Flashback: It's 3 a.m., and all I can think about is McDonald's. I slip on something that Sylvester Stallone would wear in a movie (and in real life) and begin my beeline toward those golden arches I've long avoided. McDonalds number one is not open 24 hours, and I'm just as proud of not having known that as I am debilitated by the lack of hamburger in my mouth. But they don't call it New York City for nothing, so I head west like any good junkie, because there's always another McDonalds close by. Please, God, let me blend. Oh, and please, God, tell me that they still have that friggin' dollar menu.
That commercial depicting a smiling McDonald's service woman handing a Happy Meal to a young, privileged kid was not filmed at this location, where the manager, forced to work the register, greets me as though I were Kristin Stewart. I'm looking for beef more than bun (carbs matter, OK?), and though spending $4 on a fast-food sandwich is frustrating, it's absolutely the most necessary thing in my life at this moment (let's not talk about my life). And no pickles, please. After robbing myself, I enter back into the New York City night and run at unimaginable speeds to plug the hole that is my hunger (metaphors are not my forte). The stomachache/depression takes less than half an hour to hit, and when it hits, I'm Brooke Shields in 2005.
These days, everyone seems to be fat, even the thin people. The big mystery continues to hover in obscurity: how to get thin. I saw an ad for pajama jeans that are allegedly "flattering on any figure," and I vomited on my Snuggie. Nothing is flattering on any figure. People seem to be so miffed about weight loss because of all of the contradictory information out there, and who can blame them? Anybody seemingly trustworthy suddenly starts hawking products at you (I'm looking right at you[r biceps], Jillian Michaels), and suddenly they've lost their integrity, and you're back on your couch waiting for the second delivery guy to arrive, because the first one forgot the side of mayo that you were very specific about when placing the order.
I didn't understand anything about food growing up, except how fastest to consume it. My intuition told me that when I was hungry, I should eat, and intuition being a close friend, I trusted her. I knew that fruits and vegetables were what I was supposed to be eating, but because of the bad press that Brussels sprouts and spinach maintained, I came down hard on veggies by dismissing them entirely (similarly to how I dealt with people). Fruit was good, but why have fruit when I could have a doughnut? That makes sense, right? Fruit is like the friend who shows up at the party and everyone's so glad she came, but had she not come, nobody would have been like, "Where is she?" For me, fruit was like the hot-mess friend I hadn't come to realize was the friend I'd come to love later in life.
I was not even a teenager when I began dieting. I would go on a diet, and I would fail, and it began to surpass even clockwork in its regularity. I never identified the real problem, and the diet only made the bad food more desirable. I'm an intense creature of habit, and yeah, I know we all are, but I have got to believe mine is more intense than yours, and because food had never been presented to me with any creativity (sorry, Mom, but it's true, and part of me feels like you should be the one with the "sorry"), I ate the same things all the time. I didn't try coffee or pomegranates or avocado or hummus or almonds until my early 20s. Pardon me while I blend those together into a smoothie and ingest it at Olympic speeds, because that is how much I have come to love these foods.
Once my weight ballooned to sizes only pictures will acknowledge (I was literally mistaken for a balloon at a birthday party), I decided it was time to lose some motherfucking weight. The rules were relatively simple: Someone told Oprah, and Oprah told me, to stop eating after 9 p.m. Someone told her, and she explained to me, that the urge to eat that late is not actually hunger but our body beginning to feed on our fat cells (if that's not the case, that's what I got out of it, anyway). She emphasized, as most diets do, the importance of eating breakfast and starting your day off right. This makes sense, because it gives your body the most time to digest. Oprah is a good god.
It took me longer that it would take a person with as much sense as I to figure out that weight loss is best compounded by diet and exercise. I joined the most expensive gym I could find and decided to make cardio a thing. Hasthag determined. This took a few days (months) to conquer, so once "over it," I consulted with a trainer friend of mine and told him what areas I was looking to tighten up and admitted that my fear of gyms, though long past, remained steadfast when it came to the lifting of the weights. He gave me a couple of basic exercises and gave them objectives like "ring the bell" and "pick up the milk pails."
The first time I ventured into a weight room, I felt like such a goober. When I went right for the 12.5-pound dumbbells, I could hear the sneers from the muscles around me. I looked around, and, of course, nobody was looking at me. I picked up the weights, stared myself dead in the mirror, lifted my back up straight, and started ringing the damn bell, just as instructed. Again and again.
Weeks later, I approached my first machine like it was a painting at the Whitney that Time Out New York told me mattered. I studied it, trying to figure out where my legs went and how this was all supposed to work. Another dart of my eyes to make sure nobody was looking. Somebody was! Ya know what, God love me for trying, God love me for getting on this machine and moving whatever small amount of weight my muscles could manage. I'm so defensive. I love it. Upon completion of a few machines, I hung up my very sweaty towel and decided to call it a day. I went home, mixed some weird strawberry powder into water, and sucked down my first protein shake. I have never felt like so much of a man, I could practically cry... er... go and lift more weights.
It wasn't long before the newness wore off and the hunger games (literal, not literary) began to grow in my stomach, making me question whether Miranda was right and the glazed doughnut was worth being fat over. I called my friend and insisted that he start accompanying me to the gym. He's incredibly more muscular than I (go figure) and fueled me with motivation and by calling me things like "faggot bitch" when I whined.
The other day I looked in the mirror, and without flexing, I actually saw a muscle. Alarmed, I called my roommate into the bathroom for a second opinion. Sure enough, it was a baby muscle. With a little help from my very own chiseled Mr. Miyagi, I had said "no" to Miranda's glazed doughnut and "hello" to a kettlebell. I decided to blame myself for being fat, instead of Kirstie Alley. I blame my friend for the muscle. McDonald's, it's not that I don't love you, but I'm looking to invest in something a little more long-term.
I'm not going to Dr. Oz on you. Hell, I'd rather that you be fat. But do yourself a slim solid and ask yourself if you're really happy.