My resolution to lose weight/start working out/eat healthy always begins in a different way. One time, I could be flipping through GQ and stumble across a fashion spread in which Kim Kardashian’s new hubby models the Summer’s Coolest Swimwear. “I don’t need a $300 dollar Marc Jacobs swimsuit to get ready for the beach!” I think to myself. “I need Kris’s perfect physique!” Alternatively, I could be out at a club and spot a cute guy standing alone in the corner. Right as I begin contemplating worthy ice-breakers, his well-muscled, tank-top clad boyfriend returns from the bar, using his perfectly sculpted arm to hand him a drink, and I immediately start wondering how many calories are in my Long Island Iced Tea and how many push-ups I would have to do before I resembled said boyfriend. Other times, I’ll be watching television late at night, a microwaved burrito balanced in my lap, when the P90X infomercial comes on. I’d get the remote control to switch the channel, but it’s all the way on the other side of the room and my warm bean and cheese delight is pinning me to the couch. So, I continue watching until the entire burrito has disappeared, although it’s not until I unbutton my jeans that I’m really forced to examine my life choices and allow myself to become persuaded by Tony Horton’s abs. “Fine, you bastard! I’ll start exercising tomorrow!”
But no matter how the resolution comes to be, it always ends the same: in tragic failure.
The first week always goes relatively well. I go to the grocery store and eschew all delicious desserts and salty snacks, opting instead for celery and fat free yogurt. In the cereal aisle, I put down the Fruit Loops and pick up the Fiber One. I go to the mall and buy new running shoes, sometimes even going as far as to break them in with a nice easy jog around my neighborhood one night. I buy a bathroom scale and cut out a picture from a magazine for “thinspiration.” I’m going to be a Calvin Klein model in no time!
Week two, I step on the scale and there’s no progress whatsoever. My jeans are not falling lower on my hips and my shirt buttons are not bursting from newly formed chest and shoulder muscles, despite the 20 push-ups I did the night before. Discouraged, I turn to the internet in seek of advice and discover a world full of trendy diets and rigorous workouts. I contemplate juice fasts (grapefruit, lemonade, açaí), cleanses and detox diets (cabbage soup, bananas) and become convinced that any one of them could hold the key to my transformation into a virtual Adonis. I stick with it for 24 hours until I decide I am probably starving myself (I am) and may actually end up getting too skinny (I won’t).
At this point, in my desperate state, I begin to seek options other than healthy diet and regular exercise. “It’s too hard,” I tell myself, “there must be another way!” Unfortunately, unwholesome alternatives are what spring to mind first. I think back to the time I got food poisoning and lost five pounds, and begin searching Yelp.com for sushi restaurants on the verge of being shut down by the health department. Then I recall the hours spent scrubbing my bathroom post-food-poisoning and decide to come up with something better. After remembering that nicotine curbs your appetite and speeds up your metabolism, I briefly consider taking up smoking – only to envision some of the overweight smokers I’ve met in my life and decide that it’s not enough of a guarantee. Maybe cocaine? I knew some sorority girls in college who swore by coke, and come swimsuit season they always looked fabulous, if not a little strung out. I could think of it as “The Kate Moss Diet” and feel thin AND glamorous at the same time. But I wouldn’t even know where to buy any.
Finally, hungry and disillusioned, I begin to rationalize any and all desired food consumption with some transparently faulty logic. Do I want to eat an entire basket of ketchup-soaked French fries? Well, it’s really just potatoes and tomatoes, both of which come from the earth, and therefore they must be healthy. Also, how different is ice cream from that yogurt I’ve been eating anyway? May as well go for the Ben and Jerry’s – it’s on sale. And pizza? That’s really just a quick way to cover all the food groups in one meal! Crust, sauce, meat, cheese, veggies – it’s basically a superfood! I pat myself on the back for being so healthy and efficient.
Sadly, the new bathroom scale does not register these rationalizations as well as my mind does, and I know it’s time for my diet to come to an end. The vicious battle concludes with me deciding that I never really needed to lose weight in the first place, that I’m content just the way I am. I flip back through the GQ swimsuit spread and whisper “Photoshop” under my breath. I stare at the guy in the club and think to myself, “My future boyfriend should love me for my personality!” And, when the P90X commercial comes on late at night, I look at Tony Horton and then I look at my burrito and I reflect on the fact that he will probably never eat one of these godsend burritos for the rest of his life. How happy could he really be?