Saturday, Dec. 29, 1990
Well, I have some bad news. I did not go to Jenna’s house because some of her father’s relatives died. Too bad! Major bummer! I hope, though, that I will still go to Anka’s house for New Years. That should be lots of fun! Speaking of New Years, I always like to make a New Years resolution list. This year I’ll make it in my new diary. Here goes:
1. Lose some weight (like 20 pounds.)
2. Get Danny (god, he’s sooo cute.)
3. Grow out my hair.
4. Get really good grades. (like mostly A’s.)
5. Get my parents to let me wear make-up.
1. My first diet was not all that pleasant. You know how most diets result in gaining back all the weight and then some? So true. I had unrealistic expectations of fad diets plus no sensible ideas on how to sustain weight loss (I thought once the diet was over I could go back to eating all the hearty Russian foods I was indulging in pre-diet). Within a couple of years, I went from needing to lose a few pounds to being around 20 pounds overweight. And every time I came across a new weight loss system, I was convinced it would be the magic bullet. Did I really think something like the cabbage soup diet would make me skinny? I really did…until I tasted that cabbage soup.
2. Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen.
3. Within less than a year I’d chop it all off.
4. I maintained an A-minus average, which I was happy with. My parents, used to my perfect string of elementary school grades, sometimes found this lacking. It took a while for them to realize that getting a 100% on a 20-word spelling test was immensely easier than getting a 90-95% on a Physiology or Social Studies test that covered many chapters worth of dense material.
5. No make-up until sixteen was Mom’s firm rule, so until then I had to sneak it. Just a bit of lipstick from time to time. The sparkly wacky stuff would come later.
It is “Spring Break”! This is great! 11 days of no homework and freedom. I am on a diet.
The aforementioned freedom clearly did not extend to the fridge and food cupboards.
I went on my first diet when I was ten years old. My mother had recently lost 80 pounds, and along with a sensible diet and consistent exercise, she credited a tea she drank in helping her lose the weight. It was made by a company called Sunrider and claimed to help cleanse the system and rid the body of fat and toxins.
At ten years old, I only needed to lose five pounds. Athletics weren’t my thing, and I was more likely to spend hours reading than running around outside. In terms of diet, mine wasn’t the healthiest. Russian cuisine involves big portions and lots of meats, starches, and other creamy/heavy foods (have you ever had Chicken Kiev? It’s a piece of breaded chicken that has been wrapped around a stick of butter). While Mom was eating more salads, Dad still made sure we had plenty of salami, bagels, and calorie-heavy Russian foods on hand. And let’s not forget those occasional trips to Beefsteak Charlie’s and McDonald’s.
Genetically, I come from hearty Eastern European stock and by age ten, I had a bit of baby fat. I saw Mom had shed her grownup fat drinking the Sunrider tea, so I decided to try it myself. And the following year, when I gained back the few pounds I shed, I decided to give it another go.
Let’s talk about this Sunrider tea. It came in giant canisters in powder form that Mom ordered over the phone. It was easy enough to make once you knew the tea-water ratio, but drinking the stuff is another story. Imagine unsweetened iced tea that’s been brewed with a bunch of sweaty socks and a few heaping spoonfuls of dirt, to give it a distinct gritty aftertaste. That’s about how terrible this tea tasted. Adding sugar defeated the point of its dietary effects though it was slightly less bitter warm than it was cold. Drinking about two quarts a day was necessary in order to reap the full weight loss benefits.
Why would anybody drink such a horrible concoction, you ask? Because you could still eat pretty much what you want and it would help you lose weight. Aren’t those the best diets of all?
I probably chose spring break so that I wouldn’t have to lug giant plastic containers of gross tea to school with me. Drinking the bulk of the tea by mid-day was recommended, so I’d take sips during class and peed at least once an hour. I also probably grimaced the entire time I drank the stuff, so it was easier to make faces and take frequent bathroom breaks in the privacy of my own home.
Dieting at such a young age was not a good idea, especially since when the tea was gone, the weight eventually came back on, but I was none the wiser on proper fitness and nutrition. Of course it was less about nourishment and more about body image and looking a certain way. I was told at a very early age that being heavy would make life harder for me, so I struggled against it. I still struggle. That Sunrider tea was just the beginning.