From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

The Un-Diet

Fortune and love befriend the bold.


“No, Sue, honest, you don’t look fat,” my sister said.

It was the first day of my new job at a local lawn care company and I was in a panic.

“Are you sure?” I turned sideways in front of the mirror and sucked in my stomach. She had to be lying. My skirt was biting into my waistline, and I couldn’t button my jacket. How had those extra pounds gotten there?

I’d always been vigilant about my weight. One careless remark when I was ten years old, “Oh, isn’t she just a cute, chubby thing?” did it. I could read between the lines, f-a-t. Living in a family of skinnies, this certainly wouldn’t do. And so began a lifetime of dieting. The hard-boiled egg diet took me through my preteen years and then it was on to high school with the grapefruit diet. My early career days were marked by the cabbage soup diet—much to the dismay of my coworkers. All of these kept me from being fat. But I needed to be thin. So I experimented with the Target Zone diet, Weight Watchers and the Pyramid diet. And once I even tried fasting.

Just a few carefree months of living diet-free, like the rest of my gal pals, resulted in my present dilemma— starting my new job feeling like a blimp.

I took one last look in the mirror. Drats! The outfit needed something. I know! I quickly knotted a brightly colored scarf around my neck; let them focus on that instead of those holster hips down below. There was nothing else I could do about it now; I grabbed my keys and purse and flew out the door.

As soon as I walked into the office, my boss gave me my first task. “Here Sue, take these notes out into the warehouse and sort them by name. Each lawn specialist has their own labeled slot in the mail center.” She gave me an encouraging smile and went back to typing.

I opened the door and my jaw dropped. There in front of me stood the most handsome guy I’d ever seen. His muscles rippled as he hoisted a huge bag of fertilizer over his shoulder.

I waved.

He grinned.

I felt some chemistry.

I slipped back into the office. “Who’s the cute guy out there with the blond hair?”

“That’s Bruce,” the secretary in the corner said, "and he's dating someone."

From then on, I volunteered to do the notes each day and every other menial job that involved traipsing through “the guy area.” If that meant putting up with the horrid chemical smells in the warehouse, so be it. I got to see Bruce.

I wanted to look my best for him, so every morning I was up at dawn, camouflaging those extra pounds. Black was in, prints were out, and by the time I was done primping, I almost believed I had a chance.

And one day it happened. He sauntered over as I was slipping notes into the slots.

“Hey Sue, what’re you doing Friday night?” Bruce smiled and his tanned face crinkled. This gorgeous guy was really asking me out!

“I’m not sure,” I tried my best to sound nonchalant. “Besides, I heard you’re dating someone.”

“Nah, nothing serious,” he put his hand on the wall behind me, bringing us closer together.

“Well . . .” I hesitated, hoping he couldn’t hear my heart thundering in my chest.

“C’mon, just burgers and a movie,” he pressed, “how about it?”

“Okay,” I said, feeling giddy, “sounds like fun.”

We had a blast together, and he asked me out again. And again. With each date we grew closer, and within a few weeks we were an item. I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to worry about weight, exercise or that much hated four-letter word: d-i-e-t.

About a month later, Bruce came over to meet the family. It just happened to be the day my younger sister was going to the prom. She looked gorgeous as she drifted down the stairs in a swirl of peach silk, her blonde hair cascading around her shoulders. I looked at Bruce, who obviously agreed; his mouth hung open as he watched her sweep into the room.

I looked from my thin, beautiful sister to my great-looking boyfriend, and I wanted to disappear. What did he see in a chubbette like me anyway?

I pasted a smile on my face until my sister left for the dance. Then I clomped downstairs to the family room, threw myself on the sofa and bawled my eyes out.

“Hey, what’s the matter?” Bruce sat next to me and pushed my bangs back, trying to look into my eyes. “What are you crying for?”

“I–I–I’m ssssooo fat,” I turned away from him. “Why are you dating me anyway? You don't belong with someone that looks like me. My sister's more your type,” I blubbered.

“Sue, your sister is a real cute kid, but she’s way too young for me. Besides, she’s not my type—you are, and I think you’re beautiful.”

I turned over as tears continued to dribble down my face.

“But I have to lose this extra w-w-weight. I feel so fat and ugly-y-y-y. I don’t know what you see in me.” All the pain I’d experienced feeling like the chubby one in my thin, perfect family washed over me.

Bruce gathered me in his arms and just held me.

Then I felt something wet trickling down my neck. Puzzled, I pulled away and looked at Bruce. He was crying with me!

“I don’t ever want to hear you call yourself fat or ugly again. No one talks that way about the woman I love, and I love you just the way you are.” He leaned in and our tear-streaked faces met in a tender kiss. That was the moment I fell in love with Bruce.

Two months later, he slipped an engagement ring on my finger and on bended knee asked me to be his wife.

Dreams of a fairy-tale wedding filled my head, starting with my dress—I had to find the perfect gown. Too bad there isn’t time for just one more diet, I thought longingly, but with the wedding only six months away, it wasn’t possible. I visited every bridal salon within a thirty-mile radius, searching for the ideal style to flatter my fuller figure. I tried on every type of wedding dress imaginable, until I finally found it—the gown of my dreams.

“Can you wrap it up?” I asked as I gazed at the white confection of beaded satin and delicate lace.

“Oh no, miss,” she said. “We’ll keep it here since you’ll have to come in for several fittings between now and the wedding.”

She was right. But, surprisingly, at every fitting, the seamstress had to take my gown in, not let it out. “Are you on one of those new liquid diets?” she asked as she marked the alteration with straight pins.

“No,” I said. Funny, I hadn’t even thought about dieting. Come to think of it, my clothes were looser lately. And I couldn’t recall the last time I’d stepped on a scale.

Eight weeks later, on a perfect June day, I slipped into my wedding dress feeling radiant. I floated down the aisle thinner than I’d ever been. I beamed at my husband-to-be, waiting for me by the altar, and I knew it was all thanks to him. Bruce loved me just as I was, and that was the only diet I ever needed.

Susan A. Karas

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