Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Unless you are a featherweight, one of the quickest ways to ruin your day is to step on the scales in the morning. The only way to salvage any optimistic outlook at all, after stepping on those scales, is to blame that extra weight on the scales. Telling yourself it is five to ten pounds off kilter gives you enough stamina to eat that breakfast doughnut with your coffee. Or, if you are really dismayed about the results of your weigh-in, you may be inspired to go on another diet.

Let me begin by explaining that I think thin people should be outlawed. We don't need them. They make dieting impossible, because while you are chewing your celery stick and sipping cabbage soup, they are noncholantly downing an array of forbidden items, a little bit like that snake tempting Eve. It is so easy, in the presence of thin people, to feel so morbidly fat that you give up and gobble that extra helping, along with dessert. Fat people teeter on the edge of a precupice, one tiny push, one feeling of inferiority, and they plunge into an abyss of despair and that abyss is always filled with fattening foods.

Some dirty, lowdown, despicable soul, I can't remember who, but I am sure he is in league with the devil, suggested that "fad" diets do not work and that the only way to lose weight is to cut down the number of calories one consumes. But, actually, we professional dieters prefer to think that there is some way we can become fashionably slim and eat our cake, too. We have spent thousands of dollars searching for this, joining clubs, buying pills and potions, visiting health clubs, salons, walking clubs, exercise groups, buying health the quest for some way to take off weight while still enjoying life. And to a Fatty like myself, life is my favorite foods. I have never met a pie I didn't like.

Some people, more than a hundred pounds overweight, have selected stomach surgery. This is really a life-saving measure for people who must lose weight or suffer terrible health problems. But it doesn't help those who are only 99 pounds overweight, or ten, or twenty, or forty. No doctor wants to operate when this is the case. It is up to you to use diet and exercise to control your weight. And, if there is anything I hate worse than dieting, it's exercise.

My last diet was conceived by a "trainer" and I found it in a magazine, along with a picture of this young trainer standing beside a svelte movie star in sweats and a t-shirt practicing the exercises he advised. I decided that, if I followed his diet, perhaps I could look like that movie star. His diet was high on fodder and low on food, if you know what I mean. I was allowed to chomp on a bushel basket of green, leafy stuff, along with this miniscule portion of anything that would stick to the ribs. Needless to say, I fell off that diet, just as I have fallen off of hundreds of diets, emerging bloody, but unbowed. And still fat, let me hasten to add.

At one time, I took off a large amount of weight with Weight Watcher's. At that time, one had to eat tuna by the case, or rather, any kind of fish one could afford. The more fish you ate, the more fat you lost, was the slogan. I ate fish until I sprouted gills, but I did lose weight. I even began to work for Weight Watcher's, as a lecturer, and spent a couple of years with my own groups, helping others lose weight. I have a very high regard for Florine Mark, who was a great gal to work for and who has kept her own weight on an even keel for years, while the rest of us seesaw like Oprah Winfrey, without a fraction of Oprah's money. When I quit and went on to a writing career, the pounds came back like swallows to Capistrano.

Since then, I have been on a quest for a good diet. I keep searching for that diet that will allow me to eat...and not only to eat, but to eat what I like. Unfortunately, what I like is hardly ever included in a diet and, if it is, it is in such small portions one could swallow it and not even know it. However, it may be foolish to hope that chocolate cake will ever be included in a weight loss program.

Lately, it is no wonder that obesity remains a national problem. Even doctors cannot agree on the proper way to lose weight. We were told by such doctors as Dean Ornitz that the healthiest way to go was the Fat Free route, and many of us had given up steaks and pork chops in favor of huge bowls of rice and chunks of fat free bread, but we were then informed that, starches were MAKING us fat, and we should eat an All Fat Diet, chowing down steaks and porkchops and forgetting the rice and bread. A complete aboutface by the medical world.

Dr. Atkins didn't publicize this diet, however, until after I had bought scads of fat-free items, like salad dressings, butter, milk, etc....all of the stuff that kids look at and say "Yuck!" but which puts a little bounce back in a Fat Free diet. I got to the point where if someone had mentioned that a piece of cardboard is Fat Free, I'd have spread a little mustard on it and eaten it.

I also ran into a book by Susan Powter, who had hardly any hair on her head, who said that I should walk at least 30 minutes a day, to go along with my Fat Free Festival. So off I went, trudging through sleet, snow, hail, wind and rain in search of Calista Flockhart's figure, willing to try anything for a while...jump rope while holding a forty pound weight in my teeth? Okay, I'll try it. Cut my hair that short? Okay, there goes a few ounces.

Dr. Atkins ruined Susan's diet for me, even though I did lose weight following her advice. I also got calluses on my feet and dreaded that 30 minute walk like a terminal disease, but that's beside the point. I flipped on the television one day and, lo, there sat chubby little Dr. Atkins, telling me to go eat a steak and as many eggs as I could handle. By that time, I was so hungry for meat that I deserted the Fat Free ranks and joined the Atkins In Crowd. I tore into pork chops like a starving tiger, ripping the meat off the bone with such force that I may have lost a pound or two right there. And eggs! There wasn't an egg safe from my hungry assault.

After a week of meat and eggs, I had indeed lost a few pounds. I was elated. I was also so hungry for a slice of bread I would have sold my soul to the devil for a cinnamon bun. I didn't just miss starch, I yearned for it, dreamed of it, and fantasized about it. So I began to rewrite the Atkins diet, adding a little starch here, a little starch there. Pretty soon the precious pounds I had lost came back once again.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no diet around where you can lose weight and live comfortably. That horrible person who said you have to eat less is undoubtedly right, even though he is probably stick thin and deserves banishment from decent company. And I am angry at fate and my parents' genes that caused this flabby fanny of mine! I also rant at the gods for bringing me into being in the wrong era? Lillian Russell, an old time singer, was nothing if not chubby. I would have had an ideal shape back then, curvaceous, womanly, full-figured. I'd have been hailed as a "goddess of beauty" back in that century. Is it my fault I was born too late?

I may have to give up and accept those extra pounds as a part of me. I may have to join the Fat is Beautiful club. But, until I do, there are a few more diets I want to try. I haven't yet explored the grapefruit diet, or the South Beach Diet, or several others. I may even go trotting back to Weight Watcher's like the Prodigal Fatty. If I find that their new program includes chocolate cake, I'll let you know.