I Quit!

Here’s the first question: Why am I eating raw green beans?

Answer: Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I am on a diet.

Second question: A diet?  Me?  I am not overweight.  Or pudgy.  My problem is what Bruce Willis’ girlfriend describes in ‘Pulp Fiction’ as “a little pot.”  I’m a little round in the tum-tum and changing waist sizes on my Gap jeans would be hard on the ego.  But that’s not the real answer why I’m dieting.  The answer is, for some strange, self flagellating reason-- I love to give things up.

I should tell you that my wife has forbidden me to tell people we’re on a “diet.”  She prefers the term “cleanse.”  But since we’re not drinking lemon juice spiked with cayenne pepper and giving each other enemas every night, I wouldn’t call this a cleanse.  Let’s call it what it is: America’s other National Pastime: The Cuckoo Fad Diet.

My wife came home with this idea recently.  She’d gotten a book called “The Fast Metabolism Diet” in which “diet” doesn’t mean “diet.”  Heavens no!  “Diet” in the world of  Fast Metabolism is an acronym for “Did I Eat Today?”  I didn’t read the book cover to cover; I saw just enough to get the gist.  I must have been smirking most of the way through it, though, because it says the same things every diet book ever written says. All the classics:

1.  This diet is so easy !

2.  You’ll get to eat as much as you want !

3.  The recipes you’ll cook are delicious !

And that right there is a trifecta of bullshit.

Well, actually #2 is accurate.  It’s just what you get to ‘eat as much as you want’ of is vegetables.  Now, I like vegetables.  I eat them all the time, in fact. But all-you-can-eat broccoli is not the remedy your stomach will be looking for 2 days into this diet.  Your stomach will be saying something like: “Get me a fucking cheeseburger NOW!”

For the past 10 days (the diet lasts 28) I’ve given up: coffee, milk, sugar, bread, cheese, gluten, and alcohol.  My tummy has been in constant low rumble mode.  A moment ago I considered gnawing on my laptop.

According to the book’s author, I’m not supposed to be hungry.  I need to eat more.  More vegetables, specifically.  The diet does include fruit, lean meats, “healthy fats” and sprouted grains (which are a good substitute for cardboard, in case you need some).  But that stuff is limited.  Vegetables?  Unlimited! Actually in some “zones” of this diet, you can’t have tomatoes or carrots. Really?  A diet where you can’t have a frickin’ carrot?  What have I gotten myself into?

I suppose this is my version of running a marathon.  Some people relish physical challenges like triathlons, swimming the English Channel, or climbing Everest.  I’m not interested in that kind of masochism, but when I ponder the daunting concept of going 28 days without coffee, dairy or bread, I think: can I do that ?

I know when it comes to coffee in particular, some people think this diet is too nuts.  I was talking to my son’s teacher about my java ban and you would have thought I told her I gave up breathing.

“You know why I would never do something like that,” she asked me. “Because life’s too short!” Then she hoisted her coffee mug in the air and began to cackle.  I was torn between bursting into tears or snatching the cup from her hand and gulping down some of that sweet caffeinated nectar.

I’m always curious to see how I’ll feel after giving something up.  It’s been almost 18 years since I smoked a cigarette and I still view quitting them as one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.  Ditto for my daily soda.  I was pumping that shit into my body every day.  When I think back on it now, it pains me.  I feel much better without them.  

When I’m at the supermarket, I’m often aghast at the crap people pile into their carts.  All kinds of junk and prepared food.  Do you ever see some horrendous item at the store and think: “Who the hell buys that?”  Like corn dogs, “Lunchables,” pre cooked bacon, or the seemingly countless boxes of high fructose crack in the cereal aisle.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a little junk food now and then, but the volume of shitty food that must go out the door every week at these stores is staggering.  No wonder the country is so fat!

The older I get, the kinder I want to be to my body.  I no longer take it for granted that everything will be working well and feeling great when I wake up in the morning.  With all the amazing things that my body does for me every day-- without me even thinking about it-- now I’m gonna throw some junk food, booze and sugar down the hole for it to deal with?

Well, of course I am occasionally.  Like my son’s teacher said: life is short, and I enjoy those things.  But…  Life without buffalo wings?  Pepperoni pizza?  A breakfast burrito at the local taco wagon?  Perish the thought.  I just don’t want to become too soft in the middle because I’m eating that stuff all the time.  I have to prove to myself I have discipline, even if I’m not disciplined enough to run 26.2 miles.

So: it’s back to the raw green beans.  I’m in Zone 2 of the diet today, which means I can enjoy them with 4 ounces of chicken breast, cooked in broth-- not oil.  I’ll be doing this for another 18 days, God help me, which means I’ll be sitting down to Easter dinner this Sunday and passing on the ham, potatoes and Cadbury Cream Eggs.  I love those evil little fuckers.

It’s not all for nothing, though.  Yes, I may be hungry and edgy, and gaze longingly your coffee mug for the next 2 ½ weeks, but I’m down 5 pounds already.  My “little pot” is starting to shrink.