The Old Days: Step on the scale. Make a sad face. Pick out something pretty at an expensive dress shop and work out a plan to lose 15 pounds for that special event in June.
The New Days: Pretend you can be like your friend Sheryl, who lost 40 pounds by sort of watching what she ate. Kick yourself two months later because you're not Sheryl.
OD: Pay memberships to two gyms, one near the house and one at work. Hire a trainer for better results.
ND: Save money by letting one membership lapse. Cancel the other when you get mad at them for calling you too often at work.
OD: Join a weight-loss club because the company pays part of the fee and it worked 10 years ago.
ND: Convince yourself you can get down to a size four by walking the dog around the block.
OD: Exercise like a lunatic and go to your meetings.
ND: Most gyms offer free two-week memberships. There are enough gyms in town to last several months, right? Give them the number of the cell you never use so they can't keep calling you.
OD: Cook terrific low-fat meals, paying no attention to the cost of ingredients.
ND: Eat from fast-food windows and M&M machines until the loose change is gone from your purse and car. Avoid scales and mirrors.
OD: Stick to your plan and lose a half a pound a week.
ND: Get so angry at work one day that, to feel better, you join one of the two-week places for real. Accept the free training session where they try to sell you more sessions that cost more than the membership.
OD: Hire the trainer, who is your age (coincidence?) and way ripped.
ND: Thank the trainer politely and pretend you'll remember the impossibly convoluted circuit he just showed you.
OD: Visit the dress shop for inspiration.
ND: Don't bother, it's probably closed.
Worry when your old gym advertises a $6-a-month special.
If they close, will everybody else's prices go up?
OD: Think happy thoughts on the treadmill, about a vacation in the islands.
ND: Watch the financial news and wonder if this can be good for your heart.
OD: Slap yourself for being vain and narcissistic when others have real problems.
You took a call at work from an 85-year-old Citrus County woman who can't buy food.
A homeowners association president is looking the other way as possible squatters fill an abandoned house.
In your own family, wage earners are moving hundreds of miles to stay employed, or taking work calls on religious holidays.
College funds are being bled dry.
A neighbor commutes across the bay and back for a company that lost nearly $3 billion last quarter.
ND: Feel fine about your quest to be Barbie in the dress. The thing about guilt is, none of us can afford it.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 269-5307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.