Shelley was in the middle of a series of swing kicks at the far end of the living room. Pauline approached her slowly with her arms defensively covering her face.
“So, Matt says you’re on the Neanderthal diet’?”
Shelly shook her head. “It’s not a diet. It’s a live-it. We set goals and then demolish them!” She struck her palm with her fist.
“Oh.” Pauline lowered her arms. “That’s a little extreme, but it could be what I’m looking for.”
“You’re ready to shake things up, aren’t you?”
Pauline nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”
“The big thing I’m sharing with my clients now is the Bakeology movement,” Shelley said. “The lady who came up with it is literally the Mother Teresa of nutrition. She even has her own jet.”
“How does it work?”
“There’s a whole menu of options: You eat a Bakeology muffin for breakfast, Bakeology pizza for lunch, Bakeology not-meatloaf for dinner. They’re packed with all the super-duper foods. You can eat as much as you want, but you’ll barely get through the recommended serving.”
“It’s that filling?”
“No, it just doesn’t taste good.” She retrieved a wrapped object from her backpack. “Here, try this slider. It’s a quinoa/kale-blended patty with chipotle vegan mayo on a gluten-free bun. I keep a bunch in my bag. They last for days.”
Gamely, Pauline took a bite, suddenly stopping mid-chew as if she’d chipped a tooth.
“Oh God, this is awful!”
“See?” Shelly smiled as Pauline wiped her tongue with a cocktail napkin. “But it’s totally clean, which is the important thing. We call it ‘working out while eating.’ You notice how it’s an effort just to keep it down? ‘No pain, no gain’ shouldn’t just apply to the gym. Basically, if we enjoy our food, it distracts us from our journey. It’s like texting while driving. Except if you wreck your car, you can just replace it with a better one. This is the only body you’ll ever have.” She patted her stomach, which felt softer than she’d like. She frowned. “Anyway, it’s totally Big Food that convinced us what we eat has to taste good. You think neanderthal men sat around savoring flavors and textures? No way! They just consumed the necessary fuel to outrun dinosaurs!”
Gina, standing next to Margaret by the fireplace, whispered into her wine glass. “I would appreciate it if that girl wouldn’t push her BS ‘business’ on my friends. It’s like she’s throwing a Tupperware party in my own home.”
“It’s OK,” Margaret said. “Believe me, Pauline wants this. ”
“The only thing she needs to change about her eating habits is her pacing. My highlights fade waiting for her to finish a sandwich.”
“Haven’t you noticed Pauline’s been in a bad place?”
“Sure, but it has nothing to do with her dress size.”
“Walter’s apparently been really difficult lately. ”
“You act like you’re spoiling a movie I already saw back in college. He’s always been obnoxious, but to be fair, she’s a little on the dull side. That’s their thing. If we can manage both of them at once, they can handle each other.”
“Well, I think this will help her.”
“No one ever got less dull on a diet,” Gina said.
“What I meant is Pauline and Walter have become disconnected and it’s because she doesn’t feel good about herself so she can’t feel good about them.”
“Even if… whatever you said is true, how can that person Matt brought here possibly help?”
“It’s a start. Pauline just wants to feel comfortable enough to start Crossfit.” Margaret poured more wine into her glass. “I don’t know. It just seems like she is dealing with her problems more constructively than Sara did.”
Gina raised a blonde eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
“She just walked out of her own home. She didn’t try to resolve her marital issues constructively. And look at her now. It’s frankly maladaptive. “
“Oh,” Gina said, turning to leave the room, “I’d forgotten you’d minored in psychology.”
— from THE WRONG QUESTIONS