WASHINGTON — I am often unfairly accused of being insensitive to the issue of obesity in America, treating it as a joke instead of as the formidable, gigantic, mountainous, flibbity-flabbity, wiggly-jiggly problem that it is.
The fact is, I am so concerned about the seriousness of obesity in America that I am now going to share with you the simple secret of a diet-and-exercise regimen under which it is possible to lose 11 pounds in eight days. I know, because I did it. I call it the Westinghouse Diet. It not only requires no willpower, but the exercise part lasts only three minutes, and you have to do it only once.
I definitely had some weight to lose — although, because I am a man, I didn't realize it at first. When women gain a half-ounce, they know it immediately because their clothes tell them. Women's bodies contain so many curves, contours, knurls, crannies, convexities, involutions and promontories that their clothing provides space-age telemetry at every square inch, constantly sending back warning signals to the brain. When your wife or girlfriend asks you if she looks fat in this skirt, she is not fishing for compliments — she has been alerted to a possible grade-four chafing problem in Sector 17b.
A man, however, can gain 30 pounds without knowing it. That is because men's bodies are basically our bellies — and however large our bellies get, our waist size stays the same. The belly just obligingly extrudes over the belt, like Mister Softee over the top of a cake cone. There is no chafing. No alarms have sounded. It's 9 o'clock and all's well!
Anyway, eventually I realized I had some weight to lose when I finally stepped on a scale, and it exploded. Basically. The needle entered a territory I had never seen before; it was a rude shock, like if you accidentally type your password in the "username" box instead of the "password" box, so it's not coded in dots but printed out for the first time, and you feel hunted and exposed. The scale shocked me like that. But I did nothing about it. I am a guy. That's not when I found the Westinghouse Diet.
As it happens, though, within a few days, the Westinghouse Diet found me. I will now summarize it in an easy-to-follow, four-step process.
Go to refrigerator. Hug refrigerator as though it were a spouse whom you Love Just the Same Even Though He or She No Longer Exactly Resembles the Wedding Pictures, if You Get My Drift.
Shimmy refrigerator away from the wall (this is the exercise portion of the diet).
Place refrigerator back against wall.
That's it. I started on the Westinghouse Diet accidentally, when my refrigerator died. (Refrigerators tend to die slowly, like actors in bad Westerns. First, the ice cream gets a little soft. Then, it gets soupy. Then, the milk seems a bit tepid. Finally, one day, your kitchen smells like a deceased whale, and You Know.)
It turned out my refrigerator needed a new thermostat, which took eight days to arrive, which coincided with the duration of the Westinghouse Diet.
On the first two days, you actually gain weight by consuming all the Cheetos, bananas and Jujubes in the house. By Day Two, you will even eat anchovies straight from the can, on slices of raw potato to help suppress the stink. After the food runs out, though, your weight strips right off. Part of it is that you keep robotically going to the refrigerator and opening it, even though it is warm and empty. You are like a dog, forlornly visiting his bowl several times a day, hoping food has materialized since the last visit. This reminds you of what a pathetic food addict you are and shames you into starvation.
Just yesterday, the refrigerator was up and running again. I have gained a pound back already. But now I know where that cord is, and I just might use it.
Gene Weingarten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can chat with him online at noon Tuesdays at www.washingtonpost.com.