21st Century Diet Plan
by Mad Dog
61 percent of
Americans are overweight and one in five is obese. Yes, our figures
look as bad as those figures.
not easy being American. Not only do we have to put up with the XFL,
the Puffy Combs trial, and Regis Philbin twice a day most days, we
also have to listen to people from other countries accuse us of
being loud, obnoxious, arrogant, badly dressed, and fat. Come on
now, we’re not all badly dressed.
And truth be told, we’re
not all fat, though it’s getting close. We can deny it all we
want, just like those McDonald’s wrappers we swear were under the
seat when we bought the brand new car, the photos we didn’t notice
alongside the articles in last month’s Penthouse, and the fact
that we know everyone’s name and vital statistics on “Temptation
Island” but have never
seen the show, but it won’t get us anywhere. The proof is
According to figures
released by the Centers for Disease Control (motto: “So many
microbes, so little time after taking a long lunch”) 61 percent of
Americans are overweight and one in five is obese. In other words,
our figures look as bad as their figures. This means that if you
look around and see four people who are within a normal weight
range—for our purposes defined as being smaller than Louis
Anderson and larger than Calista Flockhart—then you probably
should stay away from mirrors for a while.
“But it’s not just
us,” you’re saying as you wonder why your new La-Z-Boy recliner
didn’t come with the built-in Slim Jim dispenser you requested.
“There are fat people all over the world.” That’s true, though
unfortunately most of them are American tourists.
Experts say we
should get 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. This
can be in the form of walking, swimming, aerobics, or thinking hard
about what excuse to use today for not doing any of the above.
This public health hazard may help explain the findings
released by the World Health Organization (motto: “Take over two
countries and call us in the morning”). It showed that out of 191
countries, the United States ranked as the 24th most likely to spawn
Gérard Depardieu. Just kidding. Actually it was ranked number 24
according to how many years people can expect to live in “full
health.” This really isn’t so bad. After all, it’s not like we
were at the bottom of the list along with Ethiopia, Botswana, and
Uganda. Hah! And people say we have no excuse for being loud,
obnoxious, and arrogant.
We can, and should, curb
this trend. Doctors say that losing weight can bring about immediate
benefits to our cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune systems, not
to mention their bank accounts. But you have to do it correctly. Fad
diets, dangerous drugs, and permanently gluing your scale to 115 lbs
isn’t the answer. These simple guidelines are:
1. Eat less. Take smaller portions,
stop eating before you feel full, and move to Brazil. A fifth of Rio
de Janeiro’s, and half of Sao Paolo’s, restaurants now charge by
weight. The food’s, not yours, which is a relief. You can get
rice, beans, spaghetti and beef for around $7 a kilo, or fancy
Italian food for $13.50 a kilo. So if the prospect of high blood
pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and having to buy two airplane
tickets so you can lift the arm rest and be comfortable isn’t
enough to stop you from taking huge portions, maybe having to pay
more money to overfill your plate will.
sleep results in too little growth hormone and too large a spare
tire. The answer is to sleep more. Not only will you lose weight,
but you’ll have fewer waking hours during which to avoid mirrors.
||2. Exercise more. Experts
say we should get 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.
This can be in the form of walking, swimming, aerobics, or thinking
hard about what excuse to use today for not doing any of the above.
But exercise doesn’t just help you lose weight, it has additional
advantages. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, releases
chemicals in the brain which give you a sense of well-being, and, if
you’re a man, can improve your sex life. Researchers working on
the Massachusetts Male Aging Study (motto: “We’re not getting
older, we’re just getting better at denial”) found that men who
exercise are less likely to become impotent. As word of this gets
around you can expect to see more men jogging through the streets,
giving new meaning to “Keeping it up with the Joneses.”
3. Sleep more. As we age, not only does
our eyesight, hearing, and, uh, uh....memory go downhill, but so
does the quality of our sleep. A study at the University of Chicago
(motto: “We’re out of the Loop”) discovered that as men grow
older, the slow-wave—or most restful part of their night’s
sleep—grows shorter. The problem is that this is the phase of
sleep during which a growth hormone is produced that affects lean
tissue. Thus, too little sleep results in too little growth hormone
and too large a spare tire. The answer is to sleep more. Not only
will you lose weight, but you’ll have fewer waking hours during
which to avoid mirrors.
Move out of the suburbs. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (motto: “The same as it
was in the third paragraph”) thinks suburban life may be to blame
for adult obesity having increased 60 percent over the past decade.
Since homes, schools, malls, and Ben & Jerry’s are all more
spread out, people are less inclined to walk. This in turn causes
suburbanites to spread out more. Thus, moving to the city could help
you lose weight. Especially if you walk there.
Remember, as with any
weight loss program, slow, steady results are best. But if we all
stick with it, before you know it Americans on the whole will look
better, feel better, and our life expectancy ranking will shoot up.
Now if we can only do something about being loud, obnoxious,
arrogant, and badly dressed.
Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them on the way to Brazil to sleep more and live in the city.