Another Column About Dieting

I knew it was time to start dieting again because when I would say, “I really need to lose some weight,” people stopped saying, “Oh, no, you look fine,” and started agreeing with me.

This happens every couple years, when my lazy, gastronomical lifestyle catches up with me and my pants don’t go on anymore. That’s when I realize it’s time to take drastic measures: It’s time to buy bigger pants.

For a while, I was curious just how fat I would get before I topped out and/or died. It was sort of a game, watching my gut get bigger and bigger. “Wow,” I’d muse. “It didn’t used to wear me out just getting up off the couch. And didn’t I used to be able to eat only ONE pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting…?” I was my own science project.

More to the point, though, I didn’t want to diet because so much of my social life revolves around food. When I arrive at the office each morning, after transcribing the obscene messages left on my voice mail, the next two hours are spent calling friends and associates to determine whom I will have lunch with, and where. It’s by far the thing toward which I exert the most energy. If I put forth this much effort in meditating, and if I were a Buddhist, I would have reached Nirvana ages ago.

I’ve been known to spend 20 minutes on the phone with my friend Tanny Tantan (names have been changed) just to figure out where we DON’T want to eat. We’ll sit in silence for a long time, thinking, and then one of us will say, “Not Chinese,” and then we’ll be silent a while longer, and then we’ll start conversing enthusiastically about something else, only to exhaust that topic and come back to where we started, working from a pool of choices that has been narrowed down only by one ethnicity.

But eventually, my expanding waistline gets to me, and I go on a diet, social life or no. I tend to lose weight quickly, I think because I send my body into shock. I go from eating 100 grams of fat a day to eating about 20 grams of fat a day, plus I’m jogging now, when the most exercise I usually get is from sneezing. So my body sees the sudden drop in fat consumption and says, “Crap! He’s dying!” Then, with the running, my body says, “Crap! He’s dying AND someone’s chasing him!” And we start getting rid of stuff that’s weighing us down, like we’re an airplane that’s lost an engine. All the excess items get tossed out. My appendix actually removed itself last week.

MY BODY: We don’t need THIS thing!
MY APPENDIX: (as it gets flung out) I regret nothing!

The jogging I do is on a treadmill at the gym. Most of my weight-loss, however, is in the locker room, where it’s humid and moist and everyone sweats like a monkey. Honestly, is it not possible to ventilate these rooms? It’s like the Biosphere Project in there, like they’re growing mushrooms or something. You have to hack through the jungle growth with a machete to find your locker, and then chase the toucans out of it when you do.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the locker room for the first time, aside from the tropical climate, was a door marked “DRESSING ROOM.” I thought, “Who are these girlie men who are too shy to change clothes out here in the open, like men do?” Then a man who was very old and very fat walked in and headed straight for the dressing room, and I thought: “Bless you, gym, for your foresight.”

I’ve been at this diet/jogging/sweating program for a few weeks now, and it’s paying off. I have a pair of Test Pants that I tried on the other day, and I was able to fasten them without calling the neighbor kids over for help. The next step is the Test Shirt, which currently accentuates the fat but which one day soon will, I hope, disguise it, as a good shirt ought. Then I can go back to eating again, provided we can agree on a place to go.

By my count, this was the fifth column I'd written that either mentioned or was entirely dedicated to my dieting and/or working out. For that reason, I tried not to write it for a while, desiring not to overdo the subject. But then I stumbled upon a few good jokes -- particularly the one about dying and being chased -- and decided they were too good to waste.

"I regret nothing!" is sort of a reference to "Mystery Science Theater 3000." They used it a few times as if it were a line from something else, but I was never able to determine from where. (I once interviewed one of the writer/performers, Mary Jo Pehl, and she didn't know where her fellow writers got it from, either.) They always used it in the context of someone jumping or falling from a great height; "The Simpsons" used it once, too, in the same context. At any rate, I like the idea of a self-sacrificing appendix yelling it as he dies for the greater good.