• Tue, May 17 2011

Heart Monitor: My Relationship Hates My Diet

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.

It’s hell.

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.

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  • Jamie Peck

    I’m not judging you, I’m just a little concerned. Soup and low fat yogurt are not lunch, and even mild self mutilation is a huge red flag in terms of your mental well being. Be careful and take care of yourself, lady.

  • Corporate Tool

    Not to sound like a spam-bot, but I’d suggest Weight Watchers. I managed to lose the 15 lbs of what I like to call “happiness weight” post-marriage, and didn’t feel hungry/cranky/deprived. It’s still an adjustment, but much more liveable.

  • Cheryl

    To be honest with you… Aand I’m sure you have heard this before… But you really can’t lose weight and have the perfect body without doing at least a little bit of exercise.

    Part of the reason your in such a bad mood is because your depriving yourself of all the things your used to indulging in, mixed with feeling like you aren’t reaching your desired results.

    The thing about working out and doing a bit of exercise is, not only will it help you tone your body and help get rid of those dreaded muffin tops. Exercise also produces endorphins which will automatically help put you in a better mood.

    When you combine even 30 minutes of exercise with dieting, you definitely see the results faster and feel better about yourself.

    Going to the gym isn’t for everyone, but even just doing a few workouts at home such as: sit ups, bicycles, planks, lunges, squats etc. will definitely help you to see an improvement.

  • Eileen

    I, on the other hand, AM judging you because your “diet” sounds suspiciously like mine from back when I had anorexia. I know you hate exercise and want to be thin, but this diet sounds like bad news.

  • Cara

    I sympathize with how you feel, having been a little chubby at points, but I gotta say: that sounds awful (and I think my boyfriend would dump me if I pulled that diet stuff). It sounds crazy, but since being a full time food blogger, I’ve found it easier to keep weight off…sensibly. Tips here: http://bit.ly/kvWV8v

  • Brandy Alexander

    Don’t worry, ladies. I’ve been picking at my cuticles for years — it’s a nervous habit that runs in my family. And as for the diet … it’s the worst. But it works! Especially if I throw in some crunches and take less cabs! Yes, I will yo-yo back up in a few weeks, but isn’t that the point of a terrible crash diet? Isn’t it? Am I right? Hellooo?

  • matbo

    Seriously , exercise does not have to be horrible, public or degrading. Ride your bike for 30 minutes a day, go for a walk, even just 15 minutes here and there – bring your boyfriend make it fun!
    And eat healthy! Putting your body in starvation-mode does the exact oposite, it makes your body hold onto your fat, so eat healthy, exercise moderately and I think you’ll find it comes off maybe not faster, but less painfully.

  • ME

    Wow a woman dieting, having PMS and obsessing about food, how she looks, her ex-boyfriend. It’s all so cutting edge.

    Your boyfriend should leave you and you should BOTH get into therapy very very quickly.

    You have more problems than your “diet”.

  • Dove

    Funny, my diet hates my relationship.

    I used to do this when I was single (andyeah, it’s basically anorexia-lite) and my husband won’t let me now, because he is health-conscious and doesn’t care for anorexia-lite. But even when I just, say, cut out dessert, or processed sugar for a while (which I HIGHLY recommend as an effective weight loss technique) he inevitably pressures me to go for ice cream, or bake some cookies, or eat something else I’ve been spending all of my waking energy trying to pretend doesn’t exist.

    I’ve finally decided that this just means he TRULY doesn’t care that I’ve gained 15lbs so, whatever.

  • Eileen

    I just think that it’s really irresponsible to suggest that it’s at all okay to do this. If you must do a “terrible crash diet,” fine, but don’t glamorize it – which, frankly, you are doing, just by implying that it works and so it’s okay. That’s all anyone with an eating disorder needs to hear – that starving yourself (excuse me “fasting”) is socially acceptable. So, again, if you must, then you must, but keep it to yourself.

