Contemporary Fiction

The aroma of puff pastry, kalamata olives, tomatoes, and feta wafts from the appetizer the waitress has just set in the middle of the table. I hear my client Cindy marvel, “I swear, this is manna made in heaven,” as she savors a bite of the Mediterranean Pinwheels she and her husband are sharing.  They’re enjoying the warm May evening at Brass Tacks, so I hate to interrupt them, but as Cindy’s nutritionist, I must.  As I stride towards them, Cindy pauses mid-forkful, looks at me with daggers in her blue eyes, and says, “Sara, I told you I don’t want you doing this anymore.”

I tell the couple that I was  on my way to meet some friends at Earth Bistro, which is true, but  I noticed them  sitting here. “Thought I’d stop by and say hi, but as a good nutritionist, I can’t lie. I also noticed what you were eating.”

Cindy turns up the corners of her mouth in a feeble attempt to smile. “Are you sure you’re not spying on me?”

I guess I kind of am, but I say to her, “Of course not. You told me not to follow you anymore.” Then, I stoop down to table level and push my long dark hair away from my face and say, “Since I’m here though, how much more of that pinwheel are you going to eat, Cindy? “

Cindy clenches her jaw and meets my eyes. “Bryan and I are sharing this, and I’m only having a small Greek salad for dinner.”

“Very good. Just make sure you ask for the dressing on the side.” I can’t help saying as I stroll away from their table and shake my head.

Seven weeks ago, Cindy bought a ten-session package from me so I could help her lose those stubborn fifteen pounds before bikini season. With my help, Cindy lost five pounds in three weeks, but then she was at a plateau.  I carefully examined Cindy’s food and exercise diary. “You seem to be sticking to your plan. You’ve done three days of cardio, two of weight-training, and one of yoga. That’s good.”

Cindy leaned her chin into her palm and tears welled up in her hazel eyes. “I think I’ve done everything right, but the scale hasn’t budged for ten days. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

I was certain she had consumed more than she should have, but I said, “Are you sure you’ve logged everything accurately? What about last Saturday? Did you really just drink one glass of sangria? You wrote that you took two bites of black forest cake. Are you certain that’s all you had?”

I had a feeling she hadn’t been entirely truthful when she said, “I did, but now that I think about it, the glass was closer to 16 ounces than ten, and I may have eaten a bit more than two bites.”

As usual, I wanted to praise my client for what she did well, but I also needed to point out her poor choices. “You went out to lunch once and dinner twice this past week. Your food selections were pretty good except for the eggplant parmesan, too much fat, and you should have had the Thai chicken over cauliflower rice rather than regular rice.”

I thought she was going to cry when she met my eyes and said, “I’m trying. I really am.”

I wanted to be sympathetic but firm, so I said, “I know you are Cindy but as I’ve told you, it’s important for you to consistently make low-calorie healthy choices, no matter where you are.  And of course, log everything that goes into your mouth, besides lots of water.”

Cindy blinked back her tears. “Oh Sara, if only you were sitting on my shoulder watching me when I go to a restaurant, I’d do so much better. That’s where I lose my resolve.”

I said, “You eat a lot of your meals outside the home, don’t you?” to which she replied, “Yes, to secure many of my health IT and software sales, I often need to wine and dine my clients. My husband Bryan also likes sharing a romantic dinner at a restaurant a couple times a month, and sometimes we go out with friends.”

I was quiet for a moment; then a brilliant idea hit me. “If you want, keeping an eye on you could be part of my service. You seem to do well when you’re eating at home, but when you go out, I can see that you sometimes overindulge a little or make the wrong choices. How would you feel if I turned up here and there, but you wouldn’t know where and when?”    

Cindy said, “Mm, that has possibilities, but how much more would it cost me?”

I couldn’t hold back my excitement. To my knowledge, no other nutritionist keeps that close an eye on their clients.  Watching over them might be the missing denominator to successful weight loss. If this works, I could be the most sought out nutritionist in the Delaware Valley. I said, “Nothing. I’ll pilot this idea using you. If it works, I’ll have another tool to help you, as well as others, lose weight.”

