The summer between fourth and fifth grade I started to ‘develop.’ I didn’t notice until the incredibly mortifying moment that my mother mentioned to me it was probably time to get a training bra which, by the way, is just an uglier version of a bra… why does society do this to awkward pre-teens? After the training bra incident, I started to keep track of all the weird shit my body was doing. We had just gotten cable, so I spent most of that summer watching TV marathons instead of playing outside like I normally would and my body began to reflect the lifestyle change. I noticed sometime in the middle of the summer that my belly had grown round, and protruded from all my child sized clothing.
I didn’t really think about the fact that I was fat until 6th grade when I developed my first crush on a real boy. I say a ‘real boy,’ because my first intense feelings for a member of the opposite sex were for Tobias, a character in the Animorphs book series who happened to be stuck in the body of a hawk. He was totally emo about being stuck as a hawk and missing his family and I was super into that. Anyway, in my 6th grade drama class I met this boy named (I kid you not) Clay Cox. He was popular, he dated one of my neighbors and he was an actor – he was on this Cartoon Network morning show where pre-teens reviewed cartoons on Saturday morning.
I’m positive Clay didn’t know I existed. He made fun of me once and I cherish the memory to this day. I realized that unlike Tobias, whose every thought and feeling I could know just by purchasing the next Animorphs book, I would actually have to get Clay to talk to me in order to learn anything about him – other than his thoughts on Johnny Bravo, which I knew very well since I immediately started waking up on Saturday mornings to watch his Cartoon Network show. I looked at my neighbor and wondered how she got Clay to talk to her. She was blonde, popular and a cheerleader – that definitely wasn’t happening for me. But, she was also skinny and my dad had recently lost a ton of weight doing the Atkins Diet. I was so sure that Clay and I were meant to be that I cracked open the book and decided at the ripe age of 12 to cut out carbs.
That was a terrible idea. My weight ballooned and by the beginning of 7th grade I weighed more than I do now. My family moved long before I ever slimmed down and got a chance to talk to Clay. In my attempts to enter a relationship with another 6th grader, I entered what has become a life-long relationship between me, my scale, body dysmorphia and crash diets.
I’m not one to lament this struggle, because for the most part I’ve been able to keep my weight in the ‘normal’ range since I turned 18. When I was younger I controlled it with a combination of seeing a nutritionist and bulimia and now I’ve moved onto healthier habits like exercise and weighing myself regularly to stay on track. The being said, I’ve also tried almost every crash diet under the sun.
If you’re considering going on a diet for summer, don’t! Diets are stupid and you’re much better off counting calories and working out. But, if you’re not going to listen to me here’s my advice as far as diets I’ve tried that work and those that really, really don’t:
Successful: The Depression Diet
Open the fridge, look at the food, decide you don’t have the energy to deal with choices and that maybe if you don’t eat for long enough your heart will stop beating and this cruel life will end. Close the fridge. Go upstairs and listen to the Dirty Projector’s What I See on repeat and cry.
Unsuccessful: The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet posits that if you cut out carbohydrates for an extended period of time your body will enter something called Ketosis. Ketosis causes you to burn fatty acids instead of glucose for your energy, resulting in significant weight loss. The only approved medical use for a Ketonic diet is for people trying to reduce epileptic fits, but the diet has remained popular for a number of years probably because it’s one of the only diet that encourages you to eat a shit ton of meat and cheese. This sounds like a lot of fun, until you actually experience ketosis. Entering Ketosis SUCKS. Your stomach feels like it’s full of venomous acid from hell and you get a fever.
The diet sort of feels like you’ve been tricked into joining Scientology – in order to test and see if you’ve entered Ketosis, you can pee on these ‘Keto-Sticks’ that look a lot like the sticks you use to test the chlorine level of a pool. Imagine saying to your friends, “I’ve almost entered the Ketosis stage!” at dinner while you chow down on a plate of sausage.
Successful: The Breakup Diet
Similar to the depression diet, The Breakup Diet involves a lot of crying and starving oneself. It does include two new elements; alcohol and cardio. Don’t rush to the gym just yet – by cardio I mean sex with strangers you meet at the bar where you’re drinking alone. Need some extra thinspiration? Arrange for a meet up with the ex to exchange personal belongings, that should buy you at least another 5 pound loss.
Unsuccessful: Eating Disorders
While long-term dedication to anorexia and bulimia might lead to more permanent types of weight loss, it can also lead to hospitalization. Not fun. What is fun is trying each of these eating disorders for a few days or weeks at a time. Did you know there’s one called Spitting and Chewing? You can eat anything you want as long as you don’t swallow it!
Successful: The Undiagnosed Food Allergy
Nothing solves late night eating like waking up at three in the morning and getting violently ill because you ingested something that you’re actually super allergic to. After about a year of this, I can guarantee that you’ll be so scared of eating that you won’t even think twice before turning down desert.
Unsuccessful: The Austin and Tiffany Vegan Challenge
It started with a couple of tipsy texts from me at the airport on my way home to Thanksgiving Break. “Austin, I bet if I go vegan for the holidays I will lose a bunch of weight.” “OMG, I’ll do it with you. I bet I’ll beat you.” We made a bet that the first person to break the vegan diet would owe the other one $100. The problem with this diet was that more often than not, we’d drunkenly decide we had the night off so we could eat Spicy Specials. Like eating disorders, I’m sure veganism works for the more dedicated, self-controled individual. As a crash diet, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really want to make yourself hate tofu.
This post is getting long, here’s a list of some other ones I’ve tried:
Successful: Bill Phillip’s Body for Life; Suzanne Somers’ Somersize or maybe that was because I grew a few inches that summer; Getting a parasite from a burger place in Boston; The flu; The only drink coffee and eat one apple every other day diet; Adderall.
Unsuccessful: The We Just Eat Salad until we go to Walmart late at night and buy donuts diet (aka- Freshman Year of college); The Jillian Michaels book that I tried for one day and then realized I don’t want to wake up at 6 am to do circuit training at the gym nor do I want to make canned tuna a core part of my diet; Juice cleanses; All raw vegetable cleanses; Waiting until I hear my stomach make a noise to know that I’m hungry; Giving up sugar for Lent; Eating whatever I want and loving myself just how I am.
Honorable Mention for being the only diet that I know of that is also a cult: The Weigh Down Diet.