Joanne Palmer: I’m on a complaining diet
January 4, 2012
I am on a diet!
No, not that kind of diet. I am smart enough to know that when it comes to food, I have zero willpower.
Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Yes, I should be typing this while atoning for my holiday sins by nibbling on celery and carrot sticks, but have you ever wondered why these foods have the word "sticks" in their names? Exactly. They taste like the thing you ask your dog to retrieve: a stick.
This is the season for hot chocolate lavished with whipped cream, chili loaded with cheese and satisfying comfort food like chicken pot pie.
Let's get serious, there are only three ways to undo the holiday food overload.
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1 Do what bears do: Hibernate in a cave for a couple months and sleep away the fat. Ooooh, I like this idea.
2 Book a trip for yourself to Antarctica and snowshoe with the penguins. Don't come back until the holidays are long gone.
3 Spend more time at the gym (My choice.)
The diet I've embarked on is harder than a food diet. It does not involve counting calories, portion control or eating more proteins than carbs. It simply involves biting your tongue. It is the complaining diet.
I was inspired to begin the diet by my mate. (Remember him? The nice guy who went to Catholic school.) We were at a certain social function when he gave me "the look." He rarely gets mad at me (the Catholic school thing again), but when I get "the look," I know I am getting on his nerves. All he has to do is drop his chin a bit and stare at me with his beautiful blue eyes, and I know it's time to change the subject.
I am here to tell you that not complaining isn't easy. For the first 24 hours, I was rendered almost speechless (maybe that was his goal). My tongue was sore from biting it, and I resembled a fish gasping for air on dry land when my mouth flapped open only to close again with no words coming out.
What fun is it to go to the grocery store without making a few comments about the footwear of some of our visitors? Well, no fun at all, but I did it. What about making a few snarky remarks about the lack of white stuff on the ground? Well, I've been enjoying dog walking in the sunshine instead. Lamenting with friends about company leaving wet towels on the floor? Tempting, really tempting, but I kept my big mouth shut.
One of my all-time favorite writers, Martha Beck, has some additional suggestions on how to quit complaining:
■ For a period of time, say a week or a month, stop complaining aloud about anything to anybody.
■ When the urge to fuss arises, vent on paper. Start with the words I'm upset about. Then describe whatever is bothering you.
■ Think of at least one thing you can do to actually change the frustrating situation. Write it down. If you can't think of any positive action steps, simply continue to resist venting out loud. Eventually, your frustration will increase until you think, "I'm so upset, I just want to _!" Write down what you want to do.
■ Do it. Divorce the guy, cuss in front of your fundamentalist sister, put off lunching with the passive-aggressive "friend" until the end of time.
I've slipped up a few times in the past few weeks, but it gets a little easier every day not to complain.
Join me in the complaining diet. Not complaining can be contagious. Try it, and let me know how it goes!