By Bob Merrick
Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely true'although some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?
Part One: Resolutions and Commitment
It was five minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve. I could hear my heart thumping in my chest like a steel drum. The clock was rapidly ticking toward the moment that signifies how you will spend your next year. A stupid tradition in theory, but suddenly so significant as I glanced around the Hollywood Hills party I was attending, realizing I had no one to kiss. Sure, I could have lunged at Macaulay Culkin, who happened to be on my left, or across the room to Janice Dickinson, who could've swallowed me whole with her large mouth, but neither option seemed at all fulfilling. All I could think to myself was, 'This wasn't supposed to be how I was going to ring in 2005.'
One year earlier, I had made a promise to myself that I would lose some weight and look fabulous for my 30th birthday in June. I was confident that by looking fabulous, I would also find myself a boyfriend, get a new job, discover eternal happiness, and possibly create world peace. It seemed perfectly logical to me. When I pictured myself waiting for the ball to drop into 2005, I imagined me, in my new well-cared-for body standing next to a man eager to kiss me and to commit to a lifetime of love and romance. I was obviously drunk on New Year's Eve 2003, because it's just not the way my 2004 turned out.
To be fair, I did lose 30 pounds by my birthday in June, but the day after my blowout party, my spirit was deflated. Chalk it up to post-party depression. So I paid a visit to my number one fan and supporter. My friend who loves me unconditionally and gets me through all of my life moments: food. The chicken fingers with bleu cheese from Dalt's, the French onion soup from Doughboys, and vats of ranch dressing. I could eat a fried tennis shoe as long as there was ranch dressing available.
I ate my way through July and August thinking I would gain control by the fall. By November, my joke had become that I was training for Thanksgiving. Turns out the joke was on me because not only did I reclaim the dreaded 30 pounds I had lost, but I added even more, bringing my 6'3' frame to an all-time high of 295 pounds. I am one Big Mac away from 300 pounds. A number that is as frightening to my mind as it is to my heart. According to my doctor, my weight should be in the 195-200 pound range, a weight I haven't known since the early '90s.
But back to New Year's. My friends began pairing up for the countdown. I was rapidly feeling like I was in the 4th grade again when no one wanted me on their team in P.E. Where I would be chosen last, usually after the kid in the wheelchair. Everyone began to chant backward from 10. With each shout, I hoped I would just pass out like Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married and wake up 10 years earlier. And then one of my dearest friends, Wendy, a vivacious film producer who looks like she belongs in front of the camera instead of behind it, leaned in and said, 'Happy New Year,' giving me my midnight kiss. Sure, it was a girl, but it was a special kiss nonetheless. It gave me a reprieve for the night. More importantly, it set the ball in motion.
The next morning, I woke up in my pajamas and spent the day alone with my thoughts. Something I haven't done in months, thanks to my job as an assistant at a film studio and an overactive social life. I realized that it was time to put down the Ding Dongs and face the fact that the once-a-month I go out dancing at the local club Fubar doesn't count as exercise.
I walked into the kitchen of my small Hollywood apartment and with a heavy heart said goodbye to the foods that brought me comfort and made me fat. With the same anguish as Dorothy saying goodbye to the Scarecrow, I audibly whimpered, 'I'm gonna miss you most of all, Rosemary Olive Bread. So fluffy inside with your salty crust.' I actually felt a tear form in the corner of my eye as I discarded all of my pasta. 'So long, Family Pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. You'll always be one of my favorite post-Christmas clearance purchases.' As the final bag of chips hit the trash can, I felt a sense of empowerment mixed with grief.
On Sunday morning, I begrudgingly woke up early and headed for the gym. Hard to believe it had been six months since my last visit. Well, not so hard when I realized none of my gym clothes fit. My once baggy shirt now fit like a sausage skin and my sweat pants suddenly took on a spandex-like appearance. I couldn't believe I was going out in public like that, so I just pretended I was Mr. Incredible discovering his super suit no longer fit. Some diligent work on the treadmill and I would be ready to fight crime in no time at all.
I walked like a hamster on that conveyor belt contraption for the longest 30 minutes of my life. Thank God for my mp3 player and the Black Eyed Peas. By the time I got off, my face was as red as a tomato and my outfit was officially glued to my body with sweat. I actually found a way to look worse leaving than arriving. I had intended to spend the day being productive: grocery shopping, laundry, and, should I be so brave, a haircut. But I couldn't get off the couch. My legs throbbed and my body collapsed. I hadn't known that kind of exhaustion since the time I tried to run a marathon after a night of pizza and beer. Or maybe it was after a marathon of pizza and beer.
Later that afternoon, as I dusted off my copy of The South Beach Diet, I realized the journey ahead was not going to be an easy one, but if I could stick to it, it would be incredibly worthwhile. My goal is to have my mind and heart in a space where, with or without a boyfriend next New Year's Eve, I will want to kiss me. The mere thought of Janice Dickinson's puckered lips should certainly prove frightening enough to keep me on track.