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This is why the trains don’t run on time

Crash dieting is not only bad for your health, it’s bad for the public transit system. Sick subway passengers were the third highest reason for subway disruptions in New York, with fainting dieters who haven’t eaten topping the sick list.

I’ve never fainted in my life. The closest I came was at the veterinarian’s office when I skipped breakfast to make the appointment in time. The room was hot and I felt myself getting dizzy and nauseous, though I was at exactly the wrong kind of doctor’s office to get sick. This is the kind of disaster you are courting when you skip breakfast, collapsing on a tile floor contaminated with doggie drool and parakeet poop. They fed me crackers and a glass of water and gave me a nice neck rub and I felt better. Okay, not the neck rub. But I probably would have sat up and begged for one if offered a good enough treat.

When you watch old TV shows or movies, women are fainting all the time, so you’d think we’d all be dropping like sacks of flour at the slightest sign of stress. Of course, if I’m extrapolating theories about real life from the movies I’d also think all women are bound to twist their ankles when fleeing zombies, as though we’re as fragile as thoroughbreds. The only girl I knew who fainted was Michelle in 2nd grade. She was in the classroom adjoining ours, so when they called the paramedics everyone in Ms. Smoot’s class came over to our room and we had impromptu story time. At least Michelle had the decency to time her fainting spell to break up boring interludes at school and not to make the trains run late.

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18 Comments

Jen • January 4, 2007 at 11:34 am

Who knows, maybe fragility is charming in some weird way. Fainting, ankle-twisting and the like just scream out for rescue. In the movies, it’s always some leading-man-type who rescues the fragile girl (think Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility), but in real life it would probably be some weird social-misfit-stalker type who would then use your moment of weakness as a way to get your telephone number, “Just so I can make sure you made it home OK.”

So fragility is overrated, IMHO.

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javajabber • January 4, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Okay, I just couldn’t let this one go … Ms. Smoot?

Now there’s a name that had to be hard to live with … and as a teacher, she’ll never be forgotten.

I’m not making fun of her name … I’m just saying it’s very memorable.

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K • January 4, 2007 at 12:08 pm

The only time I’ve ever fainted, it was entirely my own fault and nothing to do with lack of food. I was flicking through a memoir written by a girl with diabetes (the childhood-onset kind) and got to the bit where she describes what can happen to your eyes if, as part of some kind of teenage rebellion, you don’t take your insulin for a couple of years.

It’s not nice. I hit the deck. I’d probably also been standing still too long.

I did not feel charmingly fragile. Deeply embarrassed, more like, although I did get given a free coffee and a muffin.

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C. Froggenhall • January 4, 2007 at 12:16 pm

I’ve been dieting off and on since 1998, and I’ve never felt faint in my life. How long do you have to go without food to actually make yourself pass out?

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C. Froggenhall • January 4, 2007 at 12:23 pm

PS, the only time I ever thought I would pass out, was in a doctor’s office after having stitches removed from my wrist. (Kitchen window 1, my wrist 0.) I must have been holding my breath. I was definitely not dieting at the time.

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PastaQueen • January 4, 2007 at 12:26 pm

javajabber – Oh, it gets better. My 4th grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Horny. And my 5th grade teacher’s name was Janet Jackson, though she was a white woman in her 50′s who’d laid claim to the name long before the nipple flashing diva.

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Valerie • January 4, 2007 at 1:22 pm

My 4th grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Troll–it fit her perfectly!!!!

First time ever posting, PQ–you are sincere inspiration to me.

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Jester • January 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Years ago, I sprained my ankle, bent over to check it (leaning against my Mom’s car), and darn-near couldn’t straighten back up again because of the dizziness. Then I had to walk to the house and started seeing spots. I came very close to dropping like a stone.

A couple of years ago, when I again sprained an ankle (yes, I’m a klutz) and had to walk across my complex home, my manta the whole time was, “Don’t pass out. Don’t pass out.”

