You know what’s awesome about dieting?
Not a damn thing.
I’m alternately surly, sarcastic and downright ornery between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. My stomach demands food, RIGHT NOW. My apple, cheese stick and granola bar washed down with water is a far cry from the needs of my belly.
I know why I’m doing this. I spent five years (the four in college plus a post-grad year in Memphis) eating what I wanted, when I wanted with no ramifications. I also didn’t have a mirror in my house at the time.
And then one day last year I caught a glimpse of my shirtless self in the mirror and said, out loud, “My, what a slovenly fat ass you’ve become.”
I used to be trim (unhealthily so, actually) and athletic. I could run a couple of miles without stopping to throw up and without my knees screaming at me. I had devolved to the point where I wheezed like a fat man at Hooters when I walked up a couple flights of stairs.
I had to make a change of some sort. I didn’t want to have a heart attack because I over-exerted myself hauling groceries in from the garage one day when I was 29 years old.
Working out was out of the question, not that I didn’t try. Have you ever tried lugging 275 pounds around on a treadmill? It’s not impossible, but there are better things to do with your time. I would make the walk from my apartment to the gym (about a quarter mile away) and be exhausted by the time I got there.
I always said I would rather sacrifice my body and spare time to working out rather than give up eating like a liberated sixth grader. I realized fairly quickly that would not be the case, mainly because working out left my disheveled body a carcass of fail.
So I’ve been dieting. Since January, I’ve dropped a significant amount of weight – less than 100 pounds, more than 30. I’m extremely proud of myself; I list it among one of my chief accomplishments in life. Not everybody has the willpower to stop eating everything that isn’t bolted down. I did; I have no problem bragging about myself where that’s concerned.
It does have a downside though and it’s that you have to, you know, not eat stuff.
I eat the aforementioned apple/cheese stick/granola bar combo every day for lunch, unless I’m feeling froggy and go for Subway (the healthiest fast food option possible). Breakfast is either another granola bar or a bagel if I’m not being rushed. I take a zinc pill that’s supposed to confuse my stomach into thinking it’s full. I drink water, constantly.
And it’s all as miserable as it sounds. I miss fried stuff. I miss grease. I miss regular potato chips. Sure, I indulge on occasion – I’m as human as the next person – but never to the point of blissful excess I became accustomed to.
Some things I don’t do; full-sugar soft drinks – I’ve gone to Diet Dr. Pepper, which makes me want to put a kitten in a wood chipper just by admitting to it – and Gatorade are all but gone from my life. Pizza rolls are a seldom treat. Even regular hand-tossed pizza is an issue; the crust is so bad for you that I eat thin crust, which has the consistency of sun-dried boogers but may keep me alive for an extra two days.
(Notice: I haven’t cut out beer, but it’s been severely curtailed. The dark beers I love have become a once-a-day or every other day item. I’ve even begun drinking vodka and orange juice, since it offers some vitamins with my liver failure. Good times!)
My wife, bless her, has been accommodating of my change. She cooks healthy food for me, without complaint, even though it’s a tremendous pain in the ass and life would be much simpler if she just grabbed a pizza on the way home or popped in some corn dogs and tater tots (God, do I miss tater tots).
Why am I writing about this? Because this weekend, during my 25th birthday celebration, I’m going to eat all the food I’ve been avoiding. I’m going to drink dark beer and smoke a cigar and gamble and stay out too late and eat fried food at terrible hours. I’m going to party like it’s 2009, and if the end result is I’m dead by Tuesday – or worse, that I’ve put 10 pounds back on that will take more than a fortnight to lose – it will be the greatest weekend of my life.
(If I’m not dead, it’ll still probably be pretty good.)