So the other day I was on the phone with my friend Doris (not her real name). She’s had a very rough winter. Some strange malady has been sapping all her energy. The slightest household chore sends her crawling to the sofa to lie down. Her doctors have assured her that it is nothing life threatening, yet they can’t seem to get to the bottom of what ails her.
I call her regularly for an update on her situation. Sadly, she reports about all the things she cannot seem to do, all the dates she’s had to cancel, how she suddenly feels very old and vulnerable, how bored she is, and how she doesn’t even have the energy to eat. Her voice reflects her pathetic state of being.
I’m about to shed tears on her behalf, when suddenly there is a shift. With a noticeable lightness of tone that definitely was not there before, she states, “…and oh, by the way, I’ve lost 10 pounds!”
Immediately, I experience a change in my own attitude. The place where there had been empathy was now occupied by envy. Her malady would pass, and she would be 10 pounds thinner. Diet-less weight-loss. That is so unfair.
I confess to finding my response somewhat alarming. Envying my poor tired friend because she was spared the calorie counting and endless trips to the gym? What did that say about me? Had I completely lost my mind, or was I merely a woman of a certain age looking for an alternative solution to “weight creep,” those subtle, sneaky 10 pounds that, with each passing decade, find their way to your middle?
And, suddenly, last year’s pants just won’t zip anymore, even if you lie flat on the floor and coax your large dog to sit on your stomach. Even two large dogs sitting on your stomach won’t allow those stubborn pieces of metal to come together.
(Women blessed with the thin gene, do you even know what I’m talking about?)
Wasn’t there a condition that would work for me? Nothing serious, of course, but maybe a prolonged stomach virus, or perhaps some extensive dental work that would render me unable to chew?
I thought longingly of my first trip to Mexico, when, in addition to a sun tan and a pair of huaraches, I arrived home with some strange flora andor fauna that had taken up residence in my intestinal tract. Despite the fact that medical tests did not discover any deadly organisms, my stomach had turned into a food processor with the button stuck on puree. A little inconvenient, but over the course of three glorious weeks, despite eating hamburgers with the buns, and the sides of fries, I managed to shed seven pounds. Perhaps I should call my travel agent.
I wondered, would a man react similarly? Or was this just one more example of an intelligent, well-educated, sophisticated woman worshipping false idols? Idols like Victoria’s Secret models, or half-naked women on “Dancing With The Stars?” (Truth is, even in my best year, I never looked like that.)
I know. This is the part where I should give myself a good talking-to. A lecture about aging with grace, accepting the new normal, loving my still lovely, if slightly heavier self, about not focusing on belly fat, enjoying my food, and perhaps even considering getting a new pair of pants. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.
I do acknowledge, however, that it’s completely insane to focus on bacteria as a means of weight loss. And so my thoughts turn to another sure-fire path to fat reduction that does not involve dieting and the gym – stress.
Yes, this had some immediate possibilities. In another week, husband, dogs, and I would be relocating, leaving our place in Florida to move up north for the summer. What this means for me is a sudden onset of OCD with more than a touch of mania.
Since I compulsively feel that the house must be left in perfect order, I will frantically move about the place cleaning, washing, straightening, and organizing. I will run up and down the stairs with armfuls of clothes that need to be packed and shipped. Outdoor furniture needs to be moved indoors. I will lie awake at night creating to-do lists. Closets must be reorganized, and perishable food disposed of. I’ll be exhausted by the end of each day, and realize that I have forgotten to eat. (Forgotten to eat? Isn’t that what skinny people do?) By the time we are ready to leave, I will be bone weary and sleep deprived.
But living through all this hysteria is guaranteed to shed a few unwanted pounds. And that, my friends, is the silver lining.
Post Script: This is a new feature that from time to time I might include in a blog post if I come across an item that relates to an essay I have recently written. So here is the first P.S.
In an essay called “Eat My Face,” published on December 15, 2014, I talked about face creams that claim to harness the mystical powers of foodstuffs, such as avocados and artichokes, to create a more youthful you. Here is the latest. In a recent ad in the New York Times Estee Lauder has announced a new product which promises radiant, profoundly younger skin because it has been infused with the rare power of precious Black Diamond Truffle Extract. Wonder how it tastes over pasta?