Losing It

When friends said they knew a woman they wanted me to meet, one who was just right for a relationship, I said no. No more relationships, and certainly not with a woman.

    But they insisted this woman was different. She too had been around the block and knew the type of man she was looking for. And I was the one, they said; definitely the one.

   So I agreed to one date. Odd that it was at 10:30 in the morning in Simsbury, but what the heck. We could talk over coffee and end it quickly if there was no magic. But magic there was, and seduction and promises of a golden, but lean, future.

   Of course, she said, she would be seeing other men — and women, too. But I had to be faithful from day one. And she wasn’t going to be a cheap date, either. But after dating her for a while, I would be a new man, look and feel better and probably be happier. But I’m happy now, I said. Not as happy as I can make you, big guy, the siren promised.

  And so began my affair with Jenny. Jenny Craig. As in queen of weight loss and diet centers.

   She’s Australian.  Started her business with her husband (yes, I’m seeing a married woman) in 1983 with the simple notion of offering weight reduction counseling and prepared foods to the fat people of Australia yearning to be thin again — or for the first time — in a structured program that anyone who can read could follow.

   On our first date (well, actually Jenny herself couldn’t make it; probably busy spending the money she got from selling her business to Nestle four years ago,) her acolytes Jill and Brenda asked me to fill out a simple questionnaire, give them my family doctor’s phone number so they could let her know what I was up to, and tell them my weight-loss goal (I’ll keep that secret.) Then they explained the program.

    Every week I get a preprinted sheet of daily menus, each adding up to 1,500 calories until I reach a lower-weight plateau, when I drop to 1,200 calories. I eat six times a day: three main meals, three snacks. I buy frozen and dry entrees, prepared snacks — gooey peanut and chocolate bars, cinnamon twists, bruschetta veggie chips (all good) and little pumpkin or lemon muffins (not so hot.) There are cereal and pancakes and omelets (mostly good) and awful French toast. Delicious Mexican beans and rice, Chinese dishes, lasagna; limp and tasteless tomato pasta (but with good meatballs.)

   And I fill in with my own foods: non-fat milk (once or twice a day,) low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt (one or the other each day,) fresh vegetables and fruit, salad spinach and greens, but Jenny’s own salad dressing.

   Expensive? Depends. The lifetime membership fee with a sponsor (a riff on the old member-get-a-member marketing tool) is reasonable for the fat-longing-to-be-thin, I think. The Jenny food is fairly expensive, especially when combined with required supermarket purchases. But, again, what price thin?

   So each day I follow the preprinted menu, cook my fresh vegetables, eat my fresh apples or pears (very small ones count as one of three fruit requirements a day,) cook fresh vegetables (mostly broccoli, cauliflower and haricots verts – yes, I can still be pretentious on a diet) drink my milk and eat my vanilla or prune (delicious!) yogurt. And go to the gym.

   And Jenny delivers on her promise: I’m down seven pounds after three weeks.


   To be continued.

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