Yeah, yeah, I know....it is pretty effing pitiful when a person gets to the point where there is so little going on in a person's life that a new way of eating takes over a person's entire being. Well, that person is THIS person but I don't need your stinking pity.......I assure you that it ain't just because I am too old and feeble to have anything more interesting to obsess over that I am going bonkers over this amazing FastDiet way of eating. It is my latest Miracle.
Unless you have lived a life of unending deprivation fearing every morsel you put into your mouth, (except lettuce) , are engaged in a constant, exhausting wrestling match with your baser self's perpetual cravings and know the anguish of never having a moment's peace or relief from pangs run wild and are doomed to go unsatisfied forever you cannot begin to understand my current near bliss. Like an exhausted swimmer who has been fighting the undertow trying to reach the shore and safety for her entire lifetime and who finally manages, with the last ounce of strength, to drag herself into the shallows, out of reach of the deadly grasp of the current, I am lying gasping on the sand slowly being restored by the hope of never having to undergo that nightmarish struggle and endless agony again.
My earliest memory was of food and it is a monumental one and an explanation of the blight I have suffered under for 86 years. It is as clear to me now as it was all those many years ago ......a moment of total clarity then and now. I believe I was about a year old....maybe less. I was lying in a tiny, brightly striped canvas beach chair in the kitchen, filled with my normal unease, fear and general sense of dread which was my way of life. It stemmed from the fact that at any moment my father might appear and who knew what that might portend. My mother was busy with some task at the stove behind me and then she placed into my little hands a glorious bottle which I recognized as being the source of a heavenly substance. I drank eagerly and a warm glow of peace and bliss spread through my body and calmed my mind and soul. I was in heaven in the arms of angels and I was being filled with ambrosia. For this moment I was safe, happy and fulfilled. Needless to say, I lived for these moments and the magic never ceased until I was old enough to somehow understand that the sacred substances that I put into my mouth and which made life bearable had a terrible price.....they ended up making me FAT.
That old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" is a crock of shit. Names hurt like hell. Pudge, Fatso, Baby Elephant, Big Fat Cow all pierced me to the quick, drew invisible blood and created wounds some of which took half a lifetime to heal. Even before I ever heard of the word Diet, I was already suffering conflict with every crumb that I put in my mouth. Food was not only a delicious pleasure but was my friend, comfort, sedative and pain killer and yet I knew that each crumb would only end up making me pudgier, fatter, clumsier, uglier of form and generally more despicable. Not a happy predicament. My only salvation was also my enemy.
And even after discovering Diet and Exersize at age 11 and losing 35 or 40 lbs. life was just one long, unending struggle, either of constant deprivation or failure to maintain my diet and the hard won losses.....a wretched burden of despair, defeat and guilt. I gained and lost the same 10 - 40 lbs. periodically for the next 60 years and each time it became harder to lose an ounce until the process just stopped working altogether. Let's see now.....I figure I must have easily lost and regained more than 700 lbs during my lifetime.. Pretty damned impressive but all for naught. Sob.
During most of my young and middle years I did manage to maintain an acceptable weight........between smoking and dieting when necessary I kept an uneasy truce with the problem. Then I went thru menopause and quit smoking at the same time and immediately gained the 40 lbs I had been so laboriously holding at bay for most of my life. When I reached the estimable age of 80 I just gave up the useless struggle and decided to eat whatever I wanted for whatever years were left to me and to just accept waddling as a means of locomotion. Sadly, a broken hip and worn out knee joints just made everything more and more difficult, but I did not see that I had much choice. Dieting did not work and I could no longer even exercise on the treadmill or stairclimber......I could just about make it tottering to the potty and back a few hundred times a day (yes, that has become my my exercise.) Fortunately, each time I have reached the top weight my body had decided it wanted to be, I did not gain any more but I was still doomed to drag around, carry, raise and lower and live with that damned 40 lbs. and the older I have gotten the harder it has become. The operative word has been "hopeless".
And then, suddenly, an amazing ray of hope appeared. I read about the FastDiet or the 5:2 Diet in which you eat whatever you want for 5 days of the week and do a modified fast of 500 healthy calories on the other 2 days (not consecutive) and, aside from the possibility of perhaps losing weight, I liked the premises underlying it. ( the studies show that it may not only make you lighter and healthier, but protect you from Alzheimers and dementia and increase your longevity as well) Since I had nothing to lose (except for that damned 40 lbs) I decided to try it for one week and, by all that is holy, at this moment (the beginning of week 7) I believe it may have changed my life.
To mention just a few points, I seem to no longer fear food. I no longer struggle against monstrous cravings. (I really never experienced hunger.....just cravings). Food, when I do eat it, actually tastes better. I have little to no trouble with hunger on my partial fast days or any physical discomfort. I actually feel energized and at peace with what I am doing and it is an unbelievably lovely feeling. Since I am not distracted by my food insanity, the fast days have enabled me to peer into dark corners of myself and see clearly the process which has cursed my life and, in seeing it I seem to be able to change it. Holy Moly, as they say. I never expected to be able to solve this particular part of what I call my madness. I still am not over the surprise and delight of it and, though of course I know too well that this may all be a dream and I may revert tomorrow to where I was, even this brief respite has been a true blessing and a fascinating experience. After repeating the same words to myself during my whole life....Give up the food crutch, Face the fear, Accept Death from starvation, etc. etc. etc I seem to have finally been able to not just talk it but DO it and after taking that deep breath and stepping off the cliff I found I did not fall and crash. The edge of the cliff was an illusion to trick me into staying in the same old comfortable/uncomfortable place. Like all the other difficult lessons I have been able to learn, this is one more case where intellectually knowing the solution and being able to incorporate it and put it in to practice are tantalizingly close yet far apart.
Just shows to go, folks....apparently we are never to old to learn.....sigh...oy vey, what next?
I want a sabbatical first.
The New Yorker covers: August 18, 1975
13 hours ago