finally empty, and while people are still immersed in eating, I motion Alan to leave.
“This is sad, honey,” he says shaking his head sadly. “They sound like the zombies in “Night of the Living Dead!” Look at what dieting and denying yourself can do. Wow!”
I look at my husband in total amazement. He has so innocently sabotaged an entire weight loss group, the lecturer included. She was on her third Boston crème as we left!
On the way home I’m stoically thinking of bland, broiled chicken and dry green salad when I notice Alan take a detour. He drives through the window at Chili Dog Heaven and orders four sloppy ‘dogs and two seasoned fries.
“What are you doing?” I ask flabbergasted.” “I’m on a diet!”
“I figured you couldn’t wait. You must be starving. I noticed you didn’t get any donuts. Those people were crazed with hunger! C’mon honey. Live a little! How can it hurt you? It’s only
I give up and give in. He smiles at me and hands me a sloppy dog. What can I do?
He’s my Thin Man! On a mission to save the diet junkies of the world, one starving dieter at a time!