SEATTLE -- Here we are in the Land of Eggs Benedict. Calorie Lane. Cream Cheese Country. With us is our guide -- the Doyenne of Diet, Jenny Craig.
Jenny is smiling, entering the Georgian Room of the Olympic Four Seasons at a clip, hand extended for a congenial handshake. She's on a nationwide book promotion tour, talking about "Jenny Craig's What Have You Got to Lose?" It's a stop on one of those fast-paced, city-to-city tours where regular diet and exercise could go out the window.
She's 5 feet 4 inches tall, 122 pounds. She looks good, at least 15 years younger than 59. I think: Maybe she's wearing cast iron undergarments, maybe she secretly binges, maybe I can tempt her into revealing hidden food longings, proving that, after all, the national symbol of weight control has potential to run amok among cheese balls.
I ran 15.5 miles in three days in preparation for this day. Breakfast in the Georgian Room. I have foregone the temptations of the gala beat -- chocolate decadence, strawberry shortcake -- and had salad for lunch for a week when my heart yearned for scones with clotted cream.
I will -- in the presence of the queen of diet -- order eggs Benedict, a sweet roll on the side and a waffle or two.
Will she flinch?
Inside that sweet demeanor over which the nation's eye watches ("Oh, No. No! Jenny, not a cream puff!") is there a heart yearning for the artery-hardening, grease-laden, bacon-cheeseburger?
She apologizes for being late, there was an earthquake in her hometown -- Del Mar, near Los Angeles, and she had to check on the welfare of her husband, the state of their swimming pool.
Ah ha! Stress as reason for eating. Page 188.
So what will she have for breakfast? She says she's already had oatmeal in her room because it's easier to do an interview when you're not eating. I figure this is from Page 229,"Dealing With Saboteurs," and Page 241, "Socializing Without Overeating." d dTC must rethink the plan, but it's useless. We're off and talking about her program: weight management, as opposed to the D word, diet.
She explains there are ways of dealing with anybody and any social setting, the emotions that trigger overeating, ways to help you manage your weight. If you manage your weight, you can eat small portions of the things you want to eat, balancing everything with exercise.
Of course all of us, given the opportunity, will occasionally throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the 50 tempting selections at the dessert buffet. But if you do, she says, don't give up the entire program. Remember tomorrow always is another day. Page 186.
Is it difficult being the national symbol of weight control, having your fortune hinge upon your weight?
Sometimes it is, she says. She's followed at grocery stores by customers who ask her if she endorses certain products. When she eats at restaurants, other diners ask waiters what she had for dinner.
Or breakfast . . .
She's sipping her coffee with time to kill. Waiters are buzzing past with trays of delectables. She doesn't seem to notice.
I modify my breakfast attack: It's fruit and yogurt.