About six years ago, I read “You: On a Diet” by Dr. Mehmet Oz and it scared. the. hell. out. of. me.

Because Dr. Oz doesn’t just say, “Eating bad is bad and eating good is good.” He tells you EXACTLY what all that disgusting crap you eat does to your body. And take it from me, it’s not pretty. There’s plaque and pitted arteries and diabetes and cancer. Oh, and WRINKLES! Did you know that poor eating habits can give you wrinkles? That, there, was the final straw.

The day after I finished the book, I changed my life. Literally. Went cold turkey on sugar and white flour and saturated fat. Replaced them with whole grains, vegetables and the good kinds of fat. And you know what? It was shockingly easy.

Okay, maybe the first two weeks weren’t easy. Maybe there were headaches and tiredness and crabby moods. And maybe, just maybe, I considered stabbing bad drivers in the eyes more frequently than normal. But once I got past those first couple of weeks, it was truly the easiest “diet” I had ever been on.

And that’s because I never thought about it as a diet or a way to lose weight. My focus was entirely on getting healthy and avoiding wrinkles. But lo and behold, guess what? I DID lose weight. In fact, for the first time in my life, I lost weight without even trying. Dr. Oz said it would happen and it did. Healthy eating, in combination with cardio and strength training, put me in the best shape of my life at age 40. Is that crazy or what? I mean, people are always, “eat right and exercise, blah, blah, blah” but who believes those “people” anyway? Well, I’m here to tell you, as annoying as it is…they’re right.

This whole new way of life was so effortless that I maintained a steady, healthy weight for about 5 years. No way, I thought, will I ever go back.

But in May of last year, something happened that changed everything.

My dad suddenly died.

Heads up: This is the part where I fall off the wagon and it rolls right over me.

Now, I do not come from a family who starves itself out of grief. Quite the opposite. When my grandfather died the year before, my aunt brought home 6 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to help us get through. That came out to roughly a dozen per family member. It’s just what we do. Food comforts us and makes us feel better.

And so when my dad died, I was all, “Damn. My dad died. I totally deserve to eat this entire sheet cake from Costco. In one sitting. Every day of the week. For a month.”

Then last September, my cat got lymphoma and died. And I was all, “My cat died, TOO? WTF? I totally deserve to eat this entire loaf of French bread with extra butter. And gravy. And maybe some ice cream.”

Then earlier this year — because I’m 100% sane and not the least bit crazy — I decided to quit my job and start my own business. Which made me all, “Man, I’m stressed out and home all day by myself so I should make sure I always have a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge. Or on my desk. Or in my mouth. Whatever.”

But hey…why stop there? What if life decided to top all this awesomeness off with a big ol’ helping of “Surprise! Your 67 year-old mom has Alzheimer’s disease”?

Yeah…if you need me, I’ll be soaking in a vat of chocolate sauce.

Now, I’ll be honest. I’ve kind of enjoyed giving myself permission to eat whatever, whenever over the last year and half. So what if I’ve gained 5 10 15 pounds or so? I mean, come on. Did you hear about my dad, cat, job, mom?

But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about those wrinkles. And how menopause is just around the corner. And how both my parents’ genes are conspiring against me. And how great it is to feel strong and healthy. And yeah, how much the vain part of me ┬álikes trying on a size 4 and knowing it will fit.

So beginning tonight, I’m going to find that damn wagon and get right back on it. And starting this blog is the first step by helping me stay accountable. Some days I may just post about my meals and exercise. Other days…well, hang on for the ride because wagons have a tendency to be bumpy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go slather on some wrinkle cream.