January around here is the Holy Month of Robindon, in which your narrator atones for the wretched excesses of the rest of the year. January is a time of fasting and purification. January is, in short, my diet month, my season of, ahem, holy fat-wah.
Of course, I'm generally on or off some diet or another for the rest of the year, too. The difference is, in December I might say, but it's Christmas, and break my diet for chocolate. In August I might say, but it's my birthday, and break my diet for beer. And during most seasons I'm prone to whining, "But I experienced a (a) setback (b) triumph (c) hangnail," any of which might call for some special little something to eat or drink, or both. In January, I don't make that kind of dispensation. In January, I don't even allow for weekends. In January, I take no prisoners. In January, I mean it.
People ask me why I bother. Hey stoopid, people say, you do this January after January and now after some 20 or 30 of them you're still no stick figure. Why don't you stop wasting your time?
The answer is that things would be much worse if I stopped! Weight is a relative thing. It's not a matter of Audrey Hepburn at one extreme and moving into orbit at the other, but a scale of various me-magnitudes from almost acceptable to completely unthinkable, and as represented by the progression of various-sized blue jeans in my chest of drawers.
In 2016 I conclusively proved the value of the January diet by not doing it. Last winter was a time of tragedy and I don't blame myself for wallowing in red wine and sour cream. But getting weighed at the doctor's office this summer after six months of wallowing was enough to give a girl a heart attack. After that, I dieted all fall just to get back into last winter's fat jeans.
Now I've had a nice break for Christmas and here we are at January again! I don't mind, really. I'm resigned to my fate, hell, almost looking forward to it. I'm in the mood. Braing it on! Let's get R done! (And get R over with!)
Does anybody else out there feel the same way? Am I all alone on my January diet, or does anybody else's list of New Year's resolutions include losing weight?
I don't ask that anybody be on the same diet I am. There are a million diets and a million approaches to weight loss. The unifying theme is that whatever plan you're on, you have to be serious about it, maybe even a little insane. Like if it's low-carb you would rather blow up a Sara Lee factory than eat a molecule of bread, if it's vegan you find yourself putting A-1 sauce on lumps of high-gluten dough sliced to resemble roast beef. I've had both kinds of January.
But the other unifying theme is that it helps to have a support group. Support groups keep a person on target but stop her from going quite as nuts. (Like I just realized I hate admitting that about the A-1 sauce, and probably wouldn't have done it at all if I'd had anybody to talk me out of it.)
My idea was to share each week in January some truism or some experience or some hint or something about the ongoing Holy Fat-wah here in The Planet. (BTW, why the hell would a girl name her newspaper that when her own eternal struggle has been not to be declared a planet? I'm afraid I no longer remember. It's been a rough year.)
Anyway! If somebody else has something to contribute--again, it can be a story, a piece of advice, encouragement, even a recipe--I'd love to publish it. Please send it to email@example.com, and I'll put it in this regular feature, The Fat-Wah Is Raging, on Mondays.
I'll start: This fall, when I had just started dieting again, I came out of the library barely ahead of a stampeding herd of vegans.
They had just been released from watching a film about plant-based cuisine. I knew about the film because I had posted a notice about it in this newspaper. Actually, I had wanted to see the film myself but there was some other meeting in the library that day I'd had to attend.
Anyway, as the crowd came spewing out of the library, they all had their pale, thin hands full of literature and they looked het-up. They'd been in there getting fired up about meat-free living and they wanted to proselytize. As I commenced driving away, one of them spotted me, broke from the crowd, loped up to my car and gestured insistently until I rolled down my window.
She was a woman, tall and blonde, I think, but her hair was covered up with some kind of kerchief, in keeping with her very plain clothes which were in the style of a nun's. She leaned in and gave me the good news: "If you switch to a plant-based diet, you can lose that weight easily and naturally!"
You get me? I'm just minding my own business, driving my car, and this perfect stranger thinks she has the right to lecture me about diet because, the implication is, I'm too fat?
I wasn't interested in her message. I've tried veganism, not as a lifestyle choice but as a weight loss method. (Remember the faux-roast I was telling you about above?) It worked fine, except for, not to put too fine a point on it,
F A R T S!
Well, that was a little crude but we are not talking a little ladylike flatulence here. We are talking about jet propulsion. After a few days of beans and grains, I always felt like that little shred of rubber being hurled around the room when an overfilled balloon gets away before you can tie it off, or a rocket blasting off toward the moon.
And that's not even mentioning the week 2 or 3 phenomenon of fantasizing about wrestling some large mammal to the ground, slitting its throat and drinking its blood. I'm just not cut out for veganism, I expect. I enjoy learning vegan recipes and a couple have become part of my repertoire, but in general the style of dieting I do best with is the good old-fashioned chicken-breast-and-mixed-greens sort of thing.
But that's not the point. Let's go back to the library parking lot, please, so I can explain what the point in fact is.
As my nunnish assailant leaned into my window, she noticed I was chewing an apple. I'd had it in my purse and had pounced on it after my own long meeting at the library had left me perishing with hunger. "Oh, that's good," she said. "You're making a great start, eating an apple instead of junk food. Here, let me give you some pamphlets that will show you how to keep up the good work."
I killed her and ate her raw in the parking lot, with A-1.
Not really! But if I had, she'd have had it coming. Not content with accosting a perfect stranger and telling me how to eat, she goes on to patronize me about my god damned apple? Hanging's too good for her! Which sounds mean, but how'd she have felt if I'd come up to her, made her roll her window down and forced fashion pointers on her, on the basis of that ugly-ass dress?
Upon reflection, I realize I've been guilty of more or less the same crime, if not in word or deed, at least in thought. At the grocery store I stand watching people pay for their food, especially the ones who roll around the store on those little golf cart things because they're too fat to walk, and I eye their cartfuls of processed foods with open contempt. So I'm not without sin here though I must say I've never followed them out to the parking lot and made them roll down their freakin' window.
Anyway as a reminder for those tempted to share patronize fat people: Don't!
For one thing, you really can't tell a book by its cover. I was going through a bag of potatoes one day when I had the epiphany there are as many body shapes for people as there are for potatoes. Mine just looks more like a potato than other people's. I think it was designed to plow fields without benefit of mules and instead I keep it working at a desk all the time, and that's why I struggle with my weight. But for Sister Maria's information, I'm an organic gardener whose favorite food is salad and I'm famous for my olive oil-lemon vinaigrette. I've read books and books about nutrition, love to hike and can't go to sleep at night unless I've had enough exercise. I just put on weight when I look at food, that's all.
Meanwhile, once I worked at a place where one of my co-workers was so pitifully thin that I waited patiently for someone to tell me the sad story of her anorexia. Nobody ever did. Instead, she got assigned to give me some sort of training or help me with some project, and while she did that she kept offering me Pop Tarts or marshmallow bars she kept stashed in her desk drawer. She snacked all day long, loved to make elaborate desserts and took long lunch hours when she had a hankering for Swedish meatballs from a place down the road. She just had a good metabolism. Life is unfair!
The other reason you shouldn't patronize fat people is IT'S RUDE!
If you feel the need to improve somebody, why not take a long, hard look at yourself and figure out some way to gild that particular lily? Like maybe learning to MIND YOUR OWN BIDNIZ?
So a reminder: Giving a dieter support, when she is soliciting it, is one thing; patronizing somebody on the grounds that they are fatter than you are is quite another.
And for God's sake don't even think about if they're holding a bottle of A-1!