July 2nd

theresa albert - my friend in food


The weighting list


Traditionally, the new year is a time in which many people turn their attention to weight loss.  I, however, have become a little jaded by that particular resolution.   Over the course of my life I have tried just about every diet in existence: low-calorie, low-carb, low-fat and low self-esteem, usually with the same result:  I lose the weight and then eventually gain most of it back… sometimes even more.

When I was a teen, I joined a group called “The Happy Losers” (talk about an oxymoron!) where they taught me to make a non-fat, artificially-sweetened, gelatin-based cheesecake I could eat for lunch (Yum!) .  I was informed that when entering a restaurant, I should immediately tell the waiter not to bring a bread basket because I have a serious medical condition called “Fatonmythighs”.   Happy?  It was a laugh riot.   I’m sure you can just imagine the joyful scene of a dozen starving women meeting in a basement every week to weigh themselves and trade recipes for deprivation.

In University, a strict 700-calorie a day diet at a medical weight loss clinic brought me from a size 12 down to a size 7, a number I hadn’t seen since before puberty.  It was a tough program and when I confessed to having given in to the lure of a chocolate brownie (“Bless me, Nurse, for I have sinned!”), she told me the next time I was faced with such a temptation, I should try carrot sticks.   How I longed to tell her that the next time she wanted hot, steamy sex, she should consider a nice, firm handshake!

It wasn’t long before I gained the weight back (and more).   But did I learn from my mistakes?   Of course not.   What followed were single food fads like the grapefruit diet and the cabbage soup regimen where you can only have unlimited amounts of that one food.   I think the goal was to bore the fat off me.   I couldn’t even look at a grapefruit or cabbage for a decade after that.

Eventually I joined a popular healthy points-based program.   It was definitely a sound choice but I found the points allowance was similar to a weekly paycheque:  there’s just never enough to get you past Wednesday!

Finally, this year, I bought a book on how to LOOK thinner.  Now THAT’s a plan I can live with!   Those recommended slimming undergarments are just great; after all, breathing is overrated!



Ilana Waldston is the mother of two teenage girls who keeps sane by singing. A graduate of the prestigious International Cabaret Conference at Yale, she’s been delighting Toronto audiences with her comedic patter and well-honed ability to sell a song. She’s a self-professed foodie, loves to bake, travel and dine (often all at once) who sometimes sings of food in songs such as “My Diet Starts Tomorrow”, “Dieter’s Prayer” and “Foodblooz”. In addition to her solo work, she’s also a part of Toronto’s only female jazz quartet, The Satin Dolls... www.jazznlaughs.ca


3 Responses

    February 2, 2011 at 9:53 am Reply

    Ilana! I did the same thing after the Bread and Depression diet I was on in Europe. I came home, joined WW and lost a bunch of weight for second year University. Despite the looser jeans, it was kinda awful. I became crazily obsessed with what I was going to eat next. I was so hungry all the time. Frickin’ points. I second the “How to Look Thinner” book. Good choice!

    February 16, 2011 at 9:34 am Reply

    OMG….I almost forgot about Gerda Rosner’s Happy Losers.
    As much as you hated that fake cheesecake, I actually “learned” to enjoy it (ahhh, what we can teach the mind…). While moving from my previous house, to this one, I came upon a BOX of the chocolate powder stuff that we bought from Happy Losers…do you remember…we would mix it with ice and canned crushed pineapples…then we lay it out on tin foil….freeze it….and we would devour it frozen?

    February 20, 2011 at 8:43 am Reply

    @ Reesa: The chocolate powder with the canned pineapple… I’d forgotten all about that, probably for the same reason one’s brain forgets a traumatic event. Ew.

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