A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind
By Dave Barry
First, the bad news. You can not have a REALLY swell body,
like the one belonging to Julia Roberts. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom,
has decided only a select few can look like Julia Roberts, and you are not one
of them. These people are destined to have swell bodies even if the only
exercise they get is eating Slim Jims and drinking cheap whiskey. Other people
can exercise constantly and eat nothing but grapefruit rinds, but they will
still have the bodies of water buffalo.
This does not mean you shouldn't exercise; it's just that
you should understand the REAL reason for exercise. As you grow older, you are
going to start feeling more aches and pains caused by the inevitable
afflictions of age, such as arthritis, the Social Security Administration,
condescending denture-adhesive commercials, children who call only when they
want to borrow down payments on houses much nicer than yours, etc. You need to
prepare your body for this pain. This is why exercise is so important.
Take joggers. You see them running along the street, clearly
hating every second, and you say, "What's the point?" Ha! Years from now,
you'll struggle to adjust to the aches and pains of growing older, whereas the
joggers, who have been in constant agony for 15 or 20 years, will make the
transition smoothly, unless they've committed suicide.
So don't delay. Start an exercise program today, the more
painful the better. If you don't like to jog, buy the exercise video that Jane
Fonda, a noted critic of capitalism, sells for $29.98, and do the exercises in
it. Or just hit yourself on the head repeatedly with it.
Ok! Today you begin the physical-fitness program that's
going to make you healthy and attractive, like the people in cigarette ads.
Step one is to take your pulse, because a healthy heart is
the key to physical fitness. The best way to understand why is to examine an
actual heart. You can not, of course, examine your own, unless you have a high
threshold for pain. So trot down to the grocery and ask the butcher for surplus
hearts from an assortment of animals - a cow, a pig, a fish, an earthworm. Most
butchers will give you the hearts for free, just to get rid of you.
Now take your hearts home, spread them out on a clean, level
surface, such as a Ping-Pong table, and examine them. You'll notice the hearts
differ in size, but they have one important thing in common: THE ANIMALS THEY
WERE REMOVED FROM ARE ALL DEAD. This tells us that hearts are extremely
important for physical fitness. Next place your hearts in plastic containers
and store them in your freezer in case your children ever need them for science
Now you're ready to take your pulse. The traditional method
is to press your fingertips against the artery in your wrist. The only drawback
is that you might squash the artery flat, causing blood to back up so that
eventually your arm explodes like a party balloon. A safer way is to drink gin
and tonics until you can hear your pulse pounding in your head, then crawl to a
nearby store to buy a stopwatch:
You: I want a stopwatch.
Salesperson: This is a grocery
You (PICKING UP AN EGGPLANT): Then what do you call this?
Salesperson: An eggplant. Say, you're the guy who was here earlier asking
for fish hearts. Are you drunk or something?
You: Certainly not. As any
idiot can see, I'm taking my pulse.
Salesperson: With an eggplant? Why
don't you just squash your fingers against your artery?
You (WITH GREAT
DIGNITY): If I wanted a squash, I would have selected a squash. I'll take this
eggplant, and make it snappy.
Using a stopwatch or an eggplant, count the number of times
your head pounds in a minute; if you're healthy, this should be a two or three
digit number. Next, tune your television to one of those programs in which
people in skimpy outfits leap around in time to recorded music under the
direction of a cheerful leader.
Under no circumstances should you actually DO the exercises,
because all that leaping will reduce your brain to tapioca pudding. You'll wind
up like the people on the program, smiling vacantly and doing whatever the
cheerful leader tells you:
Leader: Okay! Let's kick those legs high! Great! Now let's
bend over and say, "I pledge allegiance to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon."
Exercisers: I pledge allegiance to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Terrific! Now let's all take out our checkbooks and
After the program, prepare a large, nutritious breakfast. To
boost your appetite, think about how important good nutrition is to your heart.
Think about what will happen if you don't take care of your heart. Think, as
you chew your food, about the fish and the earthworm, whose hearts are in
containers only a few feet from your breakfast. This should give you all the
incentive you need.
Many years ago, practically nobody in America had a weight
problem, because almost everybody was an Indian, and all there was to eat was
bison. After a few hundred years of this, they mostly just picked at their
Then along came the pioneers. They didn't have a weight
problem either, because they were engaged in Westward Expansion, which consumed
a great many calories. Also, they rarely got a chance to eat. They'd be
crossing the Great Plains, and the wagon master would yell, "Okay, everyone,
let's form into a circle for a snack." But before they could even get out the
plates, Indians desperate for non-bison food would attack.
Next the pioneers built farms, and soon the country was
covered with amber fields of grain. Fortunately, they were able to sell some of
it to the Russians - who will eat anything - in exchange for money, which the
farmers used to buy real food. So now we have tons of food, and everybody sits
around offices and eats, which is why most Americans are overweight, some of
them to the point where they stall escalators.
To figure out whether you are overweight, determine your sex
and locate your correct scientific weight on this table:
If you weigh too much, you can attempt to disguise it. One
popular strategy is to wear clothing with vertical stripes. The idea is to
create an optical illusion that makes you look thin, but actually makes you
look as though you are wearing a café awning. Also, every schoolchild
knows that the only reason people wear vertical stripes is to disguise excess
weight. You might just as well wear a big sign that says "FAT."
Sooner or later you'll just have to go on a diet.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTE: Before you go on any diet,
you should consult your doctor, or at least send him some money.
The principle behind diets is to cut down on calories. A
"calorie" is a unit that tells you how good food tastes. Really good food, like
steak or fudge, has a high calorie content; really awful food, like grapefruit
halves, has almost no calories. (Now before I get outraged letters from citrus
growers, let me point out that I am not opposed to grapefruit halves, except as
food. They may serve many useful purposes around the home, such as
extinguishing small fires.)
To understand how diets work, you have to understand
digestion. The process starts in your mouth, which tastes the food and covers
it with spit, then sends it to your stomach to be broken down for use as bodily
parts. This is done by color. Red foods, such as Hawaiian Punch and beets, are
used to form red body parts, such as the heart; green foods, such as beans and
lime Jell-O, form green parts, such as the kidneys; beer is used to form urine,
and so on. If, on a given day, your body doesn't need any parts, it turns the
food into fat. Your body fully intends to turn the fat into something useful
some day, but it never gets a chance because you're always sliding more
spit-covered food down your throat. So your fat just sits there, and, desperate
for attention, starts interfering with other organs.
That's why you have to diet.