After snapping at my boyfriend last week for eating the last of my low-fat blueberry yogurt, he asked me if I had PMS. I wasn’t offended — we both know that when my hormones are flaring up, I’m hyper-sensitive, cranky and tend to cry excessively.
But it wasn’t PMS. It was worse.
I had started dieting.
Now, before you start judging me for my terrible weight-loss methods, which I will outline below, let me explain my situation. After moving in with my boyfriend last year, we both put on a few pounds. I had ballooned up to fifteen pounds over the heaviest I had ever been — including the semester sophomore year when I smoked too much pot and ate my weight in feelings. I’ve been complaining about the weight all year, but haven’t managed to do much about it.
But the end of May serves as a cruel reminder that my love handles are less than lovable. It marks the beginning of swimsuit, sundress and sleeveless season. It is also wedding season, and I have two to attend over Memorial Day weekend. My ex-boyfriend from college — the one man who has ever truly broken my heart — will serve as best man at one of them. I haven’t seen him since he left me to join the Peace Corps. Four years later, he remains an Facebook friend and a silent token of my heartbroken early 20s. I’m very much in love with my live-in boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want my ex to eat his intact heart out when he sees me. My boyfriend doesn’t mind — he’s been hitting the gym to tone up for the summer.
Me, I’ve ruled out the gym and focused on cutting calories. But my diet is pretty insufferable.
First, I went on a two day “fast.” I woke up and took my regular allergy pill, together with a dose of Sudafed and a fistful of vitamins. I usually skip breakfast, so the beginning of the day was fine. I chugged cups of coffee with Splenda and hydrated with water. Around lunchtime, I took a second dose of Sudafed and kept downing water. By early afternoon, I started to feel lightheaded, so I had a low-fat yogurt. I made it through the rest of the afternoon, and by the time I was ready to leave the office for the evening, realized I had bitten off all my nails. Oh well. Sacrifices have got to be made. I allowed myself a low-calorie broth-based soup for dinner and called it a night. I repeated it the next day, allowing myself a thick creamy vegetable soup for dinner.
Fasting wasn’t a long-term plan. By day three, my stomach had shrunk and I was no longer craving king-sized bowls of pasta. I continue my morning regimen of pills, coffee and water, but allow myself a Lean Cuisine or a large bowl of soup with my low-fat yogurt. I stick to undressed salads and grilled fish and vegetables for dinner, shrinking the portions sizes and forgoing fat and carbs.
I consider myself a regular bon vivant. I love eating, drinking and storytelling. My parents own a restaurant. I have a subcription to Saveur magazine. My weeknights include wine bars, restaurant openings and copious amount of scotch. My weekends tend to revolve around lazy trips to the grocery store, Barefoot Contessa reruns and experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.
But when I’m dieting, all of that happy-go-lucky eating and drinking comes to a grinding halt. I skip happy hours, avoid the wine bars (my doctor told me one glass of wine is equal to a slice of fucking cake) and try to watch TV shows featuring skinny girls, like pretty much anything on the CW. I bite all my nails off and pick at scabs. I chew off the skin on my lower lip. I rinse with whitening mouth wash, the hydrogen peroxide burning the perimeter of my mouth, because all the coffee stains my teeth.
And I turn into an angry, lightheaded, impatient bitch. I’m constantly hungry and I still feel fat. The weight doesn’t fall off quickly anymore. In college, two days of fasting would result in a new jeans size. Now, I have to put in weeks of effort just to lose four pounds.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend sits on the couch eating king-sized bowls of pasta and, yes, the very last of my low-fat blueberry yogurt.
He’ll be sorry next week when I really do have PMS. I may even bite his head off — I’m just that hungry.