July 13, 2000
Drinking My Lunch


Kerry's chocolate cake is still sitting in the Totem Pole refrigerator this morning.

Tuesday was her last day with the company, but the leftover goodies from her farewell party remain. I come face-to-face with temptation -- namely, a huge gooey quarter-sheet of three-layer, chocolate-and-raspberry-cream cake, still in the Neldam's box -- every time I open the fridge.

It. does. not. bother. me.

I simply grab my can of Slim Fast and my little Tupperware container of fresh fruit ... run back to my Isolation Booth ... shut the door ... and drink my lunch.

(So to speak.)

And then I remind myself of all the reasons why I'm finally ready to move beyond the "thinking about planning to begin considering to contemplate deciding to try and possibly lose some weight" phase ... and I remember all of the reasons why it's probably going to work this time. As opposed to the previous 43,897,621 times it didn't work.

The last time I mounted a serious weight loss campaign was when I was getting ready to sneak off to the Caribbean with the online boyfriend, four summers ago.

We started planning the trip a full two or three months in advance. Plenty of time for me to shop for sandals and suntan lotion.  Plenty of time to drag the suitcase down from the attic.  Plenty of time to convince my husband that I was going on vacation with "a group of online friends" (and to convince myself that what I was doing was "karmically OK").

And plenty of time to COMPLETELY FREAK OUT every time I contemplated *me* on a Caribbean beach in a swimsuit.

I immediately went on the world's stoopidest crash diet. Please don't try this at home.

Breakfast: Two scrambled egg-whites with a dollop of salsa on top, washed down with several metric gallons of black coffee.

Mid-Morning Snack: Two pseudoephedrine hydrochloride tablets. (Cheaper than Dexatrim, and it didn't make me feel as spacey.)

Lunch: One SlimFast strawberry "shake," whipped up in the blender with crushed ice and half a banana.

Dinner: One and a half bottles of Almaden Mountain Chablis, ten Salem Slim Lights and a bag of microwave popcorn (plain/no butter).

Bedtime Snack: Three 2 mg. tablets of loperamide hydrochloride. Just in case.

Yes, I lost weight on this completely dysfunctional "eating plan." "Only fat contains more calories per gram than alcohol," according to the Alcoholics Victorious website. "As a result, while drinking, addicts experience a sense of fullness having eaten very little or nothing."

I wasn't exactly thin by the time I got off that airplane in November. But I'd lost a couple of dress sizes. I certainly felt thinner, anyway. And I pretty much managed to keep the weight off until the following spring, when the affair ended and I sank into my black depression and I stopped giving a crap what I looked like for a long time.

Once I made the decision to get sober, a couple of summers later, I consciously decided not to worry about my weight for awhile. I gave myself permission to get well first.  David supported me in this ... not only while we were still just two online pals, reinforcing each other's recovery efforts from 600 miles away, but also after we'd fallen in love and I'd moved to California and he got to see me naked on a daily basis.

"Don't even think about trying to lose weight right now," he advised.

During the earliest days of recovery -- when I was still in Oregon  -- he gave me long lists of stuff to buy at the grocery store: oranges, wheat bread, salad, gallons of cranberry juice. "You're going to crave sugar," he warned me, and he was right. 

I drank so much cranberry juice, you could have eaten off my urinary tract. 

He explained that it was more important that I concentrate on staying sober, and eating right, and beginning to repair the damage from twenty-five years of alcohol abuse. "Your body is already going through the shock of being deprived of all those alcohol calories," he said. Dieting right then would have been a disaster. (Besides. I was already breaking every other rule of early recovery: starting a new relationship, moving from one state to another, changing jobs, eschewing a formal 12-step program.) "There will be plenty of time to lose weight when you've been sober for a while," he said.

Once I set up housekeeping with him in California, his approach became more direct. He has spent the past year-and-a-half gently weaning me from junk food ... teaching me that vegetables don't begin life in a can ... encouraging me to get more exercise ... blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. All in a no-pressure, non-threatening, lovingly-supportive way. (Of course, he is ALSO the person who introduced me to It's-It Ice Cream Sandwiches. I'm not airbrushing that halo onto his photo just yet.)

He has his own addiction/recovery/food/weight issues. We've both put on our fair share of *relationship pounds* in the past couple of years. But we both seem to have reached the place, now, where we're ready to start doing something about it.

Our primary motivation? We didn't find each other until our forties. We figure we've got thirty or forty years together, tops.

If we're lucky. And careful.

So why am I so sure it's going to work this time?

Besides the fact that I'm not going to be supplementing the fruit and Slim Fast and exercise and other healthy crap with a box of Mountain Chablis every night, that is?

(And besides the fact that I wake up next to the world's greatest built-in support system, every morning?)

Because I'm not on a diet this time.

I'm going to start paying more attention to what -- and when, and where, and how much -- I eat. I'm going to order the salad a little more often. I'm going to learn to like frozen yogurt. I'm going to choose either the potstickers or the spring rolls ... but not both. I'm going to keep force-feeding myself buckets of water, even if it means I spend 84.5% of my time in the bathroom. I'm going to forego the lemon meringue pie once in a while. I'm going to buy a decent pair of walking shoes. I'm going to get up off my butt and walk away from the computer occasionally.

(I'm NOT going to sneak into the Totem Pole kitchen, slice off a slab of Kerry's farewell cake, stuff it into my jacket pocket, sneak it back to my little Isolation Booth and insert it into my face in four bites ... crouched on the floor beneath my desk, where nobody can see me.)

But I'm not on a diet.

I'm not even all that serious about the Slim Fast. It's simply a convenient -- and familiar -- way to jumpstart the process.

The important thing here is that I believe I'm losing weight for the right reasons this time.

Or actually ... I'm NOT doing it for the WRONG reasons this time. If that makes sense.

I'm not doing it to bag a man. I'm not doing it to keep a man. I'm not being shamed into doing it. I'm not doing it to shame anyone else. I'm not being nagged, or coerced, or bullied, or paid to lose weight.

And I'm not trying to squeeze into a Prom dress before Saturday night ... or into a bathing suit before I get off an airplane in the Caribbean. 

(Although I'm not above admitting that I wouldn't mind looking slightly less *dirigible-like* for my wedding photos, this next time around. But that's another story for another day.)

Oh, and don't worry: I'm not planning to turn this website into *FootNotes: An Ongoing Tale of Romance, Recovery, Uncomfortable Shoes And Secra's Stoopid DIET.*  Lots of other journalers are already doing that ... chronicling the minutiae of their weight loss efforts, I mean ... some of them in more interesting and amusing fashion than others. I'll post an update once in a while, of course ... just like I do the occasional progress reports on the St. John's Wort, and news about the Tots, and how the recovery is coming along, and what the Other 50% of the Population is up to, and reports on all of the Totem Pole nonsense. (I like to rotate *my* minutiae.) But otherwise I don't plan to subject you to thrilling daily updates all about how I resisted those last four broken M&M's in the bottom of my purse.

Or at least I'll try not to.

(I may, however, subject you to more information than is strictly necessary about the possible upcoming breast reduction surgery. I have my first surgical consultation next Tuesday. David is coming with me. Polaroids to follow.)

In the meantime, let's all just cross our fingers and hope that nobody else quits the Totem Pole Company for a little while. 

The leftover chocolate cake plays havoc with my self-control.

throw a rock