Love Handles: Chapter Nine


By Bob Merrick 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 Nine: Old Habits Die Hard

Late last spring I turned on Oprah and watched Wynonna Judd have a breakdown and a 'come-to-Jesus' moment with her weight. She had finally decided that after hitting rock bottom (which involved a very public DUI) she would turn to our pop savior'and millions of viewers'to hold her accountable and keep her on track. I sat in front of the TV, polishing off a bag of chips and thinking, Good on her. With the support of Oprah and her audience, I bet I too could finally get rid of the weight that tortures me daily. If memory serves, the chips were followed by a handful of cookies from Mrs. Fields.

A couple of months later she was back on the show with only 12 pounds lost, ready to throw in the towel. I couldn't believe it. If she couldn't lose weight with the guilt inflicted by the general TV watching world and encouragement from thousands of fans, how could an emotional eater like me ever find hope?

I didn't understand how she had slid back down with so much holding her up, until this past weekend. The day after my last weigh-in, where I discovered I had successfully lost 35 pounds since January 1st, I headed to Chicago, coincidentally for a trip to be in the audience of Oprah. I was off with my magnificent Aunt Heidi and six of her most fun gal pals. I thought I had experienced the ultimate in gay, until I found myself prancing through Chi-town with the ladies in our matching homemade scarves that read 'Oprah.'

Because it was deemed a vacation, it was easy to justify experiencing the food of the city. 'How can you come to Chicago and not experience the original deep-dish stuffed pizza?' chided my Aunt Heidi, wanting me to indulge and have fun. I can still feel arteries clogging just from its mention. Internally, I felt this palpable pressure that if I had ordered only salads and Diet Coke, I would have ruined their trip. So for three days, we ate, drank, and took Chicago by storm. To be fair, I did make it down to the hotel gym early one afternoon.

Three days of gluttony wouldn't have been that big of a deal had I rolled up my sleeves upon my return to Los Angeles and regained my focus. Unfortunately, the old devil was perched back on my shoulder whispering in my ear, 'I will get back on the program tomorrow''thereby giving myself 'one more cheat day,' which like any drop in the bucket began to add up. Before I knew it, my 'one more day' became a full week littered with Big Macs, fettuccine with sun-dried tomatoes, and my reinserted I.V. drip of ranch dressing. This could've been the turning point that would have tossed me back down to my rock bottom. But this time, I wasn't going to throw in the towel.

I think about food as often as a teenage boy thinks about sex. It is an addiction, and I need to start treating it as such. I am responsible for my body and for the food I put in it, but I also need to get to the root of my issues. This is not easy. I love when you hear a campaign like Slimfast, which makes it sound so simple. They recommend a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner. If I could eat sensibly, I wouldn't need Slimfast to begin with.

For the record, when I say food, I mean anything I can eat. It doesn't even have to be cupcakes and French fries. I obsess over how many Atkins bars I can have without feeling sick. Offering me a slice of birthday cake or a side of mac and cheese is no different than offering an alcoholic a glass of wine with dinner. Most people can stop with one glass, but when you are addicted, your mind continues to crave and obsess about it until you give it more. Obviously the main difference between food addiction and alcoholism is that you need to eat; you don't need to swill booze (although some of my friends might disagree). I need to reprogram my mind so that I don't find myself putting the weight back on down the line.

Also in need of constant reinvention is my exercise regime, which has become monotonous these last few weeks. I got online and looked at the Web site for my gym, 24 Hour Fitness, and found out they offer a hip-hop class on Monday nights. I called my pal Adam from last week's 'circle date' and begged him to join me with a guest pass.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Either our instructor just got off tour with Usher or he was Usher himself because it didn't feel like we were there to exercise, but to audition. I thought it would be a fun, aerobic class with a hip-hop infusion. Instead, it was more like a dance class, and before I knew it, we were popping and locking like a dancer in a Justin Timberlake video. Well, he was popping and locking, with only a few of the students following along to the obnoxious Ciara song that must've played 100 times over the course of the class. I found myself backing into the corner feeling like I was the whitest dancer this side of the Mississippi.

Luckily there was a really hunky guy in the class who looked like he belonged on a baseball field, not on stage with *NSYNC. In spite of his gruff appearance, he definitely had the moves, which was the dangling carrot I needed to get me through the class. I didn't want him to think I couldn't handle getting hot and sweaty.

Determined to not be humiliated or intimidated by the Wade Robson dance moves, Adam decided to just act a fool, embracing his honky white roots. He danced with full abandon while harrassing me for signing him up during every water break.

'I don't want you to ever question my friendship with you again,' he growled at me through clenched teeth. I was proud of him for making the most of a very uncomfortable situation. After a full hour, we had only been taught one piece of a routine. Even if I'd had three hours, I still wouldn't have picked up the moves.

With the Ciara song still two-stepping through my brain when I got home, I needed its antithesis to get it out of my head. So I dug out Wynonna's Greatest Hits CD and played 'Rock Bottom' as loud as I could without the neighbors complaining. Like she sings, 'When you hit rock bottom / you've got two ways to go / straight up and sideways.' I'm determined, against my own odds and my prior failures, to go straight up.

To read part eight, 'Taking A Fresh Dip in the Dating Pool,' click here.

To read part seven, 'A Walk Down (Unpleasant) Memory Lane,' click here.

To read part six, 'Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures,' click here.

To read part five, 'Sex, Lies, and the Internet,' click here.

To read part four, 'Sweatin' with an Oldie' But Goodie,' click here.

To read part three, 'What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Always Stay in Vegas,' click here.

To read part two, 'Let's Get Physical,' click here.

To read part one, 'Resolutions and Commitment,' click here.