Last weekend as my friend and I sipped on diet wine spritzers, discussing in great detail the nuances of the non-date I had just went on (I thought it ought to be a date, having my sister do my untamable Gene Wilder-esque hair in preparation and even stored up on all my wittiest stories, but really it was just a coffee thing that I got overly excited about) I had a realization.
We were eating pretzels and beer dip (wine spritzers, pretzels, beer dip, yeah I am not even going to pretend I don’t enjoy these kind nights from time to time) and as my friend got up to place our plates in the sink I snatched the beer dip spoon, saying, “I’ll take care of this,” and promptly put it in my mouth to lick the remnants of cheesy beer goodness. I just could not put the un-licked spoon in the sink with shreds of cheddar stuck in gooey cream cheese still clinging to the silver. As I placed the freshly licked spoon in the sink, I had a flashback to the one and only time I went to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
This was when I was living in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I felt I had tried everything for weight loss (except “The Biggest Loser,” that actually came later in an even more desperate attempt to lose weight). I was supremely tired of giving Weight Watchers my money only to shed some weight initially, lose interest in attending meetings and then gain all my weight back tenfold. I made the decision to attend an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, much like I make most of my life decisions, thinking: Either this will go quite swimmingly and then Hooray for me!, or, it will end in disaster and at least I will have a great story for my New York Times bestselling book of essays on my life. I need the disasters almost as much as I need the coups, especially if my book is going to be a New York Times bestseller.
I showed up to the meeting place, and stay for the whole meeting listening to this new approach to eating sensibly with the help of a 12-step program. An approach I haven’t tried before. It is very no-nonsense. It must be why Overeaters Anonymous is successful, but right away I could tell it was not for me. For starters, they were promising each other that if they made toast with peanut butter, they would not lick the spoon. Not lick the spoon? I could make no such promises.
Then they made further vows that when they measured out their food in measuring cups (who has time for this?) they would scrape the top off the cup with a knife to make sure there wasn’t extra food overflowing from the cup. The few times I have measured out my food, I always overfilled the measuring cup. This could be why I was attending an Overeaters Anonymous meeting in the first place, but let’s not read into that too heavily.
Then I was informed that after you scraped the top of your measuring cup of oatmeal, you were supposed to put the knife in the sink again, un-licked. What kind of dictatorship were these people running? I instantly became stricken. Not lick spoons or knives with perfectly good peanut butter or oatmeal on them? Just watch them go down the sink to clog your drain? Then you have to pay a plumber to do what your stomach was perfectly capable of and would’ve been thanking you for at breakfast.
It was madness.
There was some logic to better food portioning, I could give them that, but I knew in my core I could never have that kind of willpower. I could learn to limit myself by eating a piece of chicken the size of a deck of cards, but ask me to put a spoon with leftover peanut butter in the sink? It was basically sacrilegious and I wanted no part of it.
I stayed through the rest of the meeting to be polite, but I never attended another OA meeting again.
After putting my cleanly licked beer-dip spoon in the sink this past weekend, I smiled thinking that in the way of un-licked spoons I was still failing as miserably as I always had. But that’s just spoons. In other areas, like my newfound love of fitness and sweet potatoes, I realized I am a completely different woman than the woman who walked into OA three years ago. I may never be the kind of gal who can refrain from licking a peanut-buttered spoon, but that’s what running is for—to balance out my love of peanut butter and beer. Compromise, right? It’s all about compromise.