My resolution to lose weight, work out, and eat healthier always comes about in a different way. One time, I could be flipping through GQ and stumble across a fashion spread in which some celeb with a diamond-hard body is sporting summer's coolest swimwear. "I don't need a $300-dollar Marc Jacobs swimsuit to get ready for the beach!" I think to myself. "What I need is to stop mainlining milkshakes so lifeguards don't mistake me for a beached marine animal."
Alternatively, it could be a simple offhanded remark made by my boyfriend that sends me spiraling into a vortex of irrational self-consciousness:
"Want to order a pizza tonight?" I'll ask.
"For the second night in a row?" he'll reply.
"Oh, I get it. I had pizza last night, so I guess that means I don't deserve to eat ever again! Fine! I'll just have a glass of water for dinner, unless you think that will make me bloated too!"
Other times, I'll be watching television alone late at night, a microwaved burrito balanced in my lap, when the P90X infomercial comes on. Normally, I'd get the remote control to switch the channel, but it's all the way on the other side of the room and my warm bean and cheese delight is pinning me to the couch. So, I continue watching until the entire burrito has disappeared, although it's not until I need to unbutton my jeans that I'm really forced to examine my life and finally become persuaded by Tony Horton's abs. "Fine, you bastard! My diet starts tomorrow!"
But no matter how the resolution comes to be, it always ends the same: in tragic failure.
My first week aboard the Healthy Express goes relatively well. I go to the grocery store and eschew all delicious desserts and salty snacks, opting instead for celery and fat-free yogurt. In the cereal aisle, I put down the Fruit Loops and pick up the Fiber One. I buy a bathroom scale and cut out a picture from a magazine for 'thinspiration' and tape it to my refrigerator. I'm convinced I'm going to be a male model in no time!
Week two, I step on the scale and I've made no progress whatsoever. My jeans are not falling lower on my hips and the fat is not dissolving around my still-completely-hidden ribcage. Discouraged, I turn to the Internet in search of advice and discover a whole world of trendy diets I've been missing out on. I contemplate juice fasts (grapefruit, lemonade, açaí), cleanses and detox diets (cabbage soup, bananas) and become convinced that any one of them could hold the key to my transformation into renown fitness icon. I am only able to stick with the cleanse for about 24 hours until I decide I'm probably starving myself (I am) and may actually end up getting too skinny (I won't).
Now, in my desperate state, I begin to look for loopholes in the whole 'healthy diet' business. "It's too hard," I whine. "There must be another way!" Unfortunately, unwholesome alternatives are what spring to mind first. I think back to the time I got food poisoning and lost five pounds, and begin searching Yelp for sushi restaurants on the verge of being shut down by the health department. Then, I recall the hours spent scrubbing my bathroom post-food-poisoning and decide to come up with something less... messy. After remembering that nicotine curbs your appetite and speeds up metabolism, I briefly consider taking up smoking -- only to envision some of the overweight smokers I've met in my life and decide it's not enough of a guarantee. Maybe cocaine? I knew some sorority girls in college who swore by coke, and come swimsuit season they always looked fabulous, as long as you ignored the dead eyes. I could think of it as "The Kate Moss Diet" and feel thin and glamorous at the same time. But I wouldn't even know where to buy any, and probably for the best.
Finally, hungry and disillusioned, I begin to rationalize any and all desired food consumption with some transparently faulty logic. Do I want to eat an entire basket of ketchup-soaked French fries? Well, it's really just potatoes and tomatoes, both of which come from the earth, and therefore must be healthy! Also, how different is ice cream from that yogurt I've been eating anyway? May as well go for the Ben & Jerry's since it's on sale. And pizza? That's really just a quick way to cover all the food groups in one meal! Crust, sauce, meat, cheese, veggies -- it's basically a superfood, like quinoa! I pat myself on the back for being so healthy and efficient.
Sadly, the new bathroom scale does not register these rationalizations as well as my brain does, and I know it's time for my diet to come to an end. The vicious battle concludes with me deciding that I never really needed to lose weight in the first place, that I'm content just the way I am. I flip back through the GQ swimsuit spread and whisper "Photoshop" under my breath. I give my boyfriend a hug and tell him it's a good thing he's in love with my personality, because the delivery guy is on his way and he's not bringing salad. And, the next time the P90X commercial comes on, I look at Tony Horton and then I look at my burrito and I reflect on the fact that he will probably never eat one of these godsend burritos for the rest of his life. How happy could he even be?