First, at any given point in my life, I am always doing one of two things. No matter if you catch me at 2 a.m. on the morning on January 6, 1994, or on a lazy afternoon on September 29, 2013, you will find me in one of the following states. Either:
1. I am on a diet; or
2. I am gaining weight.
There is no other possible situation that I might be in. I’ve heard rumor that some people have a third state of being, some sort of made-up term called “maintaining the same healthy weight over a prolonged period of time,” but I’m pretty sure that’s a myth, like unicorns or dragons.
Now that we’ve established the two possible states of being, let’s look at the sub-groups of dieting.
1. The “I’ve Just Started My Diet” Phase
This is when you’ve just made the mental and financial commitment to follow a regimented eating plan. Already doesn’t sound fun, right? You will turn in to a whiny brat during this phase. You will always be hungry. You will develop homicidal feelings towards those who eat real food in front of you, and start making serious plans to end their French-fry-filled lives. You suspect that if you bury them in the back yard, it would count as exercise, and will get you closer to your goal. You will stare at your plate heaped with boneless chicken breast grilled in a garlic mustard sauce, fresh steamed cauliflower, and a half-cup of savory rice pilaf, and think “That’s it? That’s ALL I get?” You will weep. Copiously.
2. The “Thanks, But No Thanks” Phase
This is the stage at which your stomach has shrunk a little from starvation, and you’re starting to get in the groove of things. You turn down cake at work or cookies at your mother’s house because you can tell just by looking at these fabulous, sugary drops of heaven that they're not worth the calories. You smugly measure out your eleven Doritos (yup, that’s how much one serving is) and pretend to be satisfied. You are not.
3. The “People Are Starting to Notice” Phase
Probably the best phase of the dieting cycle, this is when your family and coworkers will start to notice your weight loss efforts. Your skinny friends (if you didn't kill and bury them in Phase 1) may start to offer you their hand-me-downs. It will feel good. You will start to believe you could possibly maintain this healthy eating lifestyle change for the rest of your life. That’s right: you will begin to tell yourself outrageous lies.
4. The “I’ve Had Just About Enough of This Lettuce Crap” Phase
You know this feeling. You’ve been dieting for months, and sure, you look good, but do you feel good? No. You feel like the only thing that will ever truly make you happy again is a Reese’s peanut butter cup sundae. Sure, your pants fit better, but your soul needs fat. It’s withering away. You have to—you must—feed it. Chocolate. Now.
Sadly, I’m in this fourth phase right now. I’m only four pounds away from my goal, but I must admit, I’ve had just about enough of this lettuce crap. I managed to stay on my diet today, but only because the vending machine at work is temporarily out of order. I can’t promise I’ll still be on it tonight. I pass at least two Friendly’s restaurants on my drive home from work, and the siren call of a peanut butter cup sundae might be too strong to resist. Today, I am on a diet. Tomorrow, I’ll be gaining weight again.