The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

Everything you need to know about getting it wrong.

Spinach and Scales



It isn’t especially unique to fail at dieting or exercise. Pretty much everyone I have ever known has tried one or the other. Most of them have given up or given in to cravings and their own basic laziness. A  few have managed, after several attempts, to maintain healthy eating and exercise lifestyles. I am not one of those few. It’s hard. Life gets in the way. Bacon gets in the way.

I hate scales. I refuse to get on the one at the doctor’s office. It lies. There is one scale I will get on and that’s the one I have at home. The floors in my apartment are decidedly not level. If I move my scale from place to place I can get it to produce results that fluctuate up to almost 10 pounds, depending on which room, and what section of the floor I place it on. Every few days I bring it down off the shelf to see if I have magically lost 70lbs overnight and my body just hasn’t deflated yet. I carry the scale from room to room and spot to spot until I get a reading I can live with for the next few days. Today (Friday), according to the kitchen tile directly in front of my refrigerator, I am 7 pounds lighter than I was on Wednesday per the corner of the bathroom floor. Fantastic! Now all I need to do is find the spot in my apartment where my pants agree with my scale. That part might be a bit trickier. Will the pants just go back to fighting to contain my ass the minute I step out of the skinny zone?

I have tried all kinds of diets and I have even had long-term, monogamous relationships with several gyms over the years. Right now, like in my romantic life, I do not have any aerobically inclined intimate relationships. I haven’t had so much as a short term fling in almost a year. I haven’t seen my sneakers in months. They probably went out for a run and just kept going. No point in returning home just to hang out in the back of my closet.

I tried Weight Watchers a few years back. I actually lost a great deal of weight. I was in an exclusive relationship with the local YMCA as well and we were all quite happy together. Then I went out on my own as an attorney and my youngest son started high school in a different town. The YMCA and Weight Watchers meetings were not local to my life any longer and, slowly but surely, one at a time, my old friends, sizes 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 came back from their extended vacations. It didn’t help that my husband (who had done WW as well and had his own extra-marital affair with the YMCA) was still losing weight and now had food-related OCD which made him obsess, out loud, about every last thing he ate. I think I got fat again partly in protest. (I didn’t lie when I said self-sabotage was my specialty.) 8, 10, 12 and 14 have now gone off again to some remote location but 16 has been hanging around for the last few years. She took a brief hiatus a little over a year ago when 14 came for a visit but 14 is gone again and 16 has taken up residence with me in my tiny apartment. She sits in my chair all day and eats all my food.

A few weeks ago, after waking up in the middle of the night a couple of times, suffering from food and alcohol over-consumption, I took 16 on a little trip to see my local GI. I have had digestive issues in the past and was starting to think my gallbladder, which gave up the ghost during my fling with WW and the YMCA, had returned to haunt me. The GI told me my gallbladder had moved on and no exorcism was required. Instead he suggested that I eat more frequent, smaller meals and cut down on the booze. I didn’t want to feel like I had wasted my 25 dollar co-pay on this brilliantly logical advice, so I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Not surprisingly, it has worked in helping me avoid middle-of-the-night gastrointestinal distress. It has also resulted in my having a healthier diet over all. I live alone and buying food and cooking for only one person is a nuisance. I end up either eating the same thing day after day or wasting a lot of food. Now I eat a lot more raw fruit and vegetables because they come naturally in individual serving sizes. Except spinach. Spinach comes in huge bags and gets all wilt-y and gross really quickly.

My stomach feels much better most days now and my scale, even placed in the fattest spot in my apartment, registers about 12 lbs below it’s highest previous point. My pants are starting to get on board with the program and 14 called me a couple days ago to say that she might come see me soon. 16 is a little bit disgruntled but she needs to get outside for some fresh air soon. When she goes I’m changing the locks. I may even decide it’s time to get intimate again with some weights and a treadmill.

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