The Dreaded D

by Carol Hess on April 29, 2011

“I can’t hear you!  I can’t hear you!  I can’t hear you!” 

Little Carol claps her hands over her ears, stomps her feet up and down, and screams at me, “You can’t make me!” 

She’s absolutely right.  I can’t.  I can’t make her eat the broccoli I’ve been so busy telling her is yummy, yummy, yummy. Once Little Carol is triggered, that’s that.  There is no reasoning with her.  She categorically refuses to do anything I want her to do.  

Eat that nice, crisp, bright green piece of broccoli?  Fat chance.  (Fat being the operative word.)  Slurp that smoothie that was a pretty lavender until I added the spinach and made it look like – well – sludge?  No way, José.

I can’t fool Little Carol.  She knows when the Dreaded D has invaded our happy little home.  No matter what I call it – a food program, a plan of eating, a menu – she knows when we’re on the Dreaded Diet. 

We’ve been on one too many of them, she and I.  No matter what I promise her this time – the most beautiful party dress in the store, the coolest little boy to play with, her very own 2-story playhouse  – Little Carol isn’t falling for it.  She knows (1) the diet won’t work and (2) she won’t get what she wants.

No more diets!  No more deprivation!  No more delusions!  (I seem to be fixated on d-words today.)

Little Carol is fed up with my bullshit and, quite frankly, so am I. 

Before I can figure out what I’m going to do about this disillusionment of ours (another d-word, really Carol?), Little Carol starts talking.

“We gained a pound.  Your stupid old diet isn’t working.  Forget the diet.  I want chocolate!  I want cookies!  I want a McDonald’s double cheeseburger with fries.  And don’t forget the Coke.  Oh, make that a Diet Coke because, after all, you’re on a DIET!”

That last word is screamed so loud, it’s my turn to clap both hands over my ears.  But it doesn’t help.  I can still hear Little Carol chanting over and over and over, “Chocolate, cookies, cheeseburger, fries, DIET coke.  Chocolate, cookies, cheeseburger, fries, DIET coke.  Chocolate, cookies, cheeseburger, fries, DIET . . . ”

“All right!” I scream.  “I give up!”

I grab my purse and run out the door, car keys in hand.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  My history.  Our history.  The scenario that plays out, sooner or later, every single time I put myself and Little Carol on the Dreaded Diet.

Diets don’t work.  Restricting doesn’t work.  Deprivation doesn’t work.  White knuckling it, keeping a death grip on the reins of control, beseeching the gods of willpower and self discipline – none of it works.

At least not in the long term.  And, since I’ve got over a hundred pounds to lose, we are definitely talking long term.

Even if I lose all the weight, I know what will happen.  I will put it all back on again.  How do I know?  Because one time I lost 90 pounds and stayed at that weight for about thirty seconds before I started gaining it all back again plus more.  Gain, lose, gain back more — a 3-step dance.  The Weight Watcher’s Waltz.  The Diet Deprivation Dance.  The I Can’t Keep Doing This Can Can. 

The Diet Dance doesn’t work no matter how often I change the music or my dance partner. 

I’ve got to find another solution. 

(Smell of burning wood as I think.) 

Hmm.  Could it work?  Maybe.

I’m a more kind of gal.  If one is good, two is better, and three’s the best of all.  Less is most definitely not more in my book.  More is more in my book. 


I’ve been focusing on the part of the glass that’s empty.  On what I can’t have.  What about concentrating on the part of the glass that’s full?  On what I can have?

I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to play out, but I think I might be on to something.  Little Carol is quiet.  This is a good sign.

by Carol Hess


Categories The Mind Game, Weight Loss

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Monica Dennis April 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

First of all, phew! I saw your title pop up in my email and my eyes went wide. My day job is working for a diabetes company. So when you said “D,” I got nervous. Thank God it’s not that D. :-)

::Breath of relief::

Now (long story to follow) that darn diet. Screw that. (It’s not the Christian way to talk. I know it. God knows it. It’s as close as I can get to the other word and I am guilty of going there when I let my temper rule me.) I was an average sized kid. I was plus sized in high school, though at the bottom end of that scale. I refused to diet because I knew about the yo-yo and didn’t want to get trapped. I was about 24 when I first made a concerted effort to lose weight just to see if I could do it. Took me about 5 months to drop 20 pounds all by my lonesome and I was cool with it, but as you know, it takes nothing to gain back. I got to see what everyone who is on this stupid ride knows – if you’re not careful, you gain it ALL back, plus some. But I was cool. I didn’t try again – with professional help next time – until…..(let me think) right before I was going to get married at age 30. Gave me a goal and got me back to high school size.

