Tragedy Plus Time: When Bad Things Happen to Funny People
by Kate Tellers
For most of us Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a month and a half of consumption without borders. The ham belongs on the latke that’s dipped in eggnog and chased with a flaming shot of Jack Daniels. And then we sleep, attempt to make a living, party like it’s 1999 until we’re awoken by the harsh light of 2011 only to drag ourselves into NYSC and fight to make right with an elliptical.
Recently, though, I was convinced by a certain fitness magazine to spend a month with a personal trainer and nutritionist in a fitness makeover. The first week of this spanned the beginning of the holiday season. They had a hard deadline to make, and free things are my kryptonite. Plus, there was promise of a photo shoot with professional hair/make-up/craft services and the idea of having my re-worked self looking fit and fabulous in a magazine just a few months after a break up was too much for me to resist. So even though I’ve never met a triangle of brie I didn’t bite, I done signed myself up.
Prior to my work with these “lifestyle professionals,” I provided them with a glut of information on my diet and exercise habits. They can be boiled down as such:
THINGS I HAVE: hunger and plans
THINGS I DO NOT HAVE: time, money, patience or a working kitchen
Nutritionist suggests that I purchase and carve a chicken for dinner. This seems awfully frontier to me, specifically since I lack the knives with which to slice the bird. I purchase and eat a grilled chicken wrap and consider Day 1 a victory. I am one day closer to my close-up.
Nutritionist suggests that my late afternoon snack consist of “20 almonds.” I lack the patience to count 20 of anything and instead consume exactly one tin of mixed nuts from a holiday basket the office got in the mail. 1<20. I am mad good at this.
Nutritionist suggests “1 cup berries” with dinner. I take mine fermented and make it a double. Dieting is not so bad.
Nutritionist suggests “2 slices low fat cheese (Kraft 2% singles)” as part of my morning snack, which differ from the “½ cup low fat cottage cheese” I am to have in the afternoon, which is a departure from the “1 low fat string cheese” that I was to eat yesterday or the “3oz mozzarella” I am slated to eat tomorrow. Furthermore, none of these products can be found at “coffeebeernewspaperlottosandwiches” where I’ve been shopping thus far, so I continue my practice of discreetly biting around the mold on the square of Trader Joe’s cheddar I found in the back of the office fridge.
I also reprise the cups of berries.
Nutritionist suggests “Wheat bagel scooped w/ 1 Tbsp low fat cream cheese” (again with the lowfat cheeses). Like a Smiley Cyrus cover of a Streisand classic, throwing away the insides of a perfectly good New York bagel offends my recently crunched and planked core. I do not scoop. I will not scoop. The bagel is alright.
I also calculate that, at this point, I’ve spent close to $50 on nutritionist’s obsessively curated salads. I realize that I’ll never be able to sustain this lifestyle and cross the street for a piece of pizza WITH MUSHROOMS WHICH ARE A VEGETABLE.
Before I head out of town for Thanksgiving I’m convinced to hit the berries with my colleagues. We’re out late enough that I’m unable to track down the “6oz grilled salmon” that I am to have for dinner, so I accept one reveler’s offer to share calamari. Salmon eat squid. I’m merely cutting out the middle-man and adding a panko crust.
My nutritionist told me to “just be reasonable” but I am some one who “just needs rules” around my sister’s cooking, specifically her mashed potatoes. I wake up the next morning with a cat sleeping on my head, the sheet music from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” next to my futon, and a piece of pumpkin pie which has spilled off of the plate and onto the carpet.
Which means good news! I did not eat the whole pie!
Days 7- 30
The rest of the diet continues with limited success. Ultimately much of what the nutritionist suggested was at very least impractical, and in some instances downright inane, but when I went spirit of the law instead of letter of the law on her meal plan, I think I probably did my body good.
As for the photo shoot, we shot the week after my Thanksgiving unraveling. It was neither a before nor an after, it just was an awkwardly posed photo in a magazine that a couple of people saw.
The most important thing about this challenge is what I learned. I’ll never scoop out a bagel. Ever. That is and always will be BAD.
Kate Tellers is a writer/performer/director/producer currently at work on the cabaret “I Sing Dead People,” “Disco Balls” (director) and on-going projects with The Moth.
Follow Kate on twitter @katadudle