Let me show you how country feels

I have a small thing for former Girl Next Door Holly Madison. At least, I did, before she went and got knocked up. No offense to the child-bearing women of the world – because, miracle of life and all that jazz – but full-on pregnancy is among the least attractive states I can imagine, ranking just slightly better than the hunchback of advanced osteoporosis.

This does contradict my general feelings about natural beauty, of course, and is not going to win me any endearments. Still, despite every better rationale, pregnancy remains so much the alien concept to me that every time I see a pregnant woman I half keep watch for a mothership hovering nearby. It just seems the better explanation for an extended belly that is not a product of gluttony but instead the container of a writhing, gestating life form.

Pregnancy is not a condition I exactly figured I’d need to worry about; my concerns are far more superficial. Which is mostly why I was staring down Holly Madison in the first place. Her sparkling, unpregnant figure was front and center in a dated gossip magazine advertisement I’d come across at the salon. My interest was not so much in her but in the product she was touting, a diet pill, and for a moment I actually considered purchasing it.

If I’m really honest with myself, I’ll admit this is not the first time I’ve considered a get skinny quick scheme. I’ve  tossed out interest in acai berries or green coffee extract during rants about a few vanity pounds so regularly that my less accommodating friends instituted a zero tolerance policy. Whenever I get to whining, they hang up on me and stop returning my calls for a few weeks. That I went from a size 4 to a size 8 in the last few years does not impress them enough to care.

Seems that my workout routine, a comfortable mix of three hours of yoga every week, cardio bursts when the weather permits it, and random intervals of lunges, crunches, and jazzy grapevines during commercial breaks, can’t quite keep up with my fondness for bourbon and fine dining.

Wiser, gentler friends suggest cutting back on booze or working out even more. Sensible options to be sure, which would be lovely were I even remotely sensible.

I’m more of an instant gratification kinda chick. If I’m going to ditch five pounds – however temporarily, I do get that – practices need to be simple with snappy results. Case in point: My wedding dress diet consisted of caffeine-leaden green tea and the occasional carrot dipped in hummus. The theory was that I’d get a protein kick from the hummus and the tea would make me feel full – which it totally did, once I got past the grinding pangs of hunger.

Even more recently, I found myself trolling anorexia message boards. Harvesting tips from the experiences of diseased or otherwise delusional women was a new low. I’d be more ashamed of myself for such callousness if I hadn’t been driven to it by an unexpected blow.

We were heading up to the Bourbon Trail, my guy and I, after having just left Nashville. I loved it there. Nashville resembled a smaller New Orleans with its dusty neon and dogged musicians loading in at 10 a.m. All the fixings to make my country dreams come true were there, including an adorable lace-trimmed baby doll dress I picked up so I would fit in at the honky tonks.

To throw the dress in my suitcase for the ride to Bourbon Country seemed a travesty when there was so much country still to experience, so I donned it like the cute ‘lil thing from a Jason Aldean song that I envisioned myself to be.

We rolled up and down gorgeous hills in search of back roads and dirt roads, ate grits and gravy at a diner, and landed by chance at the doorstep of Heaven’s Hill. No more clichéd country town could ever hope to exist. And, whatdoyaknow, the town’s biggest lure was a sprawling whiskey distillery complete with museum and tasting room.

Six bourbon batch samples later and I was in heaven, indeed. Our server was an overly friendly woman prone to over explanation and toothy exclamations, the very kind I prefer to avoid. Still, her pours were liberal, so I was more inclined to chat as my guy settled our tab.

“Where are y’all from?” transitioned to “Where are y’all going?” and conversation was genteel enough, that is, until the bomb dropped.

“So,” she chirped. “When are y’all due?”

Due to what – renew my firearm owner’s card? She asked the question with such optimism and lack of guile I couldn’t hide my confusion. An expectant look toward my belly and I knew: She thought I was pregnant.

So many questions paraded through my head I could hardly focus. The loudest of them all, of course, was “Do I really look pregnant?” Four hours ago I’d been certain of my cuteness. Four hours ago I’d been the carefree country girl with her toes on the dashboard. In an instant, I felt ridiculous. I felt fat. I felt seething venom that I couldn’t keep from hissing at her.

“Do pregnant women often plow through 14 ounces of bourbon in your establishment?”

I instantly regretted the question because I remembered: I was in Kentucky. They probably do.

She back-pedaled and apologized and tried to make nice, but the damage was done. Two weeks later my BFF Google presented me with all the skinny tricks I could swallow. One girl suggested keeping the house at least 10 degrees colder. Apparently shivering burns more calories. Another had the genius idea of eating with a teaspoon. The winner? Punching yourself in the stomach whenever you get hungry.

Really? I may be vain, I may be unaccommodating and egotistical and occasionally unlikeable, but I do know when I am toeing the line of idiocy. I quickly backed away from the Google and sought more reputable advice elsewhere.

Turns out, small changes are easier to implement than I expected. Tempeh has made its way into our dinners each week in place of meat, and despite my guy’s insistence that it looks like something found in a sand trap on a golf course, it’s surprisingly tasty. I’m sucking down more water than ever before, I’ve replaced white flour with spelt, and yes, I’m trying to work out more.

My booze intake will never change, but I’m okay with that. Besides, if all else fails, there’s always Anorexia Tip #72: Tapeworm.

How bad can it be?

The offending dress has been relegated to the back of my closet. It has a limited fashion radius of Nashville's main drag only.

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