23. Cheeseburger in Paradise

23. Cheeseburger in Paradise

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

in Paradise

You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things.
 ~Ken Kesey

My name is Rebecca but my nickname is “C.B.” which stands for cheeseburger. I got the nickname C.B. several years ago when I was working on a television show in Maui, which is gorgeous—just an absolute paradise! I was the personal assistant to ESPN television fitness star, Kiana Tom. We were in Maui for two weeks shooting her popular exercise show, Kiana’s Flex Appeal. Let me tell you, two weeks is a long time to hang out with “fitness people,” especially if your idea of a good time is a brownie sundae followed by salty potato chips. I was a bona fide junk food addict stranded on an island with “health nuts” who, from my perspective, seemed to be from another planet.

The entire cast and crew stayed at a luxurious resort called the Grand Wailea. The resort was expensive so we were required to share a hotel room with another member of the production team. My roommate’s name was Julie and she was in charge of Kiana’s wardrobe. (Kiana’s wardrobe, by the way, consisted of itsy-bitsy bikinis and workout shorts. I always found it amusing that Julie’s full-time job was taking care of bikinis that were so small I could have put three of them in my wallet!) Anyway, Julie was a fantastic roommate and I had a great time working on the show. . . except for when it came time for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

For breakfast everyone enthusiastically drank protein shakes or ate oatmeal while I desperately scanned the craft services table hoping for a doughnut that might have accidentally been delivered. There was never a doughnut to be found—the closest thing I could find was a whole wheat bagel. “Oh well” I thought, “at least it’s the right shape!”

When we’d break for lunch, I’d watch in disbelief as everyone got excited about their grilled chicken breasts and steamed vegetables. I’d pick at my food claiming that I was “not that hungry.” After we’d wrap for the evening, the cast and crew would make plans to go out to dinner together. Most nights I’d claim to be “exhausted from the sun” or say that I “had too much work to do” just so I could have a few hours to myself. I’d diligently work on my laptop as my roommate Julie got dressed to go out to dinner with the others, but the minute she’d leave the room I’d call room service and order a cheeseburger and fries. I’d salivate just waiting for the cheeseburger to be delivered! I was always struck by how high my room service bill was but it was a small price to pay for “real” food! I’d scarf down the cheeseburger in no time and then hide the evidence by walking my tray with the dirty dishes down the hall and putting it in front of someone else’s hotel room door.

The production company had paid for our hotel rooms in advance but we were responsible for incidental charges like phone calls, in-room movies and room service so I figured I’d just quietly pay my room service bill at the end of my stay and no one would be the wiser. What I didn’t realize was that this hotel offered a special feature where you could review your incidentals on the TV in your room. I also didn’t realize that Julie would be checking our room’s bill to see how expensive the phone calls she had been making to her husband had been. I was in the shower when I heard Julie yell, “$100 for cheeseburgers? That can’t be right—I’m calling the front desk!”

I jumped out of the shower with soap still in my hair and said, “Wait. Actually, that’s correct. I’ve been ordering cheeseburgers.” I started laughing as I told Julie how I’d been ordering cheeseburgers from room service, then hiding the trays down the hall. She was laughing so hard when she called Kiana that she could barely speak. Then Kiana started laughing too and by the morning it had all become a big joke on the set. In a way it was a relief because it allowed me to eat my beloved junk food out in the open my last few days in Maui. As a matter of fact, on one of the last days of shooting I did go out to eat with the cast and crew. We were at a beautiful high-end restaurant so I ordered an exquisite pasta dish, but when my food came and the waiter lifted the fancy silver dome lid that was covering my food, it was revealed that someone had snuck out and gotten me a cheeseburger, then bribed the waiter to serve it to me instead of the pasta. Everyone laughed—especially me as I happily ate the cheeseburger!

Kiana still affectionately calls me C.B. but a lot has changed these days. I lost over 40 pounds through Weight Watchers and I recently became a circuit trainer at Curves gym. When new members say, “I just don’t know if I can do this,” I always reply, “Trust me. If I can do this, you can do this!” And when they ask for advice on what they should eat I hear myself saying things like “Oatmeal is good.” And “For lunch and dinner you probably want to have some protein like grilled chicken or tofu, and be sure to eat your veggies!” At first they look at me like I’m from another planet but I know that will change. I’m living proof that with time and dedication new habits can be formed and taste buds can evolve. That doesn’t mean that people suddenly become “perfect.” I’m not. I still eat the occasional cheeseburger or doughnut but I’m more aware of my actions now than I used to be. It’s still a struggle for me to stay away from fried foods and sweets but as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that everybody has challenges in their lives—food is mine. I take it day-by-day—sometimes hour-by-hour. And I’m okay with that because I’m proud of how far I’ve come since the day I got caught eating cheeseburgers in paradise!

~Rebecca Hill

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