interest due

I gotta be honest, I dread reading blogs this time of year. Hell, I dread reading anything this time of year. My inbox is full of Groupon deals for raw food cleanses, workout bootcamps, and fat-melting injections. My feed is full of folks avowing their weight loss resolutions, fitness goals, and strict diet plans.

And I? I am full of prickly venom, wrath, and scorn.

I am also full of a sense of irony that I am blogging about how I hate reading about dieting on other blogs.1

Time out for a bit of a backstory. If you’re short on time and attention span, feel free to skip down a few paragraphs to where all the cussing begins:

My relationship with dieting began in high school, when I decided I needed to shed the pounds I had collected during a bout of middle school misery. From there it was a long, strange trip from utter nutritional ignorance to fairly balanced wellbeing, with stops at every dietary fad, trend, and wives’ tale along the way.

Oh, I knew all the tips. Eat slowly. Drink lots of water. Exercise regularly. Use a smaller plate. No snacking between meals. Serve smaller portions. Substitute this for that. Never eat after 8 p.m. I studied. I kept a diary of my calorie intake for so long that I knew exactly how many calories were in what amount of food item just by glancing at it. I went vegetarian. I went raw. I tried Atkins. I avoided all fats. I cut carbs. I cut dairy. I cut processed foods. I juiced. I ate “negative calorie” soups, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I downed spoonfuls of fish liver oil. I swallowed weight loss pills. I got up at 5:00 in the morning to go running before work and school. I ran again at night; ashamed that I’d broken down and eaten a cupcake someone cruelly and thoughtlessly left in the break room.

I wish I was exaggerating.

The saddest thing? This epic struggle, this ferocious battle? It was all over 5-15 pounds. I never would have described myself as a chronic dieter during those years, but I was. Sure, I’d indulge here and there, on a weekend or during holidays, and occasionally I’d slip into more prolonged bouts of indulgence. But on the average I was never not dieting. I always, always thought I had more to lose.

Then, something happened. Something deep inside my psyche finally snapped.

[Note: cussing begins below! Yay!]

Somewhere approaching age 30 I decided: you know what? I’m fine with my body after all. AND I DO NOT. WANT. TO DIET. EVER AGAIN. Talk to me about a diet and I will punch you in the face. This is the latent rage I feel at having lost the last third of my life to guilt and misery. This is the blind fury I feel at the very thought of restriction and abstinence. These two giant middle fingers waving in the air? They’re for YOU, dieting. Fuck you up one side and down the fucking other. Diets ain’t shit but hoes and tricks. Food up, diets down. We poppin’ champagne like we won an anti-dieting game.

Just so we’re clear: dieting. It makes me angry. It also makes me rap.

So… what does a diet-hater do when she realizes that she kiiiinda needs to go on one?

Apparently, she writes a blog post about it, so she can spread around her discomfort about facing her fears. Here, gentle readers! Squirm with me! Don’t we all enjoy anxiety? DON’T WE?

The other day a thought hit me like a semi truck: I have spent the last two weeks feeling pissy about other people’s weight loss goals because I am perturbed at the state of my own weight. It’s not a dire situation; it’s just a little of the usual holiday padding. But since the very idea of dieting — of returning to those old restrictions — gets me so agitated that I want to claw my face off, other people’s personal goals turned into an affront. I temporarily became one of those people who can’t stand encountering someone who does things differently from them, because they feel like that difference equals direct criticism. Really. As if their choices are a scathing indictment of my own lack of resolve.

Eating is a lot like spirituality: it’s highly fucking personal. Food evangelists will try to tell you different, but there is no one right way of eating. Yes. I said it. It has been said. People’s needs are so vastly different. Some of us have specific health conditions or aversions. Some of us have ethical beliefs or religious restrictions. Some of us are “all or none” personalities and need to absolutely avoid trigger foods. Some of us have deep emotional ties to food we can hardly begin to unravel.

