Nothing Suits Me

The Lazy, Lumpy approach to swimwear readiness.

May 1 was the big day, and I do mean the Big Day—the day I was going shopping for a bathing suit with my overweight and underexercised body. May Day quickly became “MAYDAY!, MAYDAY!, MAYDAY!” “Send in back-up. I’m in danger. Rescue me from these racks of ‘suits’ that’ll never suit me.”

Most people understand—that skimpy piece of material never covers enough, and no matter how many miles you’ve run, or carbs you’ve rejected, you end up wishing you had pounded way more pavement and way less dough.

This year was going to be different. I wasn’t too far from my doctor’s recommended weight (just 12 pounds to shed). My ego-recommended weight was 20 pounds less than the wise doc’s, but three weeks before MAYDAY, I set aside that number. Focus on the doable, I told myself. Twelve pounds was nothing to take off in three weeks. Even I, a terrible dieter and a terrific eater, could do that. On several occasions, I’ve lost 10 pounds in three weeks, and I once lost 13 pounds in that amount of time. (Hey, I even went on to lose 12 more!)

All I had to do was replicate my past successes for a week each. Step one was easy: Look up the Cabbage Soup Diet, a fad diet that had once caused my stomach to twist and destroy like a tornado, and painfully wipe out 10 pounds. I bought all the ingredients in duplicate, as I planned to make one batch for me at home and one at a vacation home in the Outer Banks during a three-day getaway. How dedicated was I?!

At home, the soup, (which, I’ll warn you, looks nothing like the picture you’ll see online), was better than I remembered. I added the suggested spicy tomato juice and looked forward to eating it meal after meal for two days. The diet allows you to add in other foods, too. Something healthy every day. I quickly lost two pounds and then carted off my ingredients to the Outer Banks.

That’s when I stumbled. I allowed the beach to call me away from the kitchen, where I should have been making my soup. The scale was kind when I returned home—one pound down. However, so was my motivation. I thought about making another pot of cabbage soup to finish off my first seven days strong and then never progressed from the thinking to the doing.

This weak mind over widening midsection battle continued for the next two weeks. I was supposed to follow a ridiculous How-To-Make-Yourself Faint Diet next: eat two vegetables, two pieces of fruit and seven ounces of lean protein and one extra-fiber cracker or piece of bread a day.

Wait, I forgot. You are allowed one more thing: Water.

If you pay hundreds of dollars a month, you can be supervised by a “medical staff” to follow this diet. (Note the quotes. I was never sure the “doctor” I saw once for four minutes was an M.D.) You also get potassium pills and vitamin B shots. And dizzy.

This was the plan that helped me shed 25 pounds a few years ago. I remembered that fact well, but not the part about how miserable and mean I got while following it. This time, I could only stay on the diet for a day.

Next up, a reasonable plan—Weight Watchers. Although I hear they’ve tweaked the approach recently, I’ve followed it enough times to know the basics. Stick with it, and the weight comes off— about as quickly as we got Osama bin Laden. I didn’t have 10 years. I didn’t even have 10 weeks.

So what did I do? Resolved every morning to limit my calories. Then, around 3 p.m., I’d tell myself that tomorrow I would be “really good” to make up for the chips, Skittles or cake I was about to eat.

Repeat, repeat, repeat—until MAYDAY when I stepped on the scale and the number was exactly the same ... down to the tenth. I stepped on again, figuring it would drop as it often does. Instead, it shot up to the next whole number.

Two thoughts entered my mind: “Gross.” And: “I want Arby’s.”

I told my husband I was heading off for my swimsuit shopping trip. Target would be overwhelming if I didn’t first stop for a beef and cheddar, I told myself. So I gobbled one up and regained a bit of self-respect.

How is that possible? Well, I only ate one curly fry from my combo order. That is like the Pope saying only one prayer when he’s carrying a rosary. My improving self-esteem propelled me past the bikinis at Target and onto the tankinis, a wise recommendation by the hubby before I left home. A long, separate top could cover my tummy without clinging, and miracles of miracles, Target, where I always like the stock until I actually try it on my body, had a complementary style. It was black with a 1950s look—thick straps, a bit of a sweetheart neckline and concealing bunches of fabric. I kept my eyes up and centered on the top, instead of down and lingering on my cottage cheese legs.

It’s the lumps that’ll kill you, and they were my downfall when I headed to Megs Swimwear in Virginia Beach. I’ve long admired its selection and helpful staff and had such high hopes for finding another suit there. I pulled dozens of options in fun colors and styles, brushed my hair and reapplied lipstick to feel my best, and then I looked—not at my legs, but another woman’s. She was younger, cuter and fitter than me, and she had cellulite. I could see it, and that meant everyone could see mine, too. Popping into my head again was that word: “Gross!”

I couldn’t get past the sight of my legs at Megs. Lucky for me, though, my highly critical 11-year-old daughter and gentler-although-always-honest husband could when I modeled my one purchase at home: “I like it,” said the daughter. “It’s cute,” said the husband. “I’ve been cursed with no dedication,” said me, “yet blessed with a partially blind family.”

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