The Best Diets I’ve Accidentally Been On

could it be that my new kettlebell workout is already starting to show?

There’s a lady in the ready-to-wear section of Neiman Marcus who, whenever she sees me, tells me I’ve lost a lot of weight. She’s rarely right, and if she was right every time she saw me, I’d be smaller than a size 0 — I’d be invisible. I’ve been on a new eating and exercising regiment since the beginning of the New Year, but out of fear of being disappointed, I’ve refused to step on the scale to verify her observation.

Though it’s not the case this time, the most effective diets I’ve ever followed have relied on meal replacement programs.

Instead of a traditional lunch or dinner, I had alcohol.

In college I went on the Sonoma diet. I lost five pounds in the first week. I wasn’t really allowed to eat anything, but it told me to drink wine. I was constantly hungry. I was also constantly buzzed and five pounds lighter – how could I complain?

In lieu of two meals of deep fried fish parts, I had one meal of Quidi Vidi beer and one meal of fish and chips. I lost 5 pounds in Newfoundland.

One summer vacation, I spent two weeks in Newfoundland, Canada, where they warned me I’d find love and  fish battered and fried is both its own food group and the only thing on most menus.  In an attempt to mitigate the potentially damaging effects of 2 meals slathered in batter and hot fat, I replaced one of those meals with another Newfoundland specialty — Quidi Vidi beer. I don’t know what my arteries looked like, but I came home several pound lighter.

As a curatorial intern at the Museum of Modern Art, I was commuting from Westchester to midtown Manhattan while trying to be a competitive athlete while trying to earn a small income doing freelance projects. I’d come home late at night too tired to turn on the stove, but not too tired to pour a gin and tonic. My “Intern Diet,” as I called it, resulted in my first significant weight loss regime with lasting results since puberty took away my puppy fat. It also resulted in a small stomach ulcer.

That’s the problem with successful diets – they’re often bad for your health.

Driving Home for the Holidays? How a Highway Pitstop can keeps those Holiday Pounds in Check…maybe

It’s the final week before Christmas. People are grabbing their kids and packing up their hybrids to head home for the holidays. We all know what that means: “From Atlantic to Pacific, gee the traffic is terrific!”

After hours slogging along the interstate in bumper-to-bumper traffic, rest area visits are a given. One thing I learned while making my way around the eastern seaboard this week is that a pitstop on I-95 can not only revive the spirits, it can change your life.

Freshen up. Refuel. Grab a latte. Check your weight. Receive an inspirational message from the Virgin Mary.

Wait, what?

For 25cents, get your weight, lucky lotto numbers, and an inspirational message from the Virgin Mary

Have you ever noticed that, in addition to food and gas, highway service plazas always have a pay-for-your-weight scale in the bathrooms? Considering that TCBY, Cinnabon, Burger King, and McDonald’s account for the majority of the food vendors at these interstate pitstops, I thought the scales might be the federal government’s feeble attempt to curb the obesity problem in America. Want a double-whopper with extra cheese and a super-sized fries to eat en route to grandmother’s 4-course holiday feast? Why don’t you check your BMI first?

Over the years, I’ve frequented many a highway rest area, but never before had I seen a coin-operated scale like the one in the Clara Barton Service Plaza on I-95 South.  Sitting in the entrance way to the ladies bathroom was a bilingual machine with a technicolor image of the Virgin of Guadalupe plastered front and center. There was a scale in the men’s room too, but it was plain vanilla white with “Get Your Exact Weight!” scrawled on it in purple. Was someone trying to send the ladies on I-95 a message about ideal femininity? Thin, pious, and virginal?

For a quarter, you can get your “exacto peso,” an inspirational message, and today’s lucky lotto numbers. Being an intrigued sucker, I dropped in the change from my grande awake tea latte. Considering it’s the post-Thanksgiving, pre-New Years Resolution 30-day all-you-can-eat challenge, this was probably not the best idea for my ego. None the less, I proceeded. And what did the Scale of the Virgin tell me? That I gained 6 pounds in 2 days.

I guess it’s a good thing I opted NOT to order the venti gingerbread latte with whipped cream.

always a sucker for fortune tellers, there goes my latte change

Obviously, 6 pounds in 2 days is impossible, but being a typical female, I couldn’t help but frantically assess my eating/exercising regime over the last 48 hours. After all, the machine claimed to give me my exact weight up to 500 pounds! But, Kathleen, let’s be sensible.

Consider it: my sweatshirt easily weighed  5oz, that extra-long scarf was an additional 3oz, my sneakers were worth half a pound… my wallet – a long, quilted thing with a heavy zipper, metal embellishments and $5 worth of nickles– clocked in at a pound… and my car keys, I can’t forget my carkeys… together, my accessories surely accounted for about 3 of the 6 pounds. There’s a reason why I generally refuse to stand on a scale wearing anything but my birthday suit.

As for the other 3? Well, those were just a lie. “Exact Peso,” my ass.

Due up next up on the little screen  was my inspirational message. I half expected a note that said “Find enlightenment… go eat a bar of soap, fatty.” Or “Gluttony is a sin. Find redemption through the FRUIT of the earth,” or “Many a martyr found salvation through self-denial. Consider a self-denial of food your path.”

Instead I got “Adore A Dios Sobre Todo.”

I translated it as: “Love God Above All… Particularly, Above All Carbohydrates.”

Love God Above All... Particularly Above All Carbohydrates