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By Jim Kempton
After the holidays, there is always a surge of dieting. It’s inevitable, I guess—we all tend to overeat during the feast season.
As Orson Wells once famously remarked, “My doctor told me to stop having dinners for four, unless there are three other people.” It’s not easy to keep to a diet, let’s face it.
As one friend of mine told me recently, “I keep trying to lose weight, but it keeps finding me.”
There’s good news about the Turkey Day-to-New Year’s binge, however: the damage is relatively minor. Most of us put on only about 10 pounds. So don’t look at it as if it were the national budget deficit.
Plus, there’s always plenty of advice from the experts. You know all the instructions emphasized in the diet books. Sometimes one wonders how people get paid to tell us these things. For starters, they always remind you, never begin a diet before the holidays. One can hardly argue with that! I’d say the ultimate definition of an optimist is somebody who starts on a diet plan just before Thanksgiving.
But, they add, do start right after New Year’s. The longer you wait, they say, the tougher it is to lose the weight you put on over the December celebrations. You can say that again—by spring (if you haven’t gotten serious), your body and all that new fat will have become really good friends.
Don’t try to lose weight in a hurry. This one I really agree with. It’s only 10 pounds; relax and lose a couple of pounds a month without going crazy. Because the first thing you lose on an extreme diet is brain mass. Just kidding.
But, seriously, diet experts plead for us to stay away from radical diets and exercise fads. I’d add: especially those that promise to make you lose 150 pounds in just three short weeks. There is a reason those products carry the small print on the label that reads “these results are not typical”; they never are.
By May Day, you will be ready for summer and probably weigh the same as you would have by starving and binging for five months—and you’ll be a whole lot happier. Be healthy and eat well, but don’t make yourself miserable over it. After all, being lean is not an indication of virtuous character.
In fact, gaining a little weight may be a sign of a well-adjusted, compatible personality. A study found that singles who are out on the prowl stay trim while happily married couples tend to put on weight. Really? That sounds like a finding from the Institute of Things We Already Know.
It could be a useful detail, though. If happily married couples tend to put on weight, there is a defense against the age-old, no-win questions husbands have to face. The next time the wife asks, “Do I look fat in this dress?”, you can remind her of this study. And your response could be “I hope so!”
Jim Kempton is author of the cookbook, “First We Surf Then We Eat.” He was so skinny as a kid, he had to run around in the shower to get wet. However, as an indulging adult who loves food and drink, he has never quite been able to lose those last few pounds.