It’s Monday morning, and I have declared that I am going on a diet. Again. My weight is starting to climb. Again. I’m sure if I try hard enough, I can identify more evil food items that must never again pass my lips – foods that will join the cadre of those already banished, like pizza, ice cream, deli sandwiches, salty chips, and (sob!) Oreo cookies.
Off and on, throughout the years, I have lived on a steady diet of diets. That’s what happens when, at some very impressionable age, your baby fat doesn’t melt and the boy next door teases you about being chubby. And your doctor (not a pediatrician, because once there was such a thing as a family doctor) is telling you that you are pretty enough to be Miss America but you have to lose some weight. That’s what happens when your friends have developed waistlines and are wearing skirts with extra-wide leather belts purchased at the trendy shop in Greenwich Village where everyone went. Everyone except you because you would prefer not to call attention to your middle.
So at the age of twelve or thirteen, in response to all this weighty attention, I went on my first diet. I lived for nearly an entire summer on hard boiled eggs, celery, and saltine crackers, while my friends ate potato knishes from Mrs. Stahl’s in Brighton Beach, and bought ice cream pops from the cute boy selling Good Humor. In spite of their gross caloric consumption, they could shamelessly stand erect in their two piece bathing suits, while I never got off the blanket because lying flat on your back made your stomach look thinner. (I did lose weight that summer, and also got a really bad sunburn due to my constant odalisque-like pose.)
I guess that was a kick-start for what was to become a regular pattern for the years that followed. When you are genetically predisposed to carrying around extra pounds, you unfortunately find yourself devoting considerable energy to outsmarting those pesky fat cells that are forever laughing at you from behind your belly button.
You name the diet, and I have tried it. Remember Dr. Stillman and his eight to ten glasses of water diet? That kept you close to home. He preceded Dr. Atkins, perhaps even inspired him. (Yes, I tried that one, too.) On the Stillman diet you gave up all carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables. Forget about dessert cravings. The deprivation felt so extreme that I had hallucinations about iceberg lettuce.
I’ve tried Weight Watchers before the points, and Weight Watchers after the points. (Weight Watchers after the points is somewhat more challenging due to the arithmetic.) Want to know about the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, the three-day diet? Just ask me. Celebrity diets? Oprah and Kirstie and I have been up and down the scale together.
I happen to have a personal fondness for the “geography” diets like the Hollywood Diet and the South Beach Diet, and if I add my own hard-boiled egg and saltines regiment, the Bensonhurst Diet. Wouldn’t it be great if every state had its own diet? How about the Idaho potato diet? Or the Alaska Grizzly Bear diet? (How many calories do you think there are in a grizzly paw?)
But I have reached a time in my life when I am finally asking “When?” When will the extra five pounds stop being a determining force in how I live my life? Or even an extra seven or eight? Ten is my absolute limit. When will I tune out Dr. Oz and his miracle berries guaranteed to speed up metabolism or his appetite suppressant made from the bark of an exotic tree in the Rain Forest? (Although I have noticed that people living along the Amazon tend to be rather thin.)
When will I light a funeral pyre for my bathroom scale and perhaps even my full-length mirror, and send them ablaze into the waters? When is that magic age of acceptance when vanity will finally permit me to be comfortable in my own, though somewhat abundant, skin?
I hope it happens very soon and I hope it’s a Monday. On that morning I will declare that today I shall eat an Oreo!