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This Year, It’s Gonna Be Different

Perhaps the only joy in making new year’s resolutions is the variety of ice cream flavors it takes to break them.

Every January, I make a resolution to eat healthy and lose weight. And every March, there I am again watching Golden Girls at 4 a.m., eating mayonnaise with a soup spoon. But this year, it’s going to be different. I’m tired of fads and quick-fix solutions. I’m tired of scales. I’m tired of sticking my finger down my throat. Mostly, I’m tired of dieting—the obsession, the disappointment, the restraining orders, the tapeworms. This is no way to live. The good news is: I don’t have to. Fat won’t beat me this time, and below you’ll find my foolproof plan to make 2004 the year I make thinner… a winner!

1. No fad diets.

How many of you have tried the celebrated Atkins diet, only to find yourself on the toilet for two days, snacking on a Yard-o-Beef? Sure, you’ll lose weight—as soon as your lower intestine plops into the tank. Lots of people swear by Atkins, but something’s plain wrong about a diet that promotes red beef over vegetables, V-8 over hefeweizen. Some of you may be thinking: What about that hot bestseller, The South Beach Diet? With its balance of low carbs and good fats, the diet is effective and responsible. But have you ever actually been to Florida? You don’t want to look like those people.

2. ‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.’

This is what I remember each time I find myself crouched by the freezer at midnight, cradling a gallon of Rocky Road. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Thin feels better than gooey chocolate and marshmallow in my mouth. Thin feels better than my tongue under a blanket of fried pork chops smothered in gravy. But wait a minute. Plush red velvet feels better than thin. And cheddar cheese tastes better than plush red velvet. So what does thin minus plush red velvet plus cheddar cheese equal? Wait, I know this one: Homemade macaroni and cheese!

3. Stay positive.

Dieting is so tough, it’s critical to keep a good attitude. Whenever I feel like binge eating, immediately I do something else; I’ll see a movie or go shopping at the mall. I love the colors and the lush fabrics and the soothing music of the mall—it takes my mind off things. Just yesterday, I went with my boyfriend to the mall. We weren’t in Foley’s for 30 minutes before I had an armload of adorable clothes at slashed prices: flirty pink skirts and sleek, retro tops, and flared jeans. Of course, none of them fit. And while I spent 15 minutes trying to get out of a size six tank dress without ripping it, my beanpole boyfriend found 500 things that were ‘great, but too big.’ The bastard. And when I came out from the dressing room, he was all, ‘What’s wrong? Didn’t any of those fit?’ And I’m like, ‘Did you just call me fat?’ And he’s like, ‘No, baby, no. Big is beautiful.’ And I’m like, ‘Big? I wore a size six all through high school, okay? This dress looked like it ran large.’ And he’s all, ‘Baby, put down the fire extinguisher. That belongs to the store. You’re gonna get arrested again.’ And I’m like, ‘Fuck this. I’m going to Orange Julius, you skinny son of a bitch.’

4. Identify stress factors that lead to binge eating.

For instance: Mall. Boyfriend. Restraining order.

5. Avoid pictures.

For some reason, every time someone takes a picture of me, I look kind of bloated and sweaty. But when I look in the mirror, I’m nothing but a stone-cold fox. Isn’t that weird?

6. Keep careful food journal, re: What I Wanted/What I Ate.

Breakfast. What I wanted: pancakes with hot syrup. What I ate: cottage cheese, one slice tomato.

Snack. What I wanted: pancakes with hot syrup, smothered in melted butter, with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and sizzling hot bacon. What I ate: string cheese.

Lunch. What I wanted: club sandwich. What I ate: pancakes with hot syrup and peanut butter, three cold hot dogs, dipped in ranch dressing.

Snack. What I wanted: one chocolate-chip cookie. What I ate: 10 chocolate-chip cookies.

Dinner. What I wanted: grilled chicken caesar. What I ate: one package raw bacon.

Snack. What I wanted: sweet deliverance. What I drank: Pinot Grigio.

7. Stay away from diet saboteurs.

This may come as a shock, but some people want to ruin your diet. They want to keep you fat. They want you to fail. In general, this comes from their own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. Maybe they’re your mother, or your childhood friend. Maybe they’re so conditioned to thinking of you as fat—practically relying on your fatness—that it’s terrifying to think you might lose weight and look better than them. Jesus, nobody wants to be the fattest person in the room. Especially since you’ve been the chubbier one since we were little kids, Mandy, and so I’m not used to seeing you this way, parading around in hussy clothes and rubbing your ass cleavage in my boyfriend’s face. Christ, eat a sandwich already.

8. Drink eight glasses of water a day.

You will see instant results. A page from my own diet journal: Fell off barstool. Offered to make visiting 14-year-old cousin ‘a man.’ Woke up naked in the bathtub, holding a corndog. Wait a minute.

9. Increase metabolism.

This is nothing but old-fashioned good sense. Walk for 30 minutes a day. And remember, cigarettes help keep the weight off.

10. Don’t go hungry.

Starvation diets are a thing of the past. In this post-Sept. 11 world, we know it’s not how much you eat, it’s what you stick in your mouth. Say you’re driving to work, and you’re starving. Maybe you’re sick, or you’re shaking with DTs. At any rate, you need food. Are you going to deny yourself? Are you going to start off your day with this deprivation, this barbaric cruelty? No way. Your body is telling you something. Listen to it. Can’t you hear? Ask yourself, then, ‘What do I want right now? What would make my body the happiest?’ And when your body responds, ‘An ultimate cheeseburger and curly fries, with a sideorder of barbecue sauce,’ respect that. Respect your body. Respect yourself. Even if work starts at 9:30 a.m., and Jack in the Box doesn’t start serving lunch till 11—the body is a temple. Call in sick. Take the food home and eat in the middle of your bed while watching soap operas. But don’t forget: There’s some ranch dressing in the fridge.

biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Sarah Hepola is the Life editor at Salon. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Nerve, and on NPR. She lives in Texas with a sweet orange cat who is not fat, he’s just big-boned. If you just read her story about Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she’d like to point that it is fiction. More by Sarah Hepola