There is an old saying that goes ‘I have not failed. I have simply found 10,000 ways that don’t work.’
Gillian felt they should engrave it on her tombstone. Sadly, she’d dedicated the last thirty years of her life to finding ten thousand diets that didn’t work. Thirty bloody years!
Can you imagine waking up every morning of your adult life and your first thoughts are, did I eat too much yesterday? How should I eat today? Or, oh no, I went off my diet again.
Special occasions are secondly about whose birthday it is or who got the promotion or even your daughter’s wedding, because your first concern is are you going to relax and enjoy the food or stick to your low-carb or low calorie or Paleo or fasting ritual, etc.? Never mind the usual failed attempt to get thin for the event after the invite.
Is this what you born to do? Live your entire life trying and failing to lose weight? Chastising and hating yourself for failing, time and time again?
She knew most naturally thin people thought all overweight folks were just lazy slobs that filled their faces non-stop with garbage, but she could guarantee if they asked most fat people, they’d find they were on a diet right now. Gillian was no different. She was always on a diet and always fat. It’s really a joke, isn’t it? It should be put on a t-shirt.
Gillian was attractive, but always a little chunky. Her cousin once said, “You’d be real competition if you were thin.” The very rare boyfriends would always mention that her butt was a bit too big, or ask, “should you really be eating that?” Gillian had never married, preferring the non-judgmental relationship with Dr. Jones, Doc for short, her adopted tabby cat, who also had a slight weight problem.
This was her story until her forty-fifth birthday. Sick and tired of the cycle, she’d vowed this was the last time. If this last diet didn’t work or if she failed to stick to it, she’d just give up, resign herself to being fat for life, and probably dying young.
So, she got up early the next morning and hit the treadmill for a twenty-minute high intensity interval training session before work. She didn’t eat until her eleven o’clock coffee break because the new experts said that Intermittent fasting was a great way to lose weight and she typically wasn’t hungry in the morning, anyway.
She passed on the ever-present pastries in the staff room and watched all the skinny people enjoy them… again. She drank her coffee with almond milk, and ate her apple with one, and only one, tablespoon of almond butter.
Why was it that every time she resolved to lose the weight, the universe conspired against her?
Her boss stood up and announced, “I’m buying pizza for everyone for lunch today because of our awesome numbers this quarter!”
Great. Now, not only do I not get to enjoy my favorite food while I have a salad and half a turkey sandwich with no mayo, I’ll have to endure the piteous glances, answer the same old questions and deal with the usual remarks:
“Oh, come on Gillian. One bite’s not going to hurt you.”
“On another diet? Sucks to be you.”
“You’re so strong, Gillian,” said through a mouthful of greasy cheese and pepperoni. “I could never resist a piece of pizza.”
Please, leave me alone to be miserable in peace and get that amazing looking, cheese melty, buttery-crusted, savory, crispy-pepperoni laden, piece of heavenly comfort, out of my face!
Gillian was ‘good’ for a full seven days and it was finally the dreaded weigh-in. If there was no loss or even the heart-breaking quarter of a pound, she would give in and be the invisible, tired wearer of black stretchy pants forever.
She placed her feet on the scale with one hand on the counter. Then she let go and closed her eyes, saying the usual prayer to the fat gods. “Please. Please God. Let it be down.” She cracked open one eye and looked down at her fate.
“What? No way. Oh, my gosh.”
She was down seven pounds. In-one-week.
She jumped off the scale and did a happy dance. It was working!
The next week Gillian was ‘pretty good.’ She indulged in two glasses of wine on
Friday night with her neighbor but avoided the chips. She missed a workout on Thursday because she came down with a cold, but she ate healthy small portions, and she had completed every workout since.
Weigh-day came around again with the same rituals- hand on the counter, eyes shut tight, the prayer, and…. Another three pounds, gone!
“This can’t be right. How is this possible?”
