This phase passes, though, and you get into a routine. A soul-crushing life-draining routine that will either be all for naught or last the rest of your life. It's a good thing. You get used to eating things that they clearly had yet to discover in Iraq if they were still resorting to primative torture like raping a guy's wife or whipping the soles of his feet. Those are nice little tortures to be sure, but they're not the big guns. You want to watch a man crack, feed him nothing but soy chips while the fellow across the way enjoys a decadent piece of chocolate mousse cake or a nice plate of fries. Just make sure he doesn't have any sharp objects in his cell, if you'd like him alive.
During the routine phase of the diet your stomach shrinks, your hunger starts to fade away, and you lose the will to live. Ha ha, just kidding. The hunger never really fades. But you do get used to what you're doing. For example, every morning now I have one serving (read half a thimble full) of cream of wheat and a protein drink that tastes like sand dilluted with sewage water. It says chocolate on the package, but that label was clearly put on by poor Indonesian children who've never seen, let alone tasted, chocolate. It's what you'd think chocolate would taste like if your english was horrible and you thought it was a synonym for pond scum. If Oliver Twist had been offered this breakfast he would never have asked for more and gotten that beating. I'm getting used to it though. I no longer believe that an unanesthetized vasectomy would be preferable to another one of those shakes. Things are looking up.
During the routine period you reach a weird stage during which you get massive food cravings and feel like you could eat seven wildebeast and a side of couscous, but in fact when you start to eat you fill up on the parlsey garnish (NEVER, and I mean never, eat wildebeast without parsley. It's criminal.) You spend the vast majority of the time either doubled over from crippling hunger or feeling like your guts are about to explode out of your belly like a chestburster with a poor sense of direction. You're either lightheaded or sluggish, sometimes both at the same time.
This is even more true on the Atkins diet, which dares you to eat as much as you'd like of foods you're sure to be sick of after about hour 4. Have you ever tried to subsist on only salami and sour cream? Give it a couple days and you'll start wondering if Soylent Green is a real product, only because it's probably low in carbs and at least it would taste different. Atkins is just calorie counting all gussied up. Whether you stop eating because you're told to or because the idea of one more piece of string cheese fills you with so much loathing that you buy a copy of Mein Kampf and replace "Der Juden" with "Smarmy Parots" the result is the same. Controlled semi-starvation.
But at least you're losing weight, right? Of course you are. Maybe. The human body is a complicated thing, capable of gaining weight even when all you're feeding it is watercress and ephedra (and if you're feeding it anything besides that then you're going to blow up like a Macy's Thanksgiving parade float. Seriously, even one bite of that hot dog and on your next visit to Seaworld Shamoo is going to eye you as a potential mate.) Nobody really knows how a diet will affect a person. Some people can eat Chickenfried Steak for breakfast and lunch, with a dinner of deep fried ice cream and still retain rippling abs (these are the people who you plan to kill first after you perfect your Scanners style head-explosion powers) while others can down nothing besides a couple of bottles of diet water (Now with less hydrogen) and have it immediately settle atop their necks in the form of a fifty-eighth chin (these are the people you hope never to see.) Most diets warn that you will see weight fluctuations and that the important thing is that you trend downwards. Unfortunately some of the fluctuations look like October 29 1929 in reverse. That's okay though, over time if you stick to your diet and cut off a few apendages you ought to find the scale heading downwards.
That's when the plan will tell you that you're losing weight too quickly. You may be confused at first, ignorant of how it's possible to lose weight too fast. You idiot. It turns out that if you take off the pounds anywhere near as fast as you'd like (read 1/4th as fast as you put them on) you are putting yourself at risk for serious issues like loss of bone and muscle mass and agonizing death. The human body is constructed in such a way that if it is getting too little food it will panic, save the fat stores for later, and start munching on muscle and unimportant organs like the liver heart and brain. Isn't that a hoot? That wacky God, always up to his tricks. This means that unless you lose weight at a reasonable rate (like 2 pounds a year, except on leap years where you can lose 2.0055) you will quickly become weak and sickly, as well as shooting your metabolism so far down that it will actually absorb all the nutrients it needs from the chocolate cake laden breath of your skinny officemate.
So you slow it down, you find the very thin range between "Getting fatter" and "starving to death" and stick it out for the 10 years it takes to get rid of that unsightly bulge in your trousers. Then you get to go on what they call maintenance. This means eating enough so that you don't turn into a skeleton but not enough that you pack on the pounds. Fortunately by now your body has adjusted so well that this means you'll be eating less than when you started your diet in the first place. Good deal.
I could go on, talk about the inevitable yo-yo effect where you end up not only bigger than you were before but profoundly aware of all the cheesecake you missed out on during your venture into slightly thinner land, or the sabotage you'll encounter from friends and aquaintances who urge you to just have a taste of whatever 3000 calorite concoction they're consuming, or even the joys of loose skin if you do succeed, leaving you with enough extra epidermis to sew some pockets in and create a pouch for your joey. But I'm not.
Instead, I'm going to go look for my socket wrench.