If someone wants to go on a juice fast for the next eight weeks, bravo. Huzzah! Go in peace, my healthful friend. I will continue to eat cheese, just… maybe not so much of it. Because that’s the kind of “diet” I need right now. Me alone. Because I may have reached a point of no return with dieting, a point where I’ve accepted the way my body is — but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally need to make adjustments to it.

I just don’t think I can call it dieting, though. That’s too much, too soon. Instead I’m going to call it something else. I’m going to refer to it as “paying interest.” That’s what I need to do. A little at a time. Because the interest on those holiday food loans I took out are coming due, and no one wants to get hit with those late fees.

Womp, womp.

What’s your take? Are you getting on or falling off the New Year’s weight loss bandwagon?


1 Not your blog! Never your blog. I love you. Let’s get married.

20 Responses to “interest due”

  1. Hell yeah. I fucking hate dieting, I fucking hate it when women feel guilty for eating (do we feel guilty for blinking?), I fucking hate it all. All the resolution lists are making me cranky this year. January is bad enough for those of us in the northern United States (not that you’d know, ahem), we don’t need to be all starving ourselves. Although I am going to up my fruit intake so as to not contract scurvy and possibly start running so that I don’t kill my spouse or anyone else for doing something irritating like, oh you know, breathing around me.

  2. You know that point where you say “Cussing begins below!” – yeah, I’m at that point right now. I never dieted, but because I was so damned active (three sport athlete + horseback riding, all the way through college), I had an incredibly skewed idea of what I would look like once I was no longer a college athlete. And it’s taken a few years to figure that out and come to terms with it. But I’m also, luckily, sticking my fingers in my ears and going “LALALALALA” as loud as I can whenever the NYResolutioners start babbling. It’s taken too long to get to this point to let other people eff it up. Your eating of cheese, just less of it, is exactly my route as well.

  3. I’m refusing to even think about it. I’ve realized that my held-steady-for-5-years weight is now my low-end, but I still tend to hit it in the summer… and without too much effort. I’m trying to stay in the “I have a healthy lifestyle, my body will do what it needs to do” camp.

    But this – “Eating is a lot like spirituality: it’s highly fucking personal. Food evangelists will try to tell you different, but there is no one right way of eating.” – was really, really good to read. Thanks.

  4. Lyn, we are on the same diet! Let’s co-write a book about it and make millions. We can call it: “Who Moved My Little Bit Less Cheese?”

    *My* life is too fucking short for *me* to be okay with dieting. When I want to feel better about myself, I take a week off from alcohol and drink more water.

  5. Yes, yes, yes! So much yes.

    I did just start training for a half-marathon, not because of any resolution for weight, but because I put “run a marathon before you turn 30” on my bucket list. This seemed like a totally realistic goal when I was 22, but as I turn 30 in 5 months, I have to get on that shit. But I totally hate being lumped in with all those resolvers.

  6. When my pants start getting tight, I start so-called “healthy eating”, which is basically to eat what I normally like, but with a little more veg and maybe fewer cookies. I refuse to diet. But I hate buying new pants with an expletive ridden passion, so it’s easier to add an extra workout a week, or eat oven roasted maple syrup squash for dinner than to go shopping.

    My weight’s basically been the same since I was 20, and while I’m not thin, my range is narrow and fixed, and I’m so much happier not trying to fight or starve myself thinner. There are so many other more fun things to do with my time.

    Although, right now? I’m having trouble putting on weight and am completely disinterested in food (because even yogurt gives me heartburn). I’m sure not eating is bad for the baby, so in the effort of getting a minimum amount of daily calories in, I’ve eaten lucky charms for dinner more than once. Washed down with ice cream. What? Kid wants calcuium… It’s weird being on the totally opposite end of the January health craze.

