How to Ensure Your Diet Will Fail

Hi, my name is Abby, and I hogged the chocolate layer cake my mother served on Christmas Eve.

I’m so glad we’ve gotten that out of the way.

If you’re anything like me, New Year’s resolutions make perfect sense. They’re the wiping-the-slate-clean, I’ll-do-better-this-time kick-off to, well, a new year. After twelve months of inevitably not excelling in at least one aspect of your life, you have the opportunity to embrace the shortfall and plant a flag in it. If you think I’m tolerable now, wait until I start doing that thing I just spent 365 days NOT doing! A New Year’s resolution is the height of optimism, and if you can’t start the year off with a sunny disposition about yourself, well, then…Hello? Giggle!

As you may have guessed from my introductory confessional, one of my New Year’s resolutions involves exerting more self-control when it comes to my food choices and aiming in the general direction of eating healthy. I’m guessing some of you may have resolved to do something similar. I’m also guessing that I am not alone when I further confess that I’ve set this goal for myself for several years.

The better eating thing never quite seems to take.

But I am a giver, and today I give you the gift of learning from my mistakes. Today I will give you ten ways to ensure that your diet – however you devise or describe it – will fail. Today I will give you instructions that you should follow, only to the extent you do the exact opposite of what I am about to tell you. Assuming, of course, you want to be successful in your resolution to fill your belly with more actual fish and less Swedish Fish.

I am not a doctor, and reading the nutrition facts on the side of a box of food makes me wonder if I actually did graduate from college. The last time I could be described as “in shape” was when I ran a timed mile during gym class in the mid-’90s. I had my youngest child 15 months ago and I could still be mistaken for pregnant (first trimester-ish).

Therefore, I am entirely qualified to provide these instructions.

Abby’s Guide to Ensuring Your Diet Will Fail

1. Eat very little throughout the day, so that you’re absolutely starving by dinner. By doing this, you’ll be so out of your mind with hunger that you will eat whatever you see first when you walk through the door. Even if that thing is a stick of butter.

2. Buy treats, but tell yourself they’re “for the kids” or “for your husband/partner/roommate.” This is the best way to ensure that tasty food is inside your house, but you don’t feel guilty when you are in the process of bringing it into that house. You save that guilt for 11:30PM when you find yourself with an empty box of Late July Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers and a pile of crumbs in your lap.

3. Stock your closet and bureau with elastic waist-banded clothing. It’s lying to yourself, but with pants and skirts instead of sentences and paragraphs.

4. Test the limits of exaggeration. If you eat one doughnut, tell yourself the day is shot so you might as well eat six more. If you didn’t make it to the gym yesterday, reassure yourself there’s absolutely no point in going today. If you have a drink at dinner, might as well have one with dessert.

5. Set your alarm clock for an insanely early hour and tell yourself you will spring awake and go exercise when the buzzing starts. In setting unrealistic expectations about your ability to awaken and your willingness to move energetically when you do, you guarantee that you will sleep through the alarm and barely make it out the door in time for work. You will then rush through your day, finding no time for the gym but plenty of time for sugar-bingeing when the fatigue sets in around 3PM.

6. Construct a rewards system centered entirely around food. Bad day? Eat some chips! Got promoted? Hamburger and fries! Stopped to buy gas? Get yourself a Snickers!

7. Think about food, all the time. By obsessing about food, including what you’ve just eaten and what you’re about to eat, you’ll ensure that the thing you’re trying to get control over will have complete control over you.

8. Avoid yourself at all costs. Don’t look in mirrors. Hide from pictures. Never step on a scale. The goal is to live in a state of willful blindness. That way, you’ll never know if you’re driving yourself unnecessarily nuts with your daily War on Weight or if you need to be taking some serious action in Battling the Bulge.

9. Develop your belief in osmosis. Then buy the magazines Self, Shape, Fitness, and Women’s Health every month. It is important you buy them all, and every month. Read the articles, dog-ear the pages on Easy Ways to Fight Arm Flab! and Most Efficient 3-Minute Cardio Workout Ever!. Allow the magazines to stack up next to your bed. Be sure a thick layer of dust gathers. Toss them in the recycling bin six months later.

10. Never ask for help. By asking for help, you’re essentially admitting that you want to succeed where you haven’t before. That kind of attitude is for winners.

Now, go not do everything I’ve said!

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