My salvation came in the form of a phone call--one of those unimportant things that seems like a simple annoyance at the time but, in retrospect, becomes a turning point in your life.
The ringing phone shook me from my sleep, and the X-ray technician informed me that my early-morning appointment had been changed to four in the afternoon. "Now don't forget, you can't eat anything between now and then. Liquids like coffee or tea are okay, but nothing to eat."
At nearly 270 pounds, the thought of not eating all day threw me into a panic, but I could figure no way out. Steeling myself to the task, I headed for work and, I thought, a day of torture. I was director of student services at a private school, and although my day would normally have been filled with counseling sessions and meetings, the postponement of my X ray left me with a day free to catch up on my paperwork. Still, the thought of the long hours ahead, without food or diversion, made the day stretch endlessly before me. Amazingly, the hours passed quickly, and even more surprising, I was far less hungry than usual. Coffee break time came and went. I worked right through lunch. I barely thought of food. My energy remained high, and my ability to concentrate seemed better. My usual mid-afternoon slump failed to appear, and as I headed out to my X-ray appointment, I experienced a sense of well-being that I could not remember ever having felt before.
I arrived at my appointment in wonderful spirits. As I entered the hospital for the X ray, I was aware of feeling somehow liberated from the clouded thinking and cravings and tiredness that had filled me for so long. Despite this, I had brought along two French crullers, tucked away in a brown paper bag, ready to revive and nourish me in the dressing room after my X ray.
The X ray completed, I headed out for a well-earned dinner, my crullers still in the bag, uneaten and unneeded. Dinner was wonderful. I don't think I had ever tasted so marvelous a meal, before or since. As a reward, I ordered everything I wanted: soup, salad, bread and lots of butter, pasta, veal parmigiana, and coffee. Though I was more than satisfied, I slowly relished my crullers on the way home. I was satisfied in body but not in mind, as I chastised myself for ruining a wonderful day of fasting with a meal that would surely put on the pounds.
But I was in for a surprise. The next morning my weight had dropped by two pounds. I checked and rechecked--moved the scale around the bathroom floor as I usually did in a vain attempt to bring the numbers down. Now I was trying to get the scale to balance at a higher weight so that I could make sense out of what it was saying. Try as I might, however, my weight remained two pounds lower than the day before. Water weight, I told myself. It will be back in a day or two.
Still, something in me, a well-trained scientist combined with a bit of a gambler at heart, dared me to try it again, and taking up the challenge turned out to be the chance of a lifetime.
The next day went almost as easily as the first, except for the games my mind began playing with me. I told myself that I couldn't skip breakfast and lunch again (though I knew I had done it so easily the day before). I felt great, but the voices in my head kept chipping away at my confidence. I compromised by getting a cup of coffee and two more crullers to be put away as my after-dinner treat. I promised myself the best dinner ever, though deep inside I wondered whether I might not give in and have those crullers before the end of the day.
The afternoon flew by, and before I could torture myself with the question of "to cruller or not to cruller," it was time to leave work. I wanted to enjoy dinner in the privacy of my own home, so assuming I would add some special goodies I had waiting at home, I stopped by my favorite pizza restaurant and ordered a giant pizza slice (a small pie in its own right), half of one of the large submarine sandwiches, and a Greek salad, all of which I proceeded to take home. The meal was delicious! I ate it all, though at the end I struggled to get everything down. That had never happened before! And, try as I might, I could not face the chips and cookies that awaited me on the shelves. I could barely eat one of my crullers, and as I sat and thought about my reduced appetite, I wondered whether it could in some way be connected to not eating all day.
Excerpted from The Carbohydrate Addict's Healthy Heart Program by Richard & Rachael Heller/Frederic Vagnini. Copyright© 1999 by Richard & Rachael Heller/Frederic Vagnini. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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