Cutting Carbs and Bullshit on The Road
I didn’t grow up with religion so I’m easily impressed by inconvenient rituals, and exercises in deprivation that make me feel vaguely smug.
I’ve always been susceptible to cults like political campaigns, yoga, (tantric sex), retreats & extreme diets. Anything to fill the void. I recently started the keto diet. For the uninitiated, the keto diet is high fat, medium protein, and EXTREMELY low carb/sugar regimen. I’m also a traveling comic, and being on the road performing for strangers can make the void feel vast. Sometimes I’m tempted to fill it with carbs.
I have a strained relationship with food. I was a casual & experimental bulimic.
I liked the concept of eating without gaining weight, but the practice of throwing up undigested pound cake was…unsustainable. I was at my heaviest & lightest during the darkest moments of my life. I got up to 180 lbs while cultivating an Adderall addiction, which should win me some kind of a medal. I was also failing at my VERY IMPORTANT, all-consuming, 120 hour a week job.
I got down to 115 lbs dating a man who held me down by my throat on the streets of New Orleans until I apologized for going to an open mic on vacation. I was trying to make myself smaller. He loved that. I felt like I disappeared. Food is not a consistent crutch for me, I play whack-a-mole with my vices. Sexting is free! Smoking cigarettes leads to more conversations, and less eating! The keto diet appeals to me as an only child because it’s equal parts fascinating and annoying. Plus I get to pee on sticks.
The presence of ketones in my urine doesn’t care if I felt awkward asking the waitress to return with a list of ALL the ingredients in the gravy, only to order something else.
They don’t care that it was your roommate’s birthday, and taking cake but not eating it is something serial killers do. The pee sticks don’t care that it’s weird to turn down homemade biscuits that were made especially for you, because you’re a guest, and someone loves you. The sticks make me a very dogmatic person. I am not fun at parties. I used to have goals like “finish your book,” now I only want to turn my sticks purple.
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I’ve done other diets, like eating mostly fruits & vegetables, cutting food in half & “drink 8 glasses of water a day & you won’t want to eat pop tarts.” They all work until they don’t. In my regular life, I eat when I’m hungry and tend to make reasonable, if not always admirable, choices.
But when I travel for comedy, all bets are off.
For the past five years, I’ve gained, on average, a pound every day I was on the road. Part of the problem is that the alcohol and fried food are free. The other problem is that very nice people want to take me to the best local pizza place and ask you if it’s better than the pizza in NYC. It never is.
So under the combined weight of social obligation & inertia, I let the weight creep on. Until I didn’t. I need to lose weight for a project, it’s not convenient, but it’s important to me. In order to achieve this goal while still traveling for comedy, I needed to learn how to be an asshole in other people’s stories.
I got comfortable inconveniencing friends, colleagues & wait staff.
Look, if you aren’t working against the clock, be reasonable. Follow the rule of thumb you wished you’d followed when you lost your virginity, “only let something that really turns you on, fuck you.” Delicious, lovingly made cupcakes using lavender from your host’s garden?! Have 7. Mindlessly munching on Sbarro while waiting in line for tickets for a friend of a friend’s band? Put the pizza down & learn to love yourself.
Here is quick guide
- What are your goals?
- To continue to lose weight on the road? The stricter & dumber, the better.
- To maintain your weight? Something sane, like halfsies.
- To not feel like garbage all the time? Quit comedy.
Prioritizing your diet, your goals, and yourself over other people is something you have to to do sometimes. But prioritizing a diet over connecting with the people and enjoying enriching experiences isn’t achieving your goals, it’s ruining your life…one miserable meal at a time.
There are a 1,000 ways someone can pressure you into eating food you don’t want. Are you meeting someone special’s parents? Is your mother in town? But no one can rape you with food. Draw a line and enforce your boundaries. Like a lot of things in life, the results you get come from the choices you make.