A fat woman’s life is a series of wake up calls she fails to answer. From the jangle of shooting pains from her permanently twisted ankles, to the sound of her money being sucked down the drain of an endless weight-loss racket, she ignores the signals—sometimes until it’s too late.
My most important call came as an invitation to write for Cosmopolitan magazine, which both thrilled and terrified me. At fifty pounds overweight, I was a poster child for the anti-Cosmo girl.
For years, no matter what I tried, I failed. I joined and left Weight Watchers three times. I chugged Slim-Fast shakes, ate pounds of bacon on Atkins, and shuddered through the don’t-leave-home cabbage soup plan. Of course I lost weight, hundreds of pounds. I gained every ounce and more back. A doctor friend suggested MediFast. He swore by it, even as his belly pushed through his white lab coat.
I ate nothing but protein, everything but protein, and swallowed eat-anything-and-still-lose diet pills. My only nutritional expertise was the talent to turn a healthy 500-calorie meal into a 3,000-calorie binge.
Every fatty has a secret stash of junk food. I had several. Although I took the candy dish off my desk at my day job, I simply transferred the candy to the back of the bottom drawer. At home, I had a cache of Hershey Miniatures pushed under a stack of papers on the floor of my office. My purse always held an assortment of munchies. Under the maps and assorted change in the car’s console, I’d buried a bag of peanuts or a box of Junior Mints.
If no one sees you eat, it doesn’t count as much. It’s easier to lie to yourself when there are no witnesses. I justified hiding the food because I didn’t want to have to listen to another lecture, well-meant or not. What I really didn’t want was to have to be accountable for what I was doing to my body and my health.
So I became a stealth eater, and nearly the size of a stealth bomber. When the stash under my desk at home was empty, I would sneak into the kitchen and raid the pantry. I gnawed six-month-stale Halloween candy that had fallen out of the bag and lay forgotten on the back of a shelf.
I began to notice other fatties stuffing French fries in their faces while sitting on a bus bench. Or squeezed into one side of a booth for two, thighs oozing off the edge, as they shoveled down a hot-fudge-covered brownie with ice cream. Sometimes they had a porky partner along. More often, they were alone. We were kindred fools sliding down the buttered slope to self-destruction.
There were days when I’d panic because, for a moment, I would wake up and see the damage I was doing. Then I’d swear off food just like I’d done a thousand times before, and for a couple of days or a week, I’d lay off the junk. It never lasted long enough to make a real difference.
By the time I received the invitation from Cosmo, I’d settled into that steady five-to-ten-pounds-a-year climb to triple-X tent dresses. You might ask who cares if you’re fat. At that instant, I cared so much that would have given anything to be thin—for about five seconds. Then the fat fog kicked in. I flicked off the message and headed for the cafeteria at my day job.
“The regular, Hazel?” the overweight server behind the counter asked.
“Yes,” I replied. I was glad she was there because every fat person knows that you get bigger portions if another fattie’s dishing them. She placed a huge apple fritter on a plate and handed it to me. Then I got a cup of coffee with cream and sugar.
Under any kind of stress, I reached for food like a drunk reaches for booze. Anything that was sugary or greasy was the temporary fix I used to dull the emotions I couldn’t face. There’s a good reason it’s called comfort food. For about thirty seconds, the mouthful of the dessert or the mashed potatoes or the cheese-laden casserole warmed me, both physically and emotionally. As soon as I swallowed the bite, the glow faded and I had to shove another forkful in my face, and then another and another until I was so stuffed with food that I couldn’t feel anything but food. The guilt set in as soon as I’d hogged down that fried fritter mess.
I’ll start dieting tomorrow.
Swearing off food was easy when I was stuffed, and tomorrow is always the day.
Staring me right in the face was a chance to write the most well-known astrology column for the most successful women’s magazine on the planet. What did I do? Rush for the worst thing I could eat.
When the editor at Cosmo called, she was easy to talk to and sounded young. As we chatted, I imagined her sitting at her desk, designer jacket hanging on the back of her chair, designer coffee steaming in a designer cup. I sat at my desk shaking like a druggie needing a fix.
She offered the job. I accepted. Although my personal food fight was far from over, this time I’d snapped awake, and somewhere in the middle of my brain a switch flipped. That was the beginning.
With the mouth of a Gemini, the soul of a Pisces, and an intuitive Aquarius Moon, Hazel can nail anyone’s personality the moment she knows their birthday. She’s been teaching and practicing astrology for more than twenty-five years, and is the author of the internationally best-selling Rotten Day humorous astrology book series. Her just-released book, Harness Astrology’s Bad Boy, is about Pluto, the planet of transformation. She can be reached through her website, www.hazeldixoncooper.com and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/hazel.dixoncooper. Hazel loves to hear from her fans around the world and personally answers each message.