Maybe the scale was broken, but she had noticed her clothes were getting loose. So, it had to be right. “Whoop, Whoop!”
A little voice nagged in the back of her mind that maybe something sinister was going on. She pushed the thought down, though, and ignored it. I deserve this. I’m working hard and it’s paying off.
Another week went by and Gillian had cheated here and there. There was a baby shower on Wednesday with assorted hors d'oeuvres, followed by carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and then her sister brought a loaf of homemade bread over on Saturday. So, she skipped her weigh-in, knowing her weight would be up and not wanting to be disappointed. Still, her clothes were getting baggier and even a couple of co-workers had commented that she was looking great.
Four weeks into her diet program, she, once again, got on the scale that Sunday morning. She had bypassed all the rituals this time and couldn’t believe she was down another three pounds. That was now thirteen pounds in less than a month. Impossible, she thought. But freaking awesome! She hadn’t lost this much weight since she went strict low-carb and strength-trained four summers ago, and that had taken three full months!
Gillian went to her closet and opened a dusty box labeled ‘skinny clothes.’ She pulled out her favorite pair of jeans. They smelled a little musty, but she tried them on, anyway. The jeans were still tight but wearable. After admiring herself in the mirror, she put them and a favorite blouse in the wash and wore them to her parent’s for dinner that evening, all the while ignoring that niggling voice that was getting louder.
Another three weeks flew by and, although Gillian was slacking here and there on her diet and exercise, her weight loss was still dramatic. All her clothes, even those from the skinny box, were hanging off her. She’d lost another ten pounds, bringing her total loss to twenty-three pounds in under two months.
The voice said, “Something’s wrong, Gill.” But another voice said, “Maybe it’s all those years of praying. They’re finally being answered. Enjoy it.”
Six more months and another twelve pounds lighter, Gillian went shopping and bought pretty lingerie, something she’d always longed to do. Instead of the utilitarian box bras she’d bought her whole life. She could finally wear colorful pink and blue ones instead of just white and beige.
She even went swimming. She’d always loved being in the water as a young girl and even aspired to become a lifeguard until she started gaining weight and didn’t like the way she looked in a revealing bathing suit. Gillian bought herself a red one piece, instead of the ones she usually had to buy, always ‘body-slimming black’ with the built-in bra and the wide straps. She walked confidently to the edge of the pool and jumped in, not feeling like people were judging, snickering, or paying her any mind at all, except for a couple of men that seemed to admire her figure. This was fun! She felt attractive again. Without the puffy face and double chin, she could see her pretty face again in the mirror.
After her glorious swim, Gillian changed and as she was pulling on her new size six jeans, she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. It was low and deep, and it lasted a few, agonizing long seconds. When it passed, it left a sick feeling in her stomach. The same pain had begun weeks ago and was steadily getting worse. Gillian had tried to ignore it at first and blame it on strenuous exercise or too much gassy food. Her appetite was also waning, something Gillian had never experienced.
“Better get to a doctor, Gillian,” said that troublesome voice, clear as goddamned day now and loud as hell.
Another five pounds lighter, Gillian made the appointment for her second doctor’s appointment, who confirmed that she had stage four ovarian cancer.
“Well, isn’t that a fine how do you do?” she said to her physician as the tears fell down her cheeks. “I’m finally thinner than I’ve ever been and just when I’m starting to love my life, wearing pretty dresses, luxurious lingerie, cute jeans, and the attraction of the opposite sex, I’m going to die in less than three months?”
Gillian told her family and got her affairs in order. She asked her sister to take care of Dr. Jones and made the arrangements for her burial.
At the end, Gillian was down to a mere eighty-three pounds, way past her cherished goal of the one-twenty-six she’d always strived to be.
As the last few beats of the heart monitor blipped across the screen in the cool, clay-colored hospital room, her last thoughts circled around in her dilaudid-infused mind.
“Well, at least I’m skinny.”