ASIDE: Isn’t it funny how the weight you hated some past time now looks like nirvana?

So, let’s see. We were out of order. I had our first child when I was 29. Sometime about 3 years into my marriage I went back for the same professional help to try one more time to lose weight. (This is me trying NOT to let that freaking yo-yo win, so you see how I space this stuff out.) Now, let me step back a sec to say the first time I did it with pro help is when I really learned that:

1 – water works wonders for my weight. When I drink what I should, what I eat isn’t nearly as permanent. This works for ME. Not saying this is what everyone should do.
2 – The doctors’ weight charts suck. (Shoot. Still not great language. I know.) I am a black girl and you better believe that weight stuff works differently in our culture than in some others. THEY say I should weigh about 145 for my height of 5′ 8. I say I’d look anorexic! I learned MY ideal is more like 170, baby. And I am NOT plus sized at that weight, so there, you so called experts! Oh and FYI, aside for the eczema I was born with, I did not develop my first health problem until last year. My blood pressure and all that is enviable.

OK, back to round 2. I was able to get to within 5 pounds of goal weight so I could then learn how to maintain this marvelous weight loss. Sigh. Then I got pregnant with baby #2.

Carol, I got off the ride at that point. I went about my life and did what I wanted and knew I needed to try to get back in control, but you know it’s a mindset and it’s work and you have to be willing and ready to work. I’m 40 now. As of Sept last year, I learned my gallbladder will have to go but it has not attacked me and the right foods will help keep it that way until I am good and ready to let them take it. (Yes. I know it’s a risk. But my medical history is only as exciting as 2 c-sections. I’m not chomping at the bit to go lose an organ.) The more weight I lose, the better. So, the 64 ounces of water finally came back and they stay because this is just a choice I made and when I don’t drink it all that day, I say “eh” and start fresh the next day.

I got back on my treadmill, which I always loved but time, family, a job and a business made it hard to do. I do that or the Wii Fit and lost 17 pounds between Sept and January. My treadmill is actually 11 years old and finally gave up on me. I need something new so now I’m not exercising like I did. I will. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel anxious. It’s something I like anyway so it will come back. The goal? Just maintain the loss for now and if I lose more – albeit slower – cool! BUT NO PRESSURE. Just make the best choices I can at the time I need to make the choice. Choose soups way more often. When I want something, I eat it. But I try to remind myself to be reasonable because I do like me smaller, I admit.

I will weigh myself. It’s in my phone as a reminder actually. But only every 3 weeks at the moment. No more often than that because it’s just to keep me from going off the deep end because it is too, too easy to do that. And from January to now, with no extra exercise and doing the rest I’ve been doing, I have been the same number. Sure, I’ll get another machine or finally start walking again outside now that it’s warmer. (My daughter will love that.) Knowing me, another burst of energy will pop up and I’ll do something that will make me lose more weight and then I’ll probably hang out there awhile until I’m ready to go lower.

I just want to be my own best friend and stop criticizing me, you know? I want to do what’s in my own best interest, and give myself room to not care for a day. I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out and when i choose not to do something, to know it’s a choice, not a diet. I’m hoping to get to that point where I no longer even secretly whisper to myself in the back of my mind, “You know this is kinda like dieting, right?” Because that’s not what I am aiming for. All I am aiming for is allowing my 40-year-old self to be the best I can and to express the real version of myself and to be happy with whatever I am doing. I want to sacrifice by choice only. I think I’ve earned that. I also don’t want neurotic kids so I encourage them to move, we do talk about what they eat (my husband and his family do have the D I was referring to, so this is for the sake of not developing that too.). We don’t focus on body stuff much otherwise. INstead we try to get them to move for fun, eat because it’s good. My daughter loves fruits and veggies so we run with it. They have years ahead to beat themselves up if they want. They don’t need me to do it. My son already does, unfortunately. (That’s another story.)

