From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

Take Two

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

John Quincy Adams

There is something about everyone they’re not happy with. Maybe it’s their weight, hair, eyes or skin color, their shoe size, job situation or relationships—any number of things.

For me, it’s always been my weight.When I hit puberty I sprouted a chest, a butt and a little gut all at once. I became aware of things I never had before, in places I never thought of before. I became increasingly self-conscious.

Some girls chose not to eat. I chose the opposite and began eating too much. My appetite sky-rocketed, but I looked fine, until I hit eighteen. Then it was as if gravity had something against me at an early age. I was making bad eating decisions, was depressed and cared way too much about what people thought of me.

Eventually my weight became an obstacle in the way of happiness—or so I thought.

It took many years of these bad eating habits for me to end up considerably overweight. I would diet, crash diet, nose-dive diet; if there was a diet out there, I was on it. I tried about everything but eating tofu with tweezers! (Don’t think I didn’t consider it though.) And I would lose weight, only to gain it right back, and then some.

A constant frustration for me was the emphasis that society placed on being thin. Thin is beautiful. To those of us who aren’t, we must resolve to lose weight and be healthy and live happily ever after. That moment of fortitude vanishes the minute the delivery boy, holding the extra-large pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, rings the doorbell and you think,Well, I paid for it; I might as well eat it! which is exactly what I would do. Then I would feel terrible about my lack of self-control and cry.

Of course I comforted myself with a double-dark chocolate candy bar, or two or three, which worked until I read the nutrition label. Imagine my shock to discover my delusion about chocolate being a vegetable. Hey, it comes from a bean, and beans are vegetables, aren’t they? The justification and rationalizations never end.

On a day I resolved to lose weight and be healthy, I would consume over 4,000 calories! I know I was in the junk food line a little too long when they handed out those metabolisms, but even the women who pack it away and stay tiny wouldn’t last long at that rate. I was living in an endless cycle of guilt, unhappiness and failure.

I would make jokes about myself so I’d feel less self-conscious about the way I looked. I would tell people, “I should put stickers onmy holster hips that say, ‘Caution, wide turns.’” Or how about this one: “I get applause when I run in gym class. My thighs slap together so loud it sounds like everyone’s clapping.” After all, my attitude is based on 10 percent of what life hands me, and 90 percent of how I react to what life hands me.

It didn’t occur to me until later that, like almost everything in life, happiness is a choice. I made some bad choices in the food I ate, and how much of it. Now I have to reverse the process. In the end, it isn’t about crash diets or what society thinks—it’s about learning to have a diet. Everything we eat is a diet, and one secret is to keep things in proportion. Another is choosing to be happy with what you have—no matter how much more of it you’ve been given.

God, my husband, and the prayers of many family and friends are the reason I’m able to put life into a different perspective today. Society doesn’t define happiness— especially mine. I no longer let it. What we do with our lives and bodies is up to us. I had to change my attitude before I could change my eating habits. There are certain things about myself that I can’t change, but the things I can, I am learning to be less obsessive about and more patient with.

I’m still in a weight-loss process and will be for a long time, but now when I answer that door and find an extra-large pepperoni pizza with extra cheese waiting, I’ll have two slices instead of four—and choose to be happy that I had any at all.

Karen A. Bakhazi

Poached Eggs au Gratin


1 tablespoon white vinegar

4 eggs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

In a deep medium skillet, bring 2 inches of water and vinegar to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl and tip gently into boiling water. Repeat with all eggs.

Cover skillet and cook 3 minutes for soft yolks, 5 minutes for firmer yolks. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs from water and drain thoroughly.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Reprinted from The Schwarzbein Principle Cookbook. ©1999
Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., Nancy Deville and Evelyn Jacob.
Health Communications, Inc.

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