09/03/2014 09:53 am ET

The Deep End: Dieting Obsession And Weight Loss

Zero Creatives via Getty Images

One summer I decided to become celebrity thin. Every spring when the stacks of bikini catalogs began arriving in my mailbox, I'd recycled them with vigor, violently throwing them into the bin to make a cathartic thump. Bikinis have always been a sore spot for me. Like Saturn, my waist is encircled by a ring of flab that in the wrong dress can prompt strangers to inquire about how far along I am. I usually shopped for a bathing suit after pounding a few margaritas, taking care to do a walk-by of several stores and choosing the one with the dimmest lighting. Then finally, as if I were purchasing a lawn canopy, I'd make my selection based on the broadest coverage. My ideal bathing suit resembled a beekeeper's uniform, complete with detachable veil. But that summer my armor of sarcasm and mild anger at the glossy lookbooks didn't come on as strongly as it had in the past. I'd just finished writing my dissertation and for more than a month basically forgotten I even had a body: Any energy I might have normally put into physical maintenance (which, granted, was never a lot) I'd directed into finishing my degree in English literature. After living full-time in a fog of academia, these catalogs' images were like flip-flop-clad smelling salts, jolting me awake. Just as Adam and Eve suddenly realized they were naked after biting into the apple, one look at the bronze model in the bandini flooded me with the realization that I had completely let myself go.

Read more on Elle