I Was a Male Weight Watcher

I think the moment I realized that I might have some “food issues” was when I found myself down on the floor using my right knee and a paper towel to jam ice cream into a measuring cup. I was on Weight Watchers at the time, and I managed to stuff about a half gallon of mint chocolate chip into a container the size of a hockey puck. I did this because I really like ice cream, and I found I could eat it and not blow my diet as long as it was only half a cup a day. Despite my rule bending, I lost 60 pounds, and I’ve kept it off. It hasn’t been easy, but the plan is simple, and it works.

Also simple is the underlying secret to every successful weight-loss program: you have to eat less, and exercise more. Seriously. I know this sounds like some kind of crazy infomercial nonsense, but it’s true. Like me, a lot of Americans don’t really like doing either of these things, so we end up fat, and we end up sick. And still we can’t stop. I’ve joked in this space about ++how much I love fast food++, [[http://www.newsweek.com/id/220300]] and that I was hurt when Jared the Subway guy put on a spare tire, but it’s really not that funny. (OK, it’s a little funny.)

For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ++released a report++ [[http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db36.htm]] this week that says “forty-five percent of adults had at least one of three diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic conditions: hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes,” and it wasn’t even that alarming. Because we’re so numbed out to these seemingly weekly reports. We’re also numbed out to the reason we’re having a nationwide health crisis: we eat way too much bad food and we weigh way too much.

But we know all that. The big question is what to do about it. Billions are ++earned and spent++ [[http://www.richardsimmons.com/j15/]] every year trying to answer that question. Orwellian news reports say the government is planning to tell food companies how much salt they can use, and the new health-care plan will make restaurants post nutritional information.

News flash: none of those things is going to work unless we address the elephant in the room. (++No offense, Dumbo.++) [[http://www.tpd-bydgoszcz.ovh.org/kolorowanki_dumbo.jpg]] It’s a radical solution, and many writers dare not speak its name because they have class, they don’t want to be offensive, and they don’t want to look like a jerk. If you’re a regular reader of my column, you know those caveats won’t be a problem for me. The solution to our nation’s weight woes starts with an S, ends with E, and has “ham” in the middle, and not the kind that’s ++cured in Virginia++.

[[http://www.smithfieldmarketplace.com/category/6?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=virginia%2Bham&utm_campaign=ham&gclid=CM7E57qvrKECFUuF7QodgVcZzg]] The solution is “shame.” As in, we need to feel more of it.

Sure, a very small percentage of people are obese because of a disease, but let’s be honest. The vast majority of us are overweight for one reason: every time we bend our elbow, our mouth flies open. I know, because I fight it every day.

And I also know we should, as a society, have some sympathy for adults who are morbidly overweight, but I often don’t. I find myself getting angry when I see overweight children who are already miniature versions of their parents. The other day I was engaged in some investigative reporting at Dunkin’ Donuts—hypocrite, thy name is Tuttle—and a morbidly obese mom was sitting at one of the tables with her young son. A box full of two-dozen doughnuts was open between them. The child, also obese, was eagerly stuffing one of the doughnuts into his mouth. Between bites, his mom asked him which one he’d like next.

That is flat-out child abuse, and my reaction then was not sympathy, but anger at the mom. And then I felt ashamed because I was angry, but I also felt great sadness for the kid. It was also the way I felt watching a documentary recently about a half-ton teen. At one point in the show, his mom served him a platter of barbecue sandwiches in bed because he couldn’t move. In that moment, I didn’t think, “Oh, my, what a caring mom.” I thought, “Shouldn’t she be arrested for child endangerment?”

So, my modest proposal is that we don’t wait for the government to save us. Eat less. Eat better. It can be done. Don’t reflexively blame your thyroid or the fact that you’re just “big-boned.” If you have to ride on a scooter to shop for groceries because you refuse to stop eating, you should have no higher priority in your life than gaining control over your diet. I am the last person who’s going to tell you to stop eating the many delicious foods that are bad for you. Just don’t eat them by the pound. You can even do like I do, and incorporate health-giving exercise into your daily eating regimen: all it takes is a paper towel, a measuring cup, a half gallon of mint chocolate chip, and 15 minutes of brute force on the kitchen floor.

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