"For vacation time in the summer I'm going to have some body sculpting done," a confident dining companion tells me over lunch. Holding up a potato chip, she talks to it and says, "No longer will I need to run from you. I'll be able to eat anything I want and the fat won't return." She digs in her lunch bag and pulls out three chocolate chip cookies packed neatly in a sandwich bag.
I glance down at my bag lunch in front of me. I don't have any chips. I don't have any cookies. And don't feel sorry for me thinking that I must only have carrot and celery sticks. My bag lunch has the same thing I've had every day for lunch for many years: a little deli turkey, a few pretzels and an apple.
"I've discovered the secret, and now I'm going to live. No more crummy diet fare for me," she says exuberantly as she takes a big bit of cookie. "I'm going to sculpt away all this fat and have it gone for good."
We talk about what that means.
"It sounds painful," I say. "Sculpting conjures up thoughts of a hammer and chisel. You know, Michelangelo style."
"Silly, that's not what happens. They use devices called cool-sculpting to isolate fat areas, zap them with a cold shot so that the fat cells die, and then they're gradually eliminated by your body. This will be a cinch."
"How do you know the fat will be gone for good?" I ask naively.
"Because they said so. I went to an information session and got a $50 gift coupon to put toward the procedures. You won't recognize me in a few months," she says.
"But I like you the way you are. We've known each other for years and we're both the way we are. Are you sure this is safe?" I continue.
"Sure it's safe. It's FDA safe. It's you-know-I-wouldn't-do-it-if-it-wasn't- safe safe," she responds with confidence and continues, "I'd share my cookies with you. I really would," she says as she holds out a cookie to me, "but the calories will just stay on you and they won't be staying on me any longer. You won't believe the lunches I'm going to have in the future."
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati.]
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