That’s the end of my story. I am going to go grab my friend and go for a walk outside now. Thanks for giving me a place to share all that with you. :-)


avatar Carol Hess May 1, 2011 at 4:03 am

Hallelujah, Monica! You are a sensible woman with a sensible attitude toward food and weight and exercise and self care that you are passing on to your children. Good for you! (And, yes, I would kill to weigh what I used to consider “fat.”)

I agree with your opinion of the weight charts. When I was in college, I was 5’7″ and weighed 145 and was told to GAIN weight. I laughed until my roommates made me look in the mirror and turn sideways. I disappeared. I really do have big bones — but nobody believes me! :(

I think the black culture is much more reasonable about weight than the white culture. I was in a support group for women who wanted to lose weight, and the black women had much less shame and fewer body issues than the white women. I was really envious of them. I knew I was pretty much nuts when it came to weight and body image, and it was obvious they weren’t.

I had one gall bladder attack many years ago. They wanted to yank it out, and I said absolutely not — not with just one attack and no prior history. The surgeon was not pleased with me and told me I would be back to see him within 6 months. That was 6 years ago, and I haven’t had another attack since. I did a lot of reading about the subject and discovered that gall bladders get yanked way too quickly and way too often in this country. So if you can hang on to your gall bladder and keep it healthy by how you eat, then by all means do so, Monica!

“I just want to be my own best friend and stop criticizing me.” At the risk of repeating myself, Hallelujah! Could you package up some of your balanced, sane, self-loving attitude and send it on to me? I’m going to keep coming back and reading your words of wisdom, Monica. Thank you SO much for sharing them with us.


avatar Monica Dennis May 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for sharing that about your gall bladder, Carol. I really needed to hear that because I told the surgeon that I would lose some weight first, get some other answers as to some odd sensations I’m having and I’ll be back eventually. He wasn’t exactly pressuring me either so I figure it’s up to me. I got my answers. Seems I do have some mild irritation in my stomach. I take Nexium for now and just kinda watch and feel. I was thinking maybe I could do this before my brother’s wedding in July, but I’m still not feeling ready to let it go. So I wait and watch. Knowing that you went to what they would surely say is the brink and came back gall bladder intact is really good to know. I think I’ll MAYBE do it, but I’m not rushing. 😉


avatar Carol Hess May 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I got tonsilitis on a frequent basis when I was in college, so much so that the doc wanted to yank my tonsils during my senior year. My mother, an RN, said no way. FIrst of all, she wasn’t about to let a college doctor tell her anything medical. (She was a Johns Hopkin’s nurse and a medical snob.)

Second, she wanted to be sure I had it done at home where she personally could nurse me afterward. She said recuperation as an adult from a tonsillectomy could be tricky — there was always a chance I would begin hemorrhaging. (Sometimes my mother told me way more than I wanted to know!)

So she decided I would have the operation the summer after I graduated, when I would be back living at home until I left to make my way in the big wide world that fall.

So I get home, and Mom informs me that she has cancelled the operation. We had a familiy wedding coming up, and Mom wanted to be sure we didn’t miss it became of some stupid operation/recuperation.

Besides, she was of the opinion that you didn’t just casually remove the first barrier to infection that she believed tonsils represented. She also had a feeling that, once I started eating healthy again (meaning her food and not snacks out of dorm vending machines) and getting to bed at a reasonable hour instead of studying and partying to all hours of the night (less of the former and more of the latter in my case!), that my recurrent tonsilitis would disappear.

Turns out she was right. I never had another bout of tonsilitis, and I still have my tonsils many years later.

That experience is what gave me the fortitude to push back on the gall bladder surgeon and not listen to his alarmist tactics. And I’m glad I did.

But of course you need to figure out what is best for you. I suspect you know how to listen to your body’s wisdom, Monica, and make your decisions accordingly. If my mother were alive today, she would definitely urge you to put your brother’s wedding first and your surgery second! :)


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