Introduction (with TMI)
Since I have lost about 20% of my bodyweight in 8 months without trying, I thought I would share what I know about the Misery Diet. (Consider this a public service.)
The Misery Diet is not for wusses. There’s a reason it is named such.
About two years ago, I was in a car accident that appeared to be minor. Nonetheless, I enjoyed dozens and dozens of doctor’s appointments, two surgeries, multiple prescriptions for pain pills, a walker, and what appears to be an incompetent attorney.
Since all that wasn’t enough drama, my family behaved badly including, on two occasions, suddenly dying, my significant other failed to remember who the drama queen in the relationship is, and my job got nutso. Then the stress really started. [Insert tales nobody will believe, but happened nonetheless.]
Add in an incorrigible gallbladder, menopause, financial difficulties, seasonal affective disorder, ADD, and a couple glasses of wine; stir, strain through a cheese cloth and voila! The perfect conditions for a successful Misery Diet.
One cannot just have a hang nail, a cheating spouse, or a retirement fund tanking. An effective Misery Diet must possess circumstances that even soap operas steer clear of in an effort to mimic reality. The individual situations can vary, but must be marked by a broad spectrum of disasters that little, if nothing, can be done to alleviate them save waiting out the Universe. (Chanting This Too Shall Pass won’t really help, but it’s kind of comforting.)
There is an enormous savings on groceries.
The gallbladder factor is crucial to the Misery Diet grocery savings. If stress is sufficient, even if one has previously been a stress eater, there will be a complete disinterest in food. A malfunctioning gallbladder will make it impossible to eat (or to keep food down) if bearer of the organ decides eating is necessary to keep up strength for stress battles. A truly incorrigible gallbladder does not play well with stress. Meals become a cup of green tea, a couple spoons of green beans, and the occasional boiled egg. Oatmeal is a perennial favorite. If menopause is a factor, faux morning sickness will add color and drama to the situation.
Exercise becomes more about toning flab than burning calories.
Until strength gives out from malnutrition, exercise shifts from a calorie-burning activity to a desperate effort to maintain muscle tone. It’s a losing battle, but the Misery Diet isn’t complete without the insult-to-injury of mind-numbing, repetitive exercise. Mental health professionals will insist it helps mood and physiologists insist it maintains muscle mass and bones. You can’t argue with those folks. (Well you can, but it gets you about as far down the road as a recumbent exercise bike.) There’s no aesthetic benefit to reducing one’s BMI if arm wattles sway in the breeze and thighs sag to the knees.
Archaeological excavations of closets for skinny jeans, etc. are enlightening.
As poundage slinks away, the search for something that fits is complicated by the financial difficulties inherent to an authentic Misery Diet. Buying new is out of the question. The first places to reduce in size are the places you least want to lose mass. Packrats will enjoy some walks down Memory Lane while searching for their 5th grade training bra and maternity underpants.
Packrats will further enjoy reliving their youth from the Wannabee Hippy, Disco Queen, Professional Mom, Bringing Home the Bacon and Frying It Up in the Pan, Earth Mother, Diva, and, finally, Wild-Eyed Menopausal Running with Wolves Harpie fashion eras. This aspect of the Misery Diet can be fun especially if you start mixing and matching genres and blocking out the PTSD aspects of the Misery Diet by spending hours pondering what part of sequined turtleneck with loaf-of-bread-sized shoulder pads was a good idea. Non-packrats will further accelerate stress levels by realizing a need to learn complicated sewing techniques to facilitate alteration of clothes.
Not exactly Freudian or Jungian analysis, pondering early fashion choices will, if allowed, shine a light on parts of one’s psyche better left moldering in the dark.
Nutrition needs eat up savings on groceries.
An effective Misery Diet needs months to mature. As soon as it becomes evident that this is an authentic Misery Diet, it is necessary to buy various vitamin and herbal supplements lest one’s hair fall out and eyeballs turn yellow. Hydration is also an issue and bottled water can be damned expensive. (See note about financial distress.) To add further insult, the body may occasionally agree to be hungry, but will crave only out-of-season fruit, Godiva truffles, or leg-of-lamb with imported mint chutney.
The weight loss can be considerable and becoming a flamboyant anachronistic dresser does provide some amusement. Even so, I cannot recommend this method of weight loss. Proceed with caution.