    • not sure if this is annoying or helpful, but Rebecca at just had twins and said watermelon killed the heartburn. (don’t know if you even like it or anything, but I react to heartburn with “I WILL NEVER EAT AGAIN ARG ARG ARG!” so I couldn’t not pass it on.

  7. I think 30 was a magical fuck-this-diet-crap year for me too. I finally accepted that my body is my body and I want to stop hating it. I wanted to just make it the best version it could be, based on the life I’ve built for myself. A life in which I simply don’t value 2 hours detours for fitness at the expense of my career, relationships, and treasured hobbies. So… healthy food (without counting, without deprivation, without freakouts for an occasional cupcake) and moderate exercise a few times a week. If I do more, great. I can admit I like looking super fit. But if I do less, oh freaking well. I’ll feel healthy and that will be good enough.

    But I do like the New Years reset though. Not in a “transform you health” type of way, but in a “thank god there are no more piles of christmas cookies around the office and I have no more excuses to stuff my face every night” way

    So yeah. Fuck diets. Hooray for healthy living. That includes mental health.

  8. “Food evangelists will try to tell you different, but there is no one right way of eating.”

    THANK YOU. Food evangelists kinda drive me nuts. People have to do what works for them — *in their own time*. And it might not be the hottest “no-this, only that” plan. And frankly, I feel like if you wait two seconds, scientists/nutritionists/physicians/gurus will take what they claimed was the one and only truth and flip it on its head (Coffee is evil! Coffee prevents cancer! You should run marathons! No, marathon running causes heart damage!”). Which sometimes makes me feel like giving up altogether and diving into a pile of Little Debbie Snacks, though I know that’s not the most mature response, LOL. I was reading a paleo diet type blog the other day, and for a minute, I started getting really confused and wondering if I should try it, they seem so much “better” than me, yadda yadda yadda. And then I decided, nah, not for me, not right now, not even sure I agree with it.

    I have my own methods now for how I prefer to eat/workout, but I don’t consider it all to be a diet or regimen– though I suppose others might disagree. I’m done with the beating myself up, the weird, nonsensical, restrictions, the questionable diet-y products, weighing myself, going to parties and eating only salad, and then coming home to the inevitable fridge-raiding binge, etc. Over the years, I’ve struggled with some pretty horrible disordered eating habits, and I’m so glad to finally be free from them. Seriously, I’m still amazed when I’m finally able to just eat until I’m full, not measure my food, etc.

    I just want to be healthy… and sometimes I stick more to those principles, sometimes less (and over the holidays? A whole lot of less. But I’m cool with that). Sometimes my opinion of what = healthy changes (thanks, scientists ;P). I’ve given up some things, since they made me feel crappy (coffee), other things I eat on occasion (I’m not going to a football game and NOT getting a chili cheese dog), and other foods I’ll probably never give up (chocolate! cheese!), but for me, I say to hell with the whole on-or-off-the-wagon idea.

  9. it took me a very similar long and bumpy road (and over 5-15 pounds!) to realize that I will never be okay with dieting. I never even went as far as cutting out foods I love, I’d just eat them and then be mad at myself afterwards.

    so I have to remind myself that all I’m trying to do now is exercise regularly. not lose weight, not get skinny, just get my ass moving. I’m hoping that’ll fix all my problems (which are, I’m realizing, all in my head)

  10. I believe it was you I had the “I’m actually enjoying this holiday pudge” Twitter conversation with. Because I was. My tits and ass looked exceptionally good and I didn’t so much mind the roundness in my belly because it looked soft and pretty. I was all, “look at me, embracing a 5-10 pound weight gain! Sanity post wedding, how I’ve longed for you!”

    But then there is the stuff like, “Oh shit, those pants don’t fit and now I have no clean pants!” or “Do I yank harder on this zipper or pick a different dress to wear?” or seeing photos of me and wondering if everyone else sees the roundness in my face. It is starting to get to me, and January is no help. So, yep, I’m in my “slightly less cheese” mode too.

