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Another kind of 'hunger games'

Once her sense of self-righteous low-fat superiority wears off, she is left -- well -- hungry.

April 08, 2012|By Amy Goldman Koss
  • Novelist Amy Goldman Koss, currently on a diet, writes that she's found "many parallels between smoking, eating and ... monogamy!"
Novelist Amy Goldman Koss, currently on a diet, writes that she's… (Los Angeles Times )

As a woman on Day 31 of a diet, I am finally part of the greater calorie/carb-counting dialogue. No more standing fat and jolly in the checkout line selecting my candy. Now I face the magazine rack with its promise that I can lose 30 pounds in 20 minutes by embracing three simple diet tips!

Yes, I know there are few things more boring than other people's "weight loss journeys," but, conversely, there is nothing quite as fascinating as one's own.

Mine began this way: I was standing in line for the airplane bathroom behind a fat young woman in a tank top when I happened to notice that her perfectly plump, rounded shoulder was as ripe and juicy as a summer peach. Because I am a rational, non-cannibalistic being, I refrained from leaning forward for a bite of her flesh.

But the experience brought home an important point: that all fat is not created equal. Smooth, young fat looks sumptuous, sensual, generous and, yes, even tasty. Think Botticelli. Old fat, such as the substance I behold clinging to my personal person, is something else entirely: a stale, puckery, humorless stuff with no bounce or sense of delight.

That was all it took. On the flight, when the attendant came through with his meager offer of peanuts, or pretzels, I refused both, ordered water instead of wine, and a diet was born.

A few days later a skinny friend asked me if it was getting easier as I got used to the new regime. The answer was no. Once the novelty and sense of self-righteous low-fat superiority wear off, one is left …well … hungry!

When I quit smoking I used to draw invisible circles with my index finger around any smokers I saw on the street or in traffic. This separated me from them and kept me safe. But eaters are everywhere! Even at my own kitchen table!

I just returned from coffee (sans muffin, croissant, bagel or banana nut bread) with a friend and fellow dieter. We were surrounded by shameless, masticating carb eaters, and had to cling to each other for strength. While clinging, she asked me how my writing was going. In answering I realized I've been way too busy not eating anything I like — to write.

I'm a one-obsession-at-a-time kind of gal, and I accept that moderation isn't for everyone.

I came late to the diet game because between the ages of 14 and 45 I concentrated my efforts on smoking cigarettes rather than eating. It turns out there are many parallels between smoking, eating and … monogamy!

When you get married, if you happen to be me, you have guilty dreams about sex with men other than your husband.

Then you quit smoking and dream of sneaking a Kool.

And two nights ago, I began dreaming of sinking my crooked little teeth into fresh slices of thick, grainy bread heaped with rich, fragrant bleu cheese. Another with extra-sharp cheddar. A third slathered with creamy brie. Sigh.

If there were anything at all fair about anything, then every time a dieter said no thank you to a particularly delectable offering, she would be instantly relieved of 31/2 pounds of lumpy flab. Notice I didn't ask for anything outlandish, not 43 pounds, or even 28. Just a modest and measly 3.5.

But I would ask, too, that those 31/2 pounds be barred from ever returning.

Several years ago I abandoned 20 pounds on Weight Watchers. They tracked me down, of course, and brought an additional 10 pounds back with them to punish me for my treason. I've noted that risk but have re-upped nonetheless, with every intention of returning soon to my pre-pregnancy, pre-quitting smoking, pre-relentless-gravity body.

The other night, however, over lettuce and tepid water, another dieting pal suggested we promise to tell each other when we are getting too skinny. She doesn't want to become one of those deflated, bitter-looking, wizened old broads whose slack, fat-free faces wobble in the breeze.

Ewwww. I have no intention of being one either.

Not because I will have lifting, tucking, bloodletting, face/neck tailoring or injections, but because that is simply not what I am picturing as I shun the bakery and snub the cheese counter. No, I shall soon be slim and firm, a bit taller perhaps, with the slightest trace of a French accent, my memory intact — including nouns — my hearing and eyesight keen, my posture … perfect! Young again!

I suspect you won't recognize me when next we meet.

Amy Goldman Koss' latest novel for teens is "The Not So Great Depression." http://www.amygoldmankoss.net

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