A few weeks ago, I was out running errands when I came upon an older gentleman, perhaps in his 70s, out walking his dog. He looked a bit scruffy, with an overgrown white beard (think winter hedges) and tufts of hair that didn’t quite hide the pervasive baldness and sun spots that lay beneath. He appeared somewhat disheveled, but not disoriented, so I didn’t give it any undue attention. Instead, I focused on his legs. His long, lean almost chicken-like legs and wished to myself: Gosh, if I could have legs like that for just one day. It would be glorious…
Then I realized: That’s probably not normal—to covet an 80-year-old man’s bony legs. And yet, there I was—full throttle into my dysfunction.
Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to realize it.
And so, that night I shared the story (and then some) with my husband, who bless his heart, tries so hard to empathize with how I feel about my body but struggles with it. “If only you could see what I see,” he says “a beautiful woman with a curvaceous body”.
Bless his lovestruck heart.
And so I use a particular description to help him understand my viewpoint of feeling, well, icky in my own skin despite what I can’t see and longing for the legs of an opposite-sexed octagenarian: Imagine—I say to the handsome and rugged man I live with (who lives mostly in blue jeans that always look fantastic on him)—you were stuck in a clown suit and couldn’t get out of it. After too many nights of costuming and bold self-expression, it seems you can’t get the darned thing off.
After trying everything—loosening the zipper, pushing the big buttons through the too-small holes, trying to pull the ruffles up and over your head, or down and off of your feet—it simply won’t budge. Not even the bulbous red nose is willing to compromise even an inch.
And so, there you are: Every day, in a clown suit. At work. On vacation. For family dinners and nights out with friends. To high school reunions, corporate meetings, and birthdays. You are big and red and puffy and polka dotted through it all, fabric stuck on you like a tenacious ex-boyfriend or double-sided tape.
Until finally, you can take it no more so you decide to research seamstresses – get referrals from trusted friends, tailors, and retail shops – and finally make the rounds. Seamstress number one tells you her scissors won’t work on your clown suit, but you can try a knife from your kitchen drawer – she’ll write down exactly the kind to get. When that doesn’t work, you go to another, who tells you that you need to meditate the problem away, that’s it all a figment of your imagination and if you’d just let thoughts of the clown suit go and relax, it would miraculously disappear. Still not satisfied, you go to another one who suggests you try a surgical approach with the appropriate tools. Still another recommends a beef rub and some quality time in a cage with a hungry tiger. She has connections at the zoo. Why that suit will be off before you know it!
And, if, they all agree, you don’t want to do any of it, the best course is just to embrace it. Accept that this is your particular clown suit and that, despite, you can still enjoy a happy and productive existence. Try to be content in the suit—make it your own, maybe spiff it up with the right jewelry or lipstick. And then, remember your good job, your loving friends, your family. Remember that how you look on the outside is really, in the scheme of things, not all that important. Nobody notices, cares, or wants to hear about it.
So, the next day, after this deep conversation with my husband (who I love), I decided to call my friend Marilyn who despite having a great body, shares many of my screwed-up body issues (I love Marilyn too). I hadn’t talked to her in a few months, but that’s okay. That’s sort of the rhythm of our relationship, especially since we live in separate states. Although we do stay connected via email.
In any event, the urge was strong to get in touch. And sure enough, she answered the phone with a vigor I hadn’t heard in a while. What did she do? I asked. She lost 25 pounds. But when, how, why? Because, she said, losing weight was like rolling over the Titanic all by herself (I could relate), she decided the time had come to do something radical. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Like…
…the HCG diet (Google it).
As a person who hates to see anybody cry or do something radical alone, I hopped on the desperation train with her.
So let me tell you a little about the HCG diet if you don’t already know. Turns out it’s been around since the 1950s. Essentially, it’s a medically supervised protocol that has you take a controlled amount of the hormonal supplement every morning for 23 or 40 days (by pill, injection, or drops) and eat a very specific 500-calorie-a-day diet to lose weight. Now before you go all Mehmet Oz on me, consider that while 500 calories a day is technically considered starving, the HCG pulls from your natural fat stores, allowing you to feed off of those additional calories (between 1,500 and 4,000 a day) and, as a result, shed pounds SAFELY at the same time.
To help you make the transition to 500 calories without wanting to hang yourself from hunger, nausea, and dizziness—and knowing it takes three days for the HCG to fully enter your system—you start the first two days by “loading” all the fats you can possibly consume over 48 hours to hold you through. Well, I’m not sure if the brochure reads precisely in that way, but at least that’s my interpretation. (Remember that old game show that had contestants climb upright into a plastic tube with flying money and they had 60 seconds to grab as much as they could? Yeah, like that.)
And so, I did. Most fun I’ve had in a while (sorry babe). Watched the eyeballs roll clear out of my shocked family’s collective heads when, upon meeting for breakfast on the first of my gorge days, they witnessed me eating an unprecedented chicken salad melt, cheesy fries, and a black-and-white milkshake. That was preceded by a bowl of General Chao’s Chicken and pork fried rice for breakfast and followed up with a large meat-lover’s pizza for dinner. And that was just day one! OH GLORY DAY!
Suffice to say, by the end of the second day, I was stuffed, three pounds heavier (which they say is normal), and ready for induced vomiting. Those 500 calories were starting to look like the Hope Diamond…which I suspect is part of the point.
So where am I now? Sixteen days in, 11 pounds down, bursting with energy and feeling great. And although I am my own science experiment, I am also the most hopeful I’ve been in three years that I will finally be able to retire this flesh-colored clown suit. And that maybe, just maybe, find my way into a pair of skinny jeans by Easter.
And I invite you to stay tuned for my progress. By all means…
Now onto you: Conducted any radical experiments of your own lately? What bull have you taken by the horns in 2012? Do share.
Until next time!