  • Brandy Alexander

    Hi everyone. I’d like to make it clear that this was never intended to be advice, and I by NO MEANS endorse my crappy, short-lived yo-yo diet. It’s pretty awful!

    I do appreciate the concerns about anorexia, but rest assured, I have lovely curves—I just don’t like when my lovely curves turn into rolls.

    This column was intended to be a silly slice-of-life look at my stupid behavior, which many irrational women experience when they are in a rush to lose weight quickly. Sincere apologies to those are offended by my silly behavior.

    Love and other indoor sports,
    Brandy Alexander

    • Dove

      I don’t really know what to say, just wanted to give you a little support. As I mentioned below, I used to do basically this exact thing until I started living with someone who pays attention to what I eat.

      I’ve had a lifelong struggle with eating disorders which is why the hubs isn’t impressed with such strict diets. I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal (unhealthy and impractical, but not life-threatening)if you haven’t had E.D. issues, but that’s the trouble with discussing these things in a public forum, everyone takes these things differently.

      *getting a little backup from someone who’s suffered from E.D. probably isn’t that helpful… sorry*

  • Kat

    If you want to lose weight exercise balance: eat wholesome not so processed foods, work out 3 times a week, and drink tons of water. And don’t deprive yourself; have little treats every now and then. Moderation is key. This works for me and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on foods I love and I’m also in good shape.

  • Cara

    Wow! I feel like I could have written this article. My boyfriend is a marine, so he is constantly exercising with his crew. I, on the other hand, stick to 10 Minute Pilates DVDs. I used to have a pretty cute figure, but since my boyfriend and I moved in together, I have gained A LOT of weight. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin, so I’m going to try Weight Watchers.

  • Lindsay Cross

    That diet sounds like it sucks a whole lot! It also doesn’t sound that different from half the girls I knew in college. It’s possible that some of these women had serious issues. Obviously I hope not. But I don’t think one stupid diet, even if we know its unhealthy, makes an eating disorder. Eating disorders are extremely serious issues, they are also personal ones, and not something that can be diagnosed in 1000 words.

    I don’t think Brandy is advocating her approach. She very bluntly says that its hell, doesn’t work well and doesn’t last. She’s admitting that she’s making a dumb decision. I’m not sure we need to call her terrible for admitting to a bad choice.

    And for the record, I constantly over-tweaze when I’m stressed. My therapist said that lots of “picking” is a common response to stress or to feeling a lack of control. As long as it doesn’t become compulsive or extreme, it’s normally not a huge issue.

  • ginger

    honestly, i think everyone here is over-reacting. i find myself currently in this situation, and it’s REALLY hard to get through. “happiness” weight or “stress” weight, it doesn’t matter. She’s not trying to endorse anorexia or eating disorders, she’s just honest and brave enough to talk about what she’s been going through. Dieting is hard when you love food, but if you are sensible about it, it’s safe and healthy. Obviously, I’m sure most of us have toyed with starvation mode, but don’t rush to judge her and say she’s pro-rexic!
    I loved this article and really related.

  • jess

    Hey girl…I have to tell you. If you love food and having fun you can still diet and have a life. You don’t need to challenge yourself into fainting by eating splenda and broth for days on end. You like Saveur? And real food? Read Food Matters by Mark Bittman. Eat real food, mostly plants. Less meat and dairy and exercise and I’m telling you your body and skin will look good. OR use an app. I’m currently using Lose It! You punch in what you want to lose and at what pace and it gives you a daily allowance of calories. I need to whittle off the 15 lbs I have put on since I was at my goal weight. I promise you, I’m not preaching I just know what it takes. I used to be 90 lbs. over weight and lost it over the course of three years (weight watchers, yoga). I’ve maintained for several years, but have also felt my weight creeping back up after moving in with my boyfriend (what are they trying to make us fat? I think it’s the lack of possibility that you might get naked with a stranger that causes this weight gain). Anyways…keep in mind that the number on the scale isn’t going to fulfill you. Fun life experiences and feeling and looking good, having lots of energy- that will. It will make you look good and you won’t be cranky!