2 Legit 2 Quit Dieting

How trying to fit into a pair of parachute pants from 25 years ago became an obsession

For 25 years, a pair of pants have hung in my closet—the MC Hammer parachute pants that I've never stopped loving but had to stop wearing. They've lasted five presidential administrations and three cross-country moves. I'm hoping to fit back into them someday.

Actually, they never fit. When I bought these 32-inch-waist pants, I was a size 34, but I was sure they'd inspire me to lose weight. I wore them, top unbuttoned, belly busting, with my belt buckle concealing my secret. For 25 years, they've been hanging on–crying, lonely and clinging to the life they almost had (much like the real MC Hammer). Just wait, I think, until I get back down to 184 pounds.

I've tried on similar pants at size 38, but the extra fluffiness makes me look like a washed-up genie who granted himself three wishes: all milkshakes. I've stood by the goal of weighing 184 pounds for decades and I've gotten close a number of times. It's been something of an obsession.

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In fact, it would be terribly embarrassing if anyone read my journal. Not because of deep, dark secrets, but because most of my entries sound like a 16-year-old girl: "I feel so fat, I'm bloated." I might as well add, "Tiffany is really getting on my nerves."

Last December, I got on the scale and weighed 193. I vowed to start dieting again right after the holidays. But in late January, Girl Scout cookies went on sale! How could I not support the troops? Then in February, there were Valentine's Whitman samplers and just because I wasn't dating didn't mean that I couldn't eat for two.

I pretend to eat healthily but really, what's the difference between granola and crumbled cookies? I don't eat candy bars—I eat fiber bars, cereal bars and energy bars. It's still sugar! Eating out, I disguise my unhealthy choice by ordering fries "for the whole table."

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"Sir, aren't you eating alone?"

"Yep, me and my table."

I weigh myself once a week in the morning, making sure I've had my morning constitutional before getting on the scale so I'm at my absolute lightest. I'm an eternal hostage to my weight, which lately has been hovering around 191. My mood is determined by whether I have lost or gained a pound.

Two weeks ago, I began working out every day on the elliptical, never ate after 7 PM and stayed away from desserts and bread. I couldn't wait to get back on the scale. When I did I was I mortified and depressed—I didn't lose an ounce!

Then I realized how good it felt all week to wake up after not eating late at night, staying away from bread and desserts, and just plain not overeating. Why was I letting the scale ruin what I knew was a healthy and joyful way of life? Why, aside from those pants, was I obsessed with weighing 184? For 25 years, that goal has represented youth and vitality. Everything in my life would be perfect if I weighed 184 pounds and wearing my Hammertime pants.

The truth is that it's taken my entire adult life to finally love and accept my body. And now that I have, I'm throwing away the scale. Yes, my Hammertime pants still hang in the closet, and I'm perfectly OK when I hear it singing, "You can't touch this!"