    By the by, if you would like to be a viral video star, I suggest you write and perform an entire anti-dieting rap. I will drop a beat for you ifn’ya.

  11. I think I’ve been lucky to avoid reading all the January Diet/Cleanse/Change My Life with an UltraMarathon writings, so I haven’t taken the time to make health-related resolutions other than to support my man in his. This state of ignorance is wonderful, until you go and suggest paying interest, and I start tallying the number of holiday-wrapped reese’s and hershey kisses I’ve scarfed in the last few weeks. So I’ll just put that handful of chocolate back in the basket. Right now. Thanks.

  12. this year was the first year in a long while that i didn’t make any weight related resolutions and i feel fucking great about it. instead, i gave my car back (it was a lease) and started biking to work. it forces me to get at least 45-60 minutes of exercise a day and also makes me feel superior to all the people stuck in traffic, which coincidentally, is great for my mood. 🙂

  13. I’m horrible dieting and horrible exercising because of stupid health problem. I’m not even allowed to drink anything fun. No booze, no coffee. I am very SAD about that.

  14. I tried an official “diet” once for about 5 minutes. I’m barely kidding. I got SO insanely grumpy I had to call it quits or John and my family would probably have up and walked away.

    Since then I’ve just done the ‘bit less cheese’ approach and it works wonders. I don’t think too hard about it, I just, well, eat a bit less cheese (and other things when we run out of cheese, though I make sure that rarely happens).

    But I have to admit, this year everyone’s talk of gluten-free, sugar-free and paleo diets (I only learned this term two days ago and am still a little confused about it) is making me feel a little inferior. But eating IS fucking personal and I am just not the abstainer type. I can handle moderation so moderate I will.

  15. I loved this so much! I was smiling and shaking my head, “yes, yes!” as I read along.

    Until I got to the rapping.

    And then I busted out laughing and went all “What! What!”

    Remember that link that was going around recently, the top 5 things people regret on their deathbeds, or something like that? Yeah, you got it, “I wish I’d dieted more” ain’t nowhere to be seen!

    I wish I had some words of wisdom, but I don’t…and it just gets worse/harder as we (women most particularly) get older. This month, I’m closer to 50 ( than I ever dreamed possible and I have to exercise and really, REALLY watch what I eat or…gross, it just gets ugly. It’s not fun…

    I’m glad you wrote about this!

  16. This time of year shits me no end, because everyone’s gone from ‘we simply must eat and drink everything we see’ to ‘now it’s time to be good’. ‘Be good’?! WTF are we 6 years old? Healthy eating is an ongoing thing, it’s not cyclical you freaks. I refuse to feel guilty for a plate of salsa fries. Mmmmmm. Salsa fries…..

  17. THANK YOU. For the love of aaaaaaaaraghhhhhhhleavemethefuckaloneaboutyourethicaleatingchoicesandhowishouldeatcarbsjustshuttheFUCKup! already, THANK YOU.

    I eat for my body. I know how it responds to food, I know how it feels, shits, and reacts better than anyone after I eat (or do not eat) certain things. And I really wish people would just get off my jock about it, already. GOD.

    I LIKE it when you rap.

  18. I don´t mind the weight loss thing in theory. In theory we´re all smart and can do it healthily and don´t mind the slow-and-steady approach. Theoretically, eating well and less and excersing more and smarter should work.

    In theory.

    But what happens is that it´s never fast enough and we get discouraged. Especially at this time of year . . . everyone starts the new year with the best of intentions and if it doesn´t look as if shittons of progrss are made within three weeks then we all bemoan how shitty we are and fall off the wagon, whatever that wagon is. I did the same thing, in that I was a perpetual dieter in high school and college. Sure, I was on the larger side of average, especially in college, but who wasn´t??? Now, I generally live by the rule that if my pants don´t fit (or are fitting snuggly), I get off my ass more. Seems to be working pretty well, methinks.

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