We’ve got to lose ten pounds. It’s not a big deal. That’s what happens to happy couples: we fall in love, we eat our feelings, and we have sex with the lights off. We eat low-fat ice cream for a week before switching back to full-fat Ben & Jerry’s because they don’t make low-fat Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.
I know I used to have will power. I used to be a lean, trim, enviable size four. I used to skip breakfast and dessert.
We decided to lose weight together. We do everything together; why not get in shape as a couple?
He convinced me to join the gym. I hated the idea of working out in public. I didn’t want people to watch my boobs heave up and down. I wasn’t sure where to keep my hands on the machines. Where would I pick sweaty wedgies? Would people judge me if I wore mascara? What if I got lost? But he talked me into it. He said he would go with me, we would do it together, and I would lose weight easily.
It took me 26 years to join one, unless you count the few months I spent at the age of six waiting in the playroom at the local All Sport Fitness while my mom did Jazzercise with an oversized neon ball.
We joined in November as a proactive start to losing the holiday weight. I assumed three evenings on an elliptical machine would tighten my butt and encourage me to eat less carbs. I also assumed I would eventually lose ten pounds. No, that’s a lie. I assumed ten pounds would melt right off me. I thought my love handles would dissolve into a size four and my stomach would flatten to my abs of yesteryear.
It was just as bad as I had suspected. I looked like a moron on the machines. I slipped off the elliptical and my shoelace got caught in the pedals. I wasn’t coordinated enough to drink water and jog at the same time, so I constantly stopped and started. I feared disobeying the laws of gym etiquette and gave up machines after only fifteen minutes into a workout. Mascara dribbled down my cheeks. I grew distracted easily, and my eyes would wander around the machines, realized I was the heaviest girl in the room. I felt crushed.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, walked around like a stud. It was his first time at this gym too, but he instinctively knew where to find the clean towels. He got into the zone and waved me on after our agree-upon forty-five minute interval was up. He chugged down water and splashed a bit on his forehead, wiping the excess off with a towel and a smile. I watched him wistfully until I tripped up on the elliptical and smacked my chin on the handlebar.
After a few months of torture, I stopped going. It was around late January, just in time for the flood of weight loss resolutes to lose interest. I trusted no one would miss me.
Clearly, the gym was never going to solve my problem. I’ve heard stories about people becoming addicted to working out and making it a happy, regular part of their lives. This wasn’t the case with me. The more I went, the more I resented my boyfriend for convincing me to join.
Recently, I decided to go back to the one true weight-loss tool I know will work: the painful, calorie-restrictive diet. Ah, my old tried and true friend! Just a little bit of will power and I’ll be on my way to my old size four without any blood, sweat or tears. Lumpy one-piece bathing suit season is around the corner. It’s time to get cracking.
I run the kitchen in my household, and if I’m going to diet I’m going to take my boyfriend with me on the ride. I stocked up on low-fat yogurt, steamed vegetable medleys and Lean Cuisines. I’ve noticed my boyfriend has been reticent. He has insisted he will continue to eat normally and just cut down his portions. He doesn’t think he needs to diet. He has been avoiding the D-word.
Dieting, I realize, is my weight loss comfort zone. Billions of advertising dollars have been spent convincing women that frozen diet food, low-fat protein bars and high-fiber cereal are crucial for slimming down. Meanwhile, my boyfriend prefers the machismo image of a burly jock sweating under a bunch of weights. It’s not considered masculine to diet — I can just imagine my boyfriend’s immature coworkers snickering at him if he brought in my Lean Cuisine and pink fat-free yogurt to lunch. He’d rather blow out his calf muscles at the gym.
So much for losing weight together. He can have the gym and I’ll go back to my steamed veggie plates.
Orson Welles said we all die alone. I guess we all diet alone, too.