By Lynn Haraldson-Bering
If you’re a maintainer and you hang out with people in maintenance, you find out just how normal you are, even though to the SAD (Standard American Diet) world you’re considered strange.
As you know, I went to Connecticut last weekend to meet the other four members of my maintenance support group, Maintaining Divas. While we talked a bit about maintenance, it was in our actions – the way we food shopped, cooked and ate both at AJ’s house and in restaurants – where our commitment to maintenance shined. Like most things grand and difficult, it’s easy to talk about maintenance. But we show our true mettle when we walk the walk.
My flight arrived early and Vicki’s flight was late, so Sondra, AJ, MA and I sat around the baggage claim getting familiar with each other’s voices and mannerisms. After all, it was the first time we’d met in person. I was a little hungry and so I dug out the whole grain crackers and cherry essence prunes I’d packed in my suitcase and shared them with my friends. Vicki soon arrived and we left for AJ’s. It didn’t take long to realize we were in the house of a maintainer. Dozens of healthy living cookbooks were stacked on a baker’s rack, a big bowl filled with apples, pears, and peaches sat on the counter next to three butternut squash, and in the fridge were zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, eggs, yogurt, edamame, skim milk, low-fat cheese, and several containers of leftovers. AJ, who celebrated four years at goal on September 8, knows maintenance.
Vicki (in the peach shirt) arrives at the airport, hugged by MA, with AJ on the left and me on the right.
We chose to eat at Houlihan’s for dinner and I was relieved when no one blinked an eye when I gave the server my nightmare order that usually elicits eye rolls from my dining companions: BBQ Salmon Salad without salmon, wonton strips or sweet citrus vinaigrette, but instead, add a bunch of tomatoes and put balsamic dressing on the side. Oh, and a plain baked potato with a little butter on the side. And a side of steamed broccoli, no butter.
At Houlihan's: me, Frank (AJ's husband who didn't seem to mind having four women invade his house), AJ, Sondra, Vicki and MA.
The next day (as on Sunday) we ate breakfast at AJ’s – lots of fruit, Fiber One cereal (that was Sondra, not me. Fiber One and I are not good friends, unfortunately), and veggie omelets. We went shopping and when we got hungry, we at lunch at Ruby Tuesdays where we ordered the salad bar – an impressive array of veggies, edamame, light dressings and my favorite dark green lettuces, not my nemesis iceberg, something that shouldn’t be allowed to call itself lettuce, but I digress.
Later we had coffee and then went home to chop veggies for dinner. For myself (and I shared), I roasted squash, carrots, zucchini, onions, asparagus and broccoli. Sondra sautéed a bunch of things to put on their whole-wheat pasta. I think they had shrimp, too. I was going to have a soy burger but opted for some parmesan cheese on my veggies instead. We swapped cooking techniques and spice preferences, and talked about men and work and the economy and the election and dogs and cats and hair color and pedicures and vitamins and doctors and, well, you get the idea. This weekend was not focused on food and deep discussions about maintenance. That’s what people do at a conference or convention. This was a gathering of friends who happened to meet because we’d lost 651 pounds and needed someone to talk to about it once in awhile. Most of the while, we talked about other stuff. And took lots of photos.
Making breakfast for Vicki and me.
Lest you think us food tyrants, we Divas were not without snacks once in awhile. A few soy crisps, some hummus, fat-free pudding mix stirred into Greek yogurt, and a couple of fat-free brownies that we shared over wine and mead around midnight were treats we enjoyed in reasonable quantities, although I admit my stomach was a bit thrown off by the late-night eating. Amazing how conditioned our stomachs get to a schedule.
Vicki in her pjs and MA holding the mead.
I didn’t expect the saying goodbye to be so hard. In less than 48 hours, I formed a lasting bond with women I’d not have otherwise known were out there in the world without a similar commitment to weight loss and maintenance as mine. It’s not every day you meet folks like that, so saying goodbye was a little tough. But back at our respective homes, we took up where we left off, typing our messages to each other daily on our discussion board, only this time I can hear their voices in their words and see their expressions and smiles in their syntax and language.
We agree we are better maintainers and better friends for having met last weekend and we’re already planning our next get-together. We feel safe in each other’s presence to live the lives we find ourselves living in maintenance. This doesn’t mean we’re not safe or comfortable with people who are living the SAD life. Far from it. It’s just really nice to gather with a group of folks who “get it.” No apologies, no explanations, no excuses. Just an understanding among friends.
AJ, Lynn, Vicki, MA and Sondra: The Maintaining Divas. All good divas deserve a maintenance tiara :)