It’s usually this time of year that my mind is startled out of its sweater-weather rut by the inevitable truth that short-sleeve season is upon us and I’ve done nothing all winter to rein in the spread of my cafeteria lady arms.
A few years ago, following one of my frequent strolls on the “As Seen on TV” aisle of Walgreens, I invested in the Shake Weight, which promised toned arms in just a few shakes. Like most products on the “As Seen on TV” aisle, the Shake Weight’s promise was as hollow as a 99¢ chocolate Easter bunny. Today, as I urgently pursue a patent for my Arm Spanx idea, the Shake Weight rests comfortably in the recesses of my closet – the graveyard for my assorted, disappointing fitness paraphernalia.
Toning up is only half of my perennial struggle. Eating right is the other.
Knowing I’d never consent with forewarning, my husband Bob once scheduled a house call from a nutritionist whom I welcomed like a drive-by shooter.
It was springtime and we’d renewed our commitment to the never-ending diet. In an overeager, impulsive moment, my husband had somehow tracked down a woman who sucks every last ounce of joy out of food as a chosen profession, presumably to get our diets started on the right track.
As the nutritionist – we’ll call her “Size 2” – made her way up the sidewalk, my husband said, “Oh, by the way, this lady is coming to talk to us about nutrition.” (Exhibit A, your honor.)
If there’s anything more irritating than someone older than a fifth grader in a size 2, it’s a lecture about nutrition from her. Although she could have slid in through the mail slot of my front door, I welcomed Size 2 into my home with clenched teeth, resisting the overwhelming urge to snap her in half and rename her Size 1.
As Size 2 launched into the food pyramid, I mentally sized her up. And while I’m reluctant to stereotype others according to a single factor, I didn’t need any confirmation to know I’d pegged Size 2 for everything a nutritionist probably is. This is a woman, I surmised, who prepares all meals from scratch – heavy on the green-and-leafies – every Sunday afternoon and stores them in carefully labeled nesting containers inside a spotless refrigerator. For fun, she probably estimates the calorie count of each meal and writes it down in a food journal. On Sunday nights, she probably irons all of her size 2 pants for the week and practices her “tsk, tsk,” as she daydreams about inflicting nutrition guilt onto happy eaters like me. Her poor family.
As Size 2 droned on about the importance of vitamins, minerals and water intake, I wanted to cut her off by offering her a bowl of steam and a Tic Tac while I dipped my Double Stuf Oreos into a glass of milk across from her. I comforted my pudgy self with the reassurance that she would only get to talk to us about healthy choices. Knowing all I had to hide, I wasn’t about to invite her to look inside my pantry; she’d have a kitten twice her own size.
Meanwhile, my husband, the most ADHD person on the block, actually appeared to be hanging on Size 2’s every word of nutritional admonishment. At one point, he felt inspired enough to proclaim just how great he feels when he’s getting plenty of water-soluble fiber in his diet, announcing that our first step should be to clean out the pantry and replace every delicious thing in it with Grape-Nuts and Raisin Bran.
To guarantee we would have an argument after Size 2 left, Bob said, “You should see what we’ve got in the pantry. Come take a look.”
Nooooooooooooooooooooooo. Are you kidding? She can’t handle the truth!
Size 2 couldn’t get to the kitchen fast enough. Bob threw open the pantry door and invited her in. I could hear her audible gasp as her little bird-like heart thumped even faster at my den of gluttony, filled with Pop-Tarts, Cheetos, Little Debbies, Lucky Charms, marshmallow cream and Karo syrup.
Surrounded by cases of Dr. Pepper and Nesquik, Size 2 cringed and sputtered out, “Oh, myyyyy. Oh, my. Oh, boy. Ohhhhhh, boy.” The sight of Chips Ahoy, a clawed open bag of caramels (you know, just because) and lifetime supplies of MSG and high-fructose corn syrup caused Size 2 to shake visibly.
“I see you’ve got the shakes,” I said to her. “You know what’s good for that?” I asked, knowing Size 2 would have suggested a high-protein fiber bar. “One of these Zebra cakes! Try it!” I insisted, adding, “oh, and don’t come back until you’re a size 6.”