Although I am only a nutritionist, I want to share with you a new theory I’ve developed. It’s a syndrome called “cleaning the house before the housekeeper comes.”I have a housekeeper who comes every two weeks to clean up the areas of my house that I’ve missed the previous two weeks. Before she shows up, I feel compelled to do a thorough housekeeping job. When my husband first saw me doing this, he asked, simply, “Why?”“Because,” I said, “What will she think of us if she finds the house dirty?”In a nutshell, that’s the syndrome I’ve discovered. It’s a syndrome that can be applied to more than just housekeeping. Another example is what my mother has done. When I was small, living in Damascus, Syria, every time our family was invited to someone else’s house for dinner, my mother would make us all sit down and eat a full meal. While she was cooking, I heard my father ask her why she was cooking like this just before going as guests for dinner at our friends’ house.“Because I don’t want them to think that we don’t feed our children. If they eat too much when we get there, they will think badly of us.”Inevitably, we would be so full that we could only eat a few bites before giving up. Of course, being Arabs, our hosts would try to force more food on us, but we would smile and say, “no thank you.” My mother was very happy, shaking her head in approval at our polite demeanor. Of course, the host was never able to understand how a group of chubby children, which we all were, could eat so little and stay fat.This syndrome was carried even further recently when I told my husband that I wanted to firm up my body. I was interested, I told him, in having my fat and my muscles all marching in the same direction when I walked down the street. He then spoke to a personal trainer at the fitness center where he goes to lift weights, who said he would be happy to teach me how to firm up.So when he told me that he’d talked to the trainer, I rushed to buy a book on exercising and weight training and I religiously started walking on a treadmill. I have my husband feel my bicep muscles every day when he comes home from work. “I thought you were going to join the fitness center,” he asked me.“I’ll go as soon as I’m firmed up,” I told him. “Do you expect me to go to the fitness center while I’m still flabby?” I asked him, indignantly.“If you’re doing this well,” my husband said, “maybe you can save the money and not join the fitness center.”“No way.” I replied. “Now the trainer knows that I’ve been flabby, and what will he think if I don’t show up now? I have to go, but I have to be firmed up and really fit before I do go.”Not wanting to start a discussion that would only give him a headache at the end, without any results, my husband walked away, shaking his head.