By Mort Laitner
Einstein declared me insane. I ate the same foods, in the same amounts, over and over again and expected to lose weight.
My lack of commitment appalled my friends. Discipline found no home in my stomach. My digestive track ruled over my carb-addicted brain. I had to change! As an incentive, I needed to put my money were my pie hole was. After years of failure, I decided to change the way I eat. No more gorging on cakes and cookies. No more late-night feasting on bowls of pastas or tortilla chips. No more chocolate ice cream dripping down my double chin. Proteins were in; carbs were out. Having kicked tobacco, I could drop some pounds. Then I remembered my failures, the grapefruit diet and my numerous attempts at Adkins.
Maybe a large infusion of my money into the hungry hands of a corporate weight-loss program would do the trick. Without a cursory trip to Google to find out about risks and benefits of this program or its 399 competitors, I jumped into their offices with a check burning calories in my fat wallet.
I heard a warm greeting, mouthed by a skinny bleach- blond receptionist, “Good morning. How may we help you?”
I studied this gaunt receptionist. She never new the pleasure of allowing a Twinkie to melt in her mouth. She never craved Hostess Cupcakes, Devil Dogs or Yankee Doodles. She never purchased Snowballs, Sandies or Milanos. She never lived to eat.
I drawled, “Well, I’m here to lose some weight… hopefully a whole lot of weight.”
“Well sir, you have come to the right place. We specialize on quick loss of a whole lot of weight. Look at all these before and after pictures. We plaster our success stories all over our walls, no need for wallpaper! We are so proud of what we do. We save lives. These customers lost 20, 30, 40 even 50 pounds using our scientifically-proven weight loss methods. Look at our daily black board. It shows the names of this weeks clients and how much they have lost. You could lose 3-7 pounds a week, with no hunger!”
I stared at a list of twenty-five names, next to each name appeared numbers as high as eight and as low as four. I wondered if my name would make the list. I scanned the walls for any clinical data to support their claims. Not seeing any, I remembered how many of my friends and acquaintances were in this program and had great success only to regain the weight months later. Their mantra buzzed in my ears, easy off, easy on.
“Let me call one of our counselors to introduce you to our program.”
As quickly as a jack rabbit can run into the woods, out of the reception door appeared another ectomorph. I pondered that the heavy set would have a hard time landing employment at this center.
Before she led me into her office, she asked me to stand on the scale. I was surprised. With my own will-power, I was four pounds lighter than the last time I stepped on a scale. I silently wished I could forego food as easily as I avoid scales. Memories abounded in my head of the days when a scale was not my enemy. I was sixteen and in the 120 pound class of the Fallsburgh Central High’s Comets wrestling team. Before each match, I jaunted on to the scale knowing that my metabolism and my exercise regime killed all fat cells before they stuck to my gut.
I relaxed, listened and heard her say magic numbers.
“Sir, in eighteen weeks, if you do “everything” we require, you will lose 40 pounds. For the first five days eat all the proteins you want. Don’t eat starches; drink 10 cups of water to flush out those fat cells.”
I tried Adkins before, but after a couple of days my hunger for carbohydrates caused me to surrender. As I whipped out my checkbook, in my head I calculated the cost— fifteen dollars a pound and I would get a piece of paper that guaranteed it. They were selling me their special premium package: four bottles of pills, their manual, their daily food diary, and a come-visit-as-often-as-you-want for a weigh-in and counseling.
The counselor preached, “We teach a way of life here. We do individualized weight-loss therapy, allow you to eat real food, and we don’t push extreme exercise. What else can you ask for?”
As the counselor spoke, I studied the diary’s directions. The diary required the dieter to write the name of food, amount eaten, type, and preparation. There was a checklist to remind me to take my morning, noon and evening pills. I realized the pill dropping would serve me well in old age. Ten blank boxes needed to be checked to record my water intake. In the BM section I could note my expulsion of the products I purchased. The comments section would allow me to admit my dietary sins and how I would repent. I bought the sales pitch, hook, line, and sinker.
“I’m in. Who do I make the check out to? “
“Sir, just copy the name from my business card. I’ll blow-up a copy of your check so you can post it on your refrigerator. We find this step in the diet process kills client’s appetites as they yank on their fridge’s door handle. Thanks for your check. When would you like your next appointment?” The counselor/sales lady queried.
“Miss, I’ll be back in three days.” I replied. As I walked out the center’s door my wallet seemed a whole lot lighter.
Seventy-two hours later, I arrived for my weigh-in. I stood on top of the scale, watched the digitalized numbers fly by and as they stopped I saw that I lost two pounds. Elated, I voiced a loud, “Yes”. I was pumped. I was motivated. I was going to lose more weight.
The counselor led me into a small room housing a table and four chairs. I sat idly surrounded by boxes of food items. Taped on all four walls were artfully-painted and labeled boxes of: shakes and puddings, protein bars, hot cocoa and cappuccino, pretzels, soups, fruit-flavored drinks and low-calorie salad dressing. I felt claustrophobic, as if these foods devoured me.
Two hearty souls joined me for presentation. These two late twentyish women appeared to have never forgone a meal. They appeared hopeful, as if they had now found the messiah that allows the undisciplined to be blessed with skinny bodies. One voiced that she could not afford the steep price of the program and was lead into a private room for financial counseling.
Was Albert correct– I did need therapy?