My marriage of almost six years began falling apart in the spring of 2008. My husband, the guy I married just three weeks shy of my nineteenth birthday, told me one night as we were falling asleep that he wasn’t in love with me anymore. In fact, he couldn’t really remember if he ever had been at all.
In the days that followed my at-the-time BFF encouraged me to move in with her for a week for some hard core girl bonding time, a chance for me to get back on my feet, find my confidence – my Girl Power, if you will – and return to my husband a better woman with the ability to hold her shit together long enough to discuss our deep relationship problems like a goddamn grown up.
So, I packed my bags and moved across town into her house, prepared to watch trashy TV and lounge on her massive couch under too many blankets with her prized Yorkie in my lap and eat ice cream from the carton, healing the only way I knew how. And that’s when I discovered I’d been tricked. I’d become the victim of some serious underhanded scheming. I walked into her house, scooped up her tiny dog into my arms, and wrinkled my nose. “What are you cooking?” I asked. “It smells like sadness and despair. It smells like East Germany under the Wall.”
“It’s cabbage soup,” she replied, and handed me a sheet of paper.
The Cabbage Soup Diet! Lose 10 Pounds in 7 Days!
“But I don’t like cabbage,” I said. “It tastes like the worst part of hell. You know, the part where all the lepers go?”
“This is really good, though,” she pressed. “It’s completely safe and it will make you feel way better. And we can do yoga every morning before work and go jogging when we get home!” I read over the instructions.
“Number one, I don’t run on purpose. That’s insane. If there’s nothing chasing me, there’s no reason to run. Number two, yoga and cabbage sound like an awful combination. Number three, this says I can’t drink. I’m going through the first stages of divorce and you’re telling me I can’t drink? And there are onions in it. Onions. And cooked tomatoes? Gross. There’s no way I’ll be able to stick to this. No booze, no ice cream, and a host of vegetables I don’t like floating in a spiced, watery grave and that’s all I get for a week? I came here to have indulgent girl time, not some horrible Soviet boot camp.”
The next day, horrible Soviet boot camp began. I managed to eat around the onions, the cabbage, and the stewed tomatoes (which have the exact same consistency of snot), sipping broth and eating the carrots and celery and adhering to the strict rules of the cabbage soup diet. I was overweight and depressed and now, entirely too sober, starving, and gassy. (No one really prepares you for the horrible things that come out of you while you’re on this diet. This is no way to live.) But, because I used to be pretty damn spineless, I did what I was told and stayed on the diet.
By the third day, I’d lost five pounds. I wanted to celebrate with shots of vodka, because that was a day we could have potatoes and vodka is made from potatoes, dammit. But instead I celebrated with unsweetened tea and an even bigger bowl of despair cabbage soup. By this time, the soup- which was bland and tasteless to begin with – failed to even register a reading on my taste buds and I think I accidentally ate the onions, which I’m still ashamed of to this day.
By the end of the tenth day, I’d lost the promised ten pounds. I was dying for a goddamn brownie. My pants were loose. My face looked thinner. I still had gas. What’s the point of looking thinner and hotter if you smell like cabbage farts?
As I suspected, losing ten pounds in seven days didn’t save my marriage and we finalized our divorce that December. After things were over and I settled into my new life, single for the first time since high school and able to make my own choices and face my own consequences, I stopped caring about diets. I found myself. I ate brownies when I wanted to, because I’m a fucking adult, and I can do what I want. I’ve lost a total of 35 pounds so far, by staying active and smart about what I eat. I’ll never crash diet again. Life is too short to not eat brownies. That’s why they invented corsets.