Have you ever read that amusing site called ‘Fuck My Life,’ which asks you to ‘share your everyday life unfortunate moments and other fail funny stories?’ While I might not approve of this ungrammatical request, I usually enjoy the contents posted by ordinary people, including stories of pain, humiliation, and blind grandfathers who can smell you having sex with your new boyfriend on the couch. Although I consult this site on a regular basis, I never thought I would contribute to it. Unfortunately, I have had quite a few FML moments since starting my pre-competition diet in January.
Incident number one: It is Friday evening and I am at a VIP opening for an exhibition of contemporary art that I curated. I am working it, all dressed up, doing media interviews, posing for society page photos, and giving guided tours to wealthy doctors and their long-red-fingernailed wives. The museum has gone all out, hiring expensive caterers to create an array of beautiful and somewhat exotic food items. Miniature grilled asparagus spears wrapped in pink salmon strips rest beside asiago lemon zest bites. Hundreds of such small plates are carried around the room by young servers who literally wear tables around their waists, like furniture skirts held up by lederhosen. These angelic food providers also have golden wings strapped to their backs as they glide amongst the wine-drinking patrons of the arts. The lobby spaces are suffused with good smells, free booze, and self-satisfaction. I indulge in nothing, not even daring to nibble on those tempting sugar sticks otherwise known as carrots. Later that night I return to the boutique hotel to eat 115 grams of cold basa and do one hour of cardio in the small overheated gym while the participating artists head out to the bar. In a sweaty and somewhat angry state back in my tastefully furnished hotel room, I check my e-mail, only to find a message from my diet coach that cuts my almonds and increases my cardio to 1.5 hours on non-training days because I am still way too fat. FML!
Incident number two: I have tried to remove all dangerous food items from my kitchen, throwing out the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in case I would be tempted to bake brownies for my partner—treats that I would not eat but might sample by licking the bowl or mixers. I have nevertheless missed something. Again and again I am drawn to the jar, savouring two or three fruit-flavoured chalky circles. By the second week of my diet I have eaten almost an entire container of Tums. Powerless before their corn-starchy goodness, I resort to the drastic measure pictured below. FML!
Incident number three: I open an e-mail message that delivers good news: the academic workshop in which I will soon be participating has received extra funding for lunchtime field trips and extravagant coffee breaks. The registration form asks me if I have any dietary restrictions and I check the box marked YES. My explanation goes exactly like this: ‘I cannot eat anything you have listed. I am training for a bodybuilding competition. Don’t be alarmed; I will try to remain calm.’ FML!
Incident number four: While searching for scotch tape in the storage closet, I happen upon an old pez dispenser. Without thinking I immediately use my mouth to tilt back the Shrek Donkey head—who the fuck bought that?—and bite six stale orange rectangle candies from its throat. Emerging from my frenzied state, I begin to hate myself. I stare at the cheap plastic toy and wonder ‘if I am this crazy after a mere three weeks of dieting, what will I do in three months?’ FML!
Incident number five: I am invited to give a talk to a group of physicians, historians of medicine, and art historians in a major Canadian city. The hosts will pay for my flights, accommodations, and provide a per diem as well as a respectable honourarium. The generous organizers ask: ‘Surely your dietary restrictions will allow you to eat something at the fine restaurants we have booked for you?’ After some hesitation, I write back and explain that although I cannot eat anything at any restaurant, I will gladly participate, hoping that no one is offended when I avoid all alcohol as well as food. I will simply watch everyone else as they eat and drink to their hearts’ content. That is exactly what I do for 2.5 days, while periodically visiting the bathroom to gulp down the fish and chicken stashed in my purse. FML!