My girlfriend is hot, but she also has hot flashes. She’s fit and healthy and beautiful, but she’s entering a stage of life during which it has become harder for her to be pleased with her body, and that has led us both (because being unaffected by this is not an option, I’ve learned) into some amusingly unsuccessful attempts at dieting.
Preemptive Disclaimer: No girlfriends or girlfriends’ feelings were harmed in the making of this piece. All girlfriend likenesses, representations, and details are provided only after securing the expressed written consent of the girlfriend in question.
She is absolutely enamored with the idea of the 30-day challenge trend, and she wants to extend it to everything. We’re each currently involved in two (at her behest), and she’s actively and officially encouraged the undergraduates in the classes she teaches to undertake them as well. Oh yeah, it’s that serious. We’re talking that level of obsession. It’s not just an idea she likes for her, it’s an idea she likes for everyone. That’s how these things go.
It might sound like a drag for me, but it is not. And the reason for that is not because I adore her so much that my tolerance is inordinately high. It’s because I can’t wait for the hilarious disaster that follows the good intentions. I mean, she’s great and all, but the real treat is the inevitable train wreck. You see, while my girlfriend loves the idea of committing to self-improvement challenges, she absolutely lacks any conviction toward carrying them out.
Let’s examine our most recent attempt at her version of a dietary cleanse. “I have a great idea!” she says as she springs around the corner smiling ear to ear. And now I’m smiling too, because I know how little time it takes for her to begin cursing these “great ideas”. “Let’s hear it,” I say with dirty, despicable glee. Bring on the disaster!
She explains to me that we’re going to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for three days in order to clean out our systems. I’m pretty sure this isn’t even a valid dietary strategy, but I’m fat and she’s fit, so I assume she knows more about it than I do. I happily and readily agree, and immediately a look of concern crosses her face. Let the backtracking begin! We’re not even 15 seconds from the original suggestion, and she’s already explaining how we should allow ourselves to make exceptions for condiments.
Just to give the knife one cruel little twist, I indicate that I won’t need the condiments, so that she has to admit that it is she (and not “we”) who will.
Even though she’s aware that it is not in my nature to be seriously judgmental about such things (nor do I have any room to be), she waits until I leave the apartment to scarf down a tremendous amount of pasta loaded with cheese and butter. I’m just finding this out as I write this, but I know her well enough that I suspected she must have “pre-gamed” her “cleanse” somehow.
When I get home, she’s alive with energy, ranging somewhere between “excited” and “panicked” about her own idea. The idea of the commitment is appealing, but she’s beginning to glimpse the harrowing reality right around the corner.
I’m not even out of bed the next morning, when I hear her distressed call from the bathroom, “I’ve created a problem with the closet door that I can’t solve!” It has begun. After reassuring her that it’ll be okay and that I’ll be right there, I drag myself out of bed to find the closet door wedged open like this:
See that small box of Milk Bones in the bottom left? There’s your culprit. It needed to be moved about three inches to the left in order to free that jacket at the right and allow the door to be closed. She also somehow managed to pull the handle all the way off the door (see the bare screw in the middle of the door panel). This all took me 17 seconds to rectify, …and that’s including the time it took to grab my phone and take this picture. I love these days; we’ve reached threat-level meltdown in record time.
She tells me that we need to go to the grocery store, which makes sense since this entire campaign was frenetically conceived of and enacted without any prior planning at 11:00 last night.
I’m an enthusiastic companion. We’re still in the car on the way to the grocery store when she complains of a debilitating “hunger headache”. It’s not even 10:00am, she devoured a monstrous bowl of pasta, cheese and butter the night before, she’s already had a banana this morning, and normally she might have a cup of yogurt for breakfast. You’ll forgive me if I’m not convinced that she’s suffering actual physiological signs of starvation quite yet.
We pass a road that reminds her of the one near a newly built Uncle Mike’s bakery (not the actual road, mind you, but just one that reminds her of it), and she tells me how nice looking the new Uncle Mike’s is inside. She catches herself and quickly insists that she currently has no interest in the giant iced pastries for which they are famous and to which she normally refers at least twice a week. I’m not even sure she’s been to that new Uncle Mike’s location yet. It’s been open for like three days.
Inside the grocery store, she scuffs and trudges through the produce section, forcing herself to feign interest in the fruits and vegetables we’re picking out. It’s worth pointing out here that she’s a pescatarian and that she normally survives mostly on fruits and vegetables. This isn’t about the produce that’s going into the cart, though; it’s about all the carbs that aren’t.
As we head to the checkout she looks in dismay at the cart full of produce and mutters, “I’m starving already.”
Before we’re out of the parking lot, she’s impatiently demanding that I tear open the grocery bags and feed her “anything”. I remember that she told me that she didn’t lose any weight doing the Whole 30 diet because she gorged uncontrollably on almond butter until she finally gave up. It’s 11:00am on the first day of our cleanse.
When I try to soothe her by gently suggesting that she can’t already honestly be that ravenous, she lashes out at me as if I’ve subjected her to the cruelest of betrayals. Keep in mind, I’m twice her size and have eaten a small fraction of what she has in the past 14 hours. “I have a very efficient body!” she protests. Her communication skills are crumbling beneath the weight of her desperation. I think she means she has a very high metabolism. I also think that if she really believed that, there’d be no reason for us to be doing this “cleanse”.
Day 2 didn’t go so well, interaction-wise, so we’ll leave that one off the record, but let’s foreshadow it by saying that we were still not even halfway through Day 1 when she exclaimed, “I need some fat to get me through the rest of the day because I’m going to get my hair cut!” How many calories are required to receive a haircut, exactly? The train of reason basically followed that track the remainder of the day.
On Day 3, our not-so-long personal nightmare finally ended with a full belly and a sigh. “I need to find a new way to feed myself,” she groaned after polishing off a 6-inch pan of inch-thick cornbread. I reassured her that she looked great and commended her for her effort. “I think I need a life coach,” she reflected, “…but just about food.”