A Fresh Start

By Jill Sherer

Tonight, I ate dinner alone in my Toyota RAV4. After three hours at the hair salon, I made the mistake of going to the grocery store hungry, where I bought a whole host of goodies that, frankly, I shouldn't have.

I left the store with two sacks of food, a plastic fork and bad intentions. I hurried through the parking lot to my car, put the key in the ignition and fired up the fork instead of the engine. While a pea-green Ford Taurus waited for me to vacate my parking space, I downed a quarter-pound of tuna salad laced with full-throttle mayonnaise.

Feeling no pressure, despite the angry looks I was getting from the driver of the Taurus, I washed down the tuna with six pieces of vegetable maki, two slices of tofu teriyaki, seven forkfuls of chocolate pudding, one turkey ball marinara, and a partridge in a pear tree (not really, but if they had sold one, I'd have eaten it).

Once the food was gone and my stomach fully distended, I finally gave the Ford my space and drove off to meet my boyfriend for dinner -- making a pact with myself to eat only a small bowl of lettuce no matter what restaurant we settled on.

You might be thinking, gee, that all sounds very healthy (not the behavior, clearly, but the food items). "Tofu. Tuna. Turkey. Vegetables. All the food groups were pretty much covered. So, what's the problem?" The problem is, who am I kidding? As we all know, the mayo in the tuna, the oil in the tofu and chocolate chips in the pudding contain enough calories and fat for an entire day.

I've been kidding myself for years. When I was a little girl, I used to believe that if my mother said I could eat it, it didn't have any calories. This was based on the simple fact that my mother watched my food intake (and still does, despite the four states between us) like a probation officer watches an ex-con. I knew that if she let me have a cookie, a piece of birthday cake, or lunch on a day we were going out for a "big dinner," it couldn't hurt me.

Well, that was -- and still is -- a fallacy. And there are more fallacies where that came from in my grab bag, like the one that calls tying a sweater around your waist "a fashion statement." In my world, it's a way to mask too many tuna melts at the diner.

So what to do? Well, I'm doing this, committing to the Weight-Loss Diary for one year. An act of true bravery, probably my most courageous since the whole "lose weight while you sleep" scandal. (Never mind.) Putting my actual weight and bad eating habits out there for my entire high-school senior class as fodder for our next reunion. Bringing the rest of you along for the ride in the hopes that you'll help keep me in check -- and out of the checkout line.

The fact is, I'm ready. I'm ripe like a grape to give up the fallacies, the tricks, the gimmicks, the yo-yo dieting, the extra paunch in my belly and the chubby arms I inherited from my favorite grandmother; in other words, the 40 pounds I've put on since my 30th birthday. The fact that, despite a closet the size of Bloomingdale's, I struggle to find something to wear to a Cubs game.

I'm especially ready to give up the heavy person on the outside (because I don't know if you ever really get rid of the one on the inside) eating dinner alone in her parked car while the world -- or somebody in a pea-green Taurus -- waits. It's time to get moving.