During Michael Jordan’s basketball camp, three of us were lounging one night when a longtime friend of ours came into town. He told us of a diet he’d received via email or text or some other form of modern communication. It was entitled “21 Day Eating Challenge for Serious Hoopers.” At first glance, it looked interesting although upon closer inspection, it seemed as though there were some serious “holes” in it.
Here, in its entirety, is the diet. No candy, No chocolate, No chips, No white bread, No fast food, No ice cream and No soda.
We started talking about it. There was no money nor any consequences for anyone “winning” or “losing.” It was just a personal challenge. One man’s pleasure seemed to do nothing for another. Yet, it seemed that each of us had at least one item that could give us trouble.
As far as I was concerned, I thought I would be a lock to complete it unscathed - for one main reason: it was only for three weeks. I can keep from doing anything for three weeks, except for vital human functions, e.g. breathing, trips to the bathroom AND talking and rocking. I could say that rocking chairs and gliders are a must for my back (and they are now) but the fact remains that I’ve always preferred those chairs above any others. When it comes to talking, ask anyone who’s known me for at least 10 minutes and you’ll understand 21 minutes might have been a deal breaker, never mind 21 days.
Now, about those “holes.” It seems as though sugar is a no-no yet there’s no mention of excluding sugar from coffee or, for that matter, cakes or pies. A few days later, I called the friend who’d introduced us to the diet to tell him as much, only to hear him say, “Oh yeah, I have an apple pie in the oven right now.”
As far as the seven “No’s,” I haven’t had white bread in years and of all the others, 21 days without any of the other six didn’t seem so daunting. I really enjoy Diet Mountain Dew, especially while driving and since I had a five hour trip ahead of me when camp concluded (in eight days), I asked if diet soda counted. Naturally, the other three guys (none of whom drank diet soda) vehemently stated that soda was soda and partaking of diet would be considered a violation.
While I enjoy all the rest, in my mind, I could handle three weeks without any of them easily. It was interesting to hear the other guys, all of whom are many years younger than I am - and each in infinitely better shape - talk about the difficulty they felt they’d have, ranging from a love of any of the items on the list with the exception of my second (maybe even tied for first) favorite, fast food.
We all agreed we’d try it - on the honor system (kind of like the NCAA expects their members to do: self-report). One of us, I think it might have been me, mentioned this was the 2014 version of the masturbation contest from Seinfeld. Sure enough, the very next day (nearly as fast as Kramer had lost), the “Florida” entry called and said, “Can I start tomorrow? I just had some chocolate milk.” Naturally, we gave him a mulligan (which was probably the reason there was no money riding on the outcome). It didn’t matter. A couple days ago, he said he fell victim to Swedish fish and a Slurpee at the movies with his family. No shame.
And then it was three. There was text confirmation from the rest of us that all of us were still “chaste.” Last night, with only four days to go, our family went to our favorite Japanese restaurant. Without thinking (at least on my part), we each ordered dinners as opposed to a la carte. After I dug into the ice cream (that, along with two measly shrimp, make up the difference between dinner and a la carte), Alex (who knew about the challenge) said to me, “I can’t believe you’re eating that ice cream.”
Damn! Of all the ways to lose. One crummy scoop of vanilla ice cream. At a Japanese restaurant. If I was going to lose on ice cream, at least let me go down because I busted out a pint of Haagen Daz pineapple coconut. Or a king size Snickers. Or a Whopper with cheese at the King. With a bag of Fritos. And a Diet Mountain Dew.
Well, once I took that first bite, I could see no reason not to polish it off. I’m sure there will be other “challenges” down the road. I guess when it comes to willpower, I subscribe to the satirist Oscar Wilde:
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”