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Annie • January 4, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I have passed out a few times, one of them being at the vet’s office. The kitty I had at the time had got bit by a dog and it swelled up the size of a softball over night. So in the morning I had ran the kitty to the vet. I thought it was hot in the office. When the vet went to check out the kitty the place busted and nasty stuff went all over the place. I was already hot and felt like I couldn’t breath good, next thing I knew I was on his couch in the waiting area outside where he was working and being told I had blacked out and hit my head on the door way (where I had been watching him work on the kitty). I think I got a good discount for it cause he keep the cat for 3 days and got it all fixed up and I only got a bill for 35 bucks. LOL The other times I passed out I dropped at nursing homes and once getting blood taken. Not sure why I have done it. The cat was the only time there was really anything gross happen and normally gross don’t bother me unless it someone getting “sick” and that doesn’t make me passout..just turns me a few shades of green.

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lme • January 4, 2007 at 2:57 pm

I passed out once in a subway station in Berlin. I had been starving myself, and had just arrived in Berlin and had not yet slept. Basically went from the airport straight out with some German friends. So no sleep, plus no food, plus a few beers and then racing my then-husband up the stairs to the train platform made me pass out. The last thing I remembered before snapping out of it back in the room where we were staying was my legs buckling underneath me. Some stranger had ridden the train with my husband and helped carry me to the room.

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Rachel • January 4, 2007 at 6:39 pm

I saw a kid faint after he got his vaccinations. I was in line right after him and as soon as the lady administering the shots found out about my severe needle phobia she wouldn’t let me stand up for about five minutes after I got poked just in case I was going to faint, too. I didn’t, though. Fainting is for pansy southern belles. Even needle phobics have their limits.

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Monica • January 4, 2007 at 6:47 pm

Women used to faint a lot more because of the corsets and girdles they had to wear. They constrict both your circulation and breathing and a stressful situation can obviously aggravate it. That, and playing fragile to attract men. Just like they were supposed to giggle constantly and never say anything that might outsmart a man.

Okay, done with the rant.

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MonicaMay • January 4, 2007 at 10:44 pm

I feel faint after a day of not eating. Then, I overeat, and I end feeling even more faint. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. lol

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Erin • January 4, 2007 at 11:12 pm

I always thought fainting would be sort of elegant and romantic until I actually did faint during a choir concert in college and the only thing that happened was everything turned black, I sank to my knees on the steps of the church in which we were performing, and my professor audibly said “Jesus Christ” and just kept on conducting while my mom ran up and helped me off.

It was definitely one of the low points in my life, and I’ve found since then you can really only get away with it if you weigh 84 pounds and carry a lace handkerchief. Maybe I’ll aspire to that someday.

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Denny • January 5, 2007 at 6:02 am

Hi

Forgive me cos you’ve probably been asked this a million times before…presumably you’ve tried to diet in the past, why do you think this time was different? (was it the preparation and planning or your attitude or something else that inspired you in a way that you hadn’t been inspired before?)

You inspire me.

Denny

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christie • January 5, 2007 at 3:41 pm

I’ve never fainted either although I’ve felt close a couple of times. The closest was in grade school when I lived in Florida and we went on a field trip through some sort of bog. It was like 100 degrees and humid and the sun was staring down at me and I hadn’t eaten. But still, no fainting.

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Alpha Mom • January 9, 2007 at 1:58 pm

LOL!Reminds me of my very Victorian grandmother, who could faint on command when necessary to stop an argument between my dad and his brother. She ALWAYS managed to work her way around the room so she could faint into this certain easy chair. And it ALWAYS worked–ended the argument, with everyone fawning over her.

Come to think of it, she had had 2/3 of her stomach removed due to an ulcer [apparently state of the art treatment in that day...]. Maybe the poor woman was HUNGRY!

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A-M • May 19, 2011 at 5:29 am

Old post but it made me chuckle because the only time I have ever fainted was…on a subway train, or the tube as we say in London. I had been up all night in a hotel room, puking and pooping with a nasty stomach bug (sorry for tmi) and ruining my last holiday night in the capital. We had to get to the bus station to get our bus home, so we had to get the underground there. The combination of confined warm space, movement, tunnels, illness and lack of food set me off within 30 seconds. Poor ol’ husband had to carry me AND our luggage off at the next stop. We caught a taxi to the bus station. Above ground I was much better!

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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