I knew I had sold Cindy on my idea, when she said, “Sounds good to me, but how will you know where I am?”

I told her, “When we meet, I’ll have you jot down times and places you’ll eat outside of the home. If you go somewhere else in between sessions, just text me.”

Cindy narrowed her eyes and tilted her head to the left. “Will you follow me whenever I dine out?”

I smiled warmly at her. “I won’t become a stalker, if that’s what you’re concerned about, but just knowing I might show up should help you stay on the straight and narrow.”

By week eight, Cindy had lost another six pounds, thanks to my discerning eye, but at our last session, Cindy said, “Sara, I really appreciate your watching over me, but I don’t think I need you to do that anymore.”

I was incredulous. “Really, but you’ve done so well with this method. You only have four pounds to go.”

To my good reasoning, all she could say was, “I know, and I appreciate your help. I really do, but I don’t want you following me anymore.”

I couldn’t help sighing audibly. “Can I ask you why not?”

Cindy squirmed a little before she said, “I’m beginning to feel as though you’re invading my privacy, and it’s embarrassing when you show up at a restaurant when I’m schmoozing my clients.”

Cindy was starting to get on my nerves, but I kept my cool. “But you were on board with this method.”

She agreed that she did, but then said, “Until my package expires, I just want to log my food and meet with you in your office only.”

At the end of their session, I reluctantly agreed not to follow Cindy anymore but recall thinking, surely Cindy doesn’t know what’s best for her. Maybe, I should secretly watch her; I’ll only interfere if I must. She might be miffed at me at first, but she will thank me later when another dietary calamity had been averted.

Cindy should know that one of the reasons she’s been so successful with her weight loss is because I’ve been tracking her. If I could keep an eye on her her for another two weeks, surely Cindy would reach her weight loss goal.

How many times, in the past five weeks, have I helped Cindy avert dietary disaster all because I had shown up at the right time? Didn’t I support Cindy at DaNella’s when she told the waiter she wanted the penne pasta with her chicken marsala, but I told him to substitute steamed vegetables for the side of pasta. I wish I could have given the same advice to the beefy doctor sitting across from Cindy. I hope he keeps my business card because he needs my assistance. How ‘bout when I stopped Cindy from messing up her diet a week ago at the Cheesecake Factory? I was proud of Cindy for ordering a small cobb salad without the bacon and the blue cheese dressing on the side. Just as I was thinking how well she was doing when she only used a tablespoon of the dressing, didn’t I have to to step in when she ordered the Cheesecake with Strawberries? I said, “Cindy, I understand your desire to order cheesecake at this restaurant. I probably couldn’t resist the temptation either, but you need to order the low-carb, no sugar added Low-Licious Cheesecake with Strawberries.” Not only did Cindy oblige, but so did her slightly overweight dinner companion.  The middle-aged woman was pretty, but her high cheekbones were obscured by the puffiness of her face. Somebody also needed to suggest she wear a shrug. When one has chunky arms, going sleeveless is not an attractive option. I really do hope she calls me.

 I think Cindy really depends on me watching her, especially at restaurants like Pizza Paradise, where they serve to die for pizza. Last week when Cindy and her client were so engrossed in their conversation about their granddaughters that they didn’t notice me sitting two tables away, I heard Cindy order two slices of broccoli ricotta pizza and a diet Coke,” I marched over to their table and told the waitress, “No, she only wants one, and substitute the Coke for water. She knows she shouldn’t be drinking chemicals.” Her client was so intrigued by my approach that she called me.

So, no matter what Cindy says she wants or doesn’t want me to do, I know my spying method works. I can’t wait to employ this idea on other clients. My intervention will be the key to their weight loss. They need me.

December 03, 2022 00:25

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Delbert Griffith
09:49 Dec 06, 2022

"They need me." That was a good closing sentence, for it highlighted the dietician's rationalization for her obsessive behavior. Good story. The first-person narrative really shows us the inner workings of the dietician's mindset about her work; she really is obsessive. Nicely done, Kimberly.


12:20 Dec 11, 2022

Thanks so much for your feedback, Delbert.


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