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Losing It

by David Westheimer


In Los Angeles, where my partner, Dody, and I have lived for almost 40 years, the major activities are making movies and losing weight, or trying to.  For every gym-trim man and woman there are thousands who believe if  they could just shed a few pounds their lives would be infinitely better.
      They will try anything short of amputation to do it.  High protein, self discipline, pills, nutritious low calorie drinks, classes, clinics, starvation, bulimia.  Popular now is a program which delivers measured meals to your home or office.  At a price.  Almost always the losers stop doing what they have been doing to lose the weight and gain it all back, maybe more. Then on to another lose-weight-without ever-being-hungry charade.
      My very own managing partner, who at 79 is sturdy and pleasantly rounded and whom I have finally persuaded will never be the same sylph she was 50 years ago,  in her middle years did the remorseless cycle several times, though never trying the more outlandish routines.  Weight Watchers worked for a while, until she tired of the weigh-ins and questioning.  One program she ordered by mail from Japan had only one rule, don't eat anything that grows underground -- potatoes, peanuts, kohl rabi.  She didn't try that.  I think she knew she couldn't give up kohl rabi.  Some of the more reasonable diets worked and some didn't but as with all diets the weight loss didn't last.
      The one that worked best was kind of outlandish.  She and our daughter-in-law Susan, who talked her into it in the days when Dody thought the girl she was 25 years earlier was still trapped inside her begging to be freed, would drive miles every day to the San Fernando Valley, which is across the hills from Los Angeles and in a different world entirely, to a doctor's office where a nurse would give them a shot in what they sat down on, when not getting a shot in it.
      The shot was based on a compound found in the urine of pregnant women (I am not making this up).  The shots, which among other things suppressed the appetite, combined with a daily intake of only 600 calories, really worked and before long Dody was slim enough to have slipped into a high school dress, if she still had one.
      I really liked that diet because this place where they went for the shots was in the neighborhood of a shop where the proprietress made delicious po' boys, which they call submarine sandwiches at some venues in the San Fernando Valley, with an out of this world secret sauce and Dody would often bring me one.  I wasn't counting calories but she was and I don't know how she was able to shed pounds while sometimes joining me.
      It was my fault the pounds eventually sneaked back.  Dody was doing great staying slim until I got detached retinas.  My eye doctor sent me to Boston, where he said the best retina doctors were (he said the eye surgeons in Los Angeles were just guys like me).  So, anyhow, I had to stay in Boston recuperating for a couple of weeks after the surgery and about all Dody and I had to do every day was decide where to have lunch and dinner.  Now, Boston had a lot of good, calorie-reckless restaurants and we went to a lot of them.   So by the time the two weeks were up so was Dody's weight.  Never would have happened if my retinas hadn't detached.
      She didn't blame me and has long since stopped trying every new diet that came down the pike.  The last one she signed up for was when our granddaughter, Erica, Susan's younger daughter, was a teenager.  (She's now 26 and working in New York designing costumes for movies.)  She wanted to lose some weight, possibly from overdosing on pictures of emaciated models in slick magazines, but didn't want to attend the boring weekly lectures and embarrassing weigh-ins of a diet program in vogue at the time.  So she talked Dody into signing up for it as her surrogate.  She can talk just about anyone into doing just about
      Dody would attend the lectures and let them weigh her and buy the diet food for the week, which she would then deliver to Erica.  There was a problem with this arrangement.  The diet program lady would weigh Dody and say, You haven't lost a pound!! Are you sticking to your diet?  And Dody would have to make up lies.  Sometimes she would blame it on me (after all, it was my fault in Boston) and say, My husband wants to eat out every night and its so hard to stick to your diet when you do that.  Or, We've been out of town and I didn't have the diet food with me.
      After two months of painful little white lies she hadn't lost a pound.
      Erica, she lost twelve.


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