Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 28, 2013

We have an obsession with “thin” in this country.
I know that, because the happiest people I see in TV commercials these days are the people who have just lost a large amount of weight. You’d be hard pressed to find a happier group of people on the face of the earth.
I saw a young woman just this morning who had been on a well-known weight reduction plan. She strutted her new body before the camera with unfettered pride. I was actually happy for her as I looked up from my bowl of cereal. She looked very nice.
Her enthusiasm level, however, was off the scale. You’d have thought she had just been released from a Turkish prison. She even made that “Bob” guy in the male enhancement ads look boring. But she was less creepy.
She was particularly proud of her new …. uh, derriere. I wondered if every customer of this weight loss service gets a new derriere. Do they come in the box, or do you just order one online?
The cynical side of me thinks the director got that enthusiasm out of her by promising her a double-chocolate milkshake if she nailed the commercial on the first take. That would work with me.
I also think that some of the print ads dealing with weight loss are amusing. I get a laugh out of the ones showing someone who’s just shed 100 pounds standing there with a big smile on their face modeling their old pants that are now way too big. They pull the waist waaaaayyy out with pride, practically begging someone to pour hot soup down them. I’d throw away my old pants as fast as I could to remove the temptation to ever use them again.
I’m supportive of my friends who battle the bulge and win. I’m even supportive of the companies who make a ton of money helping us with that battle. They have every right to earn a profit sharing a sensible and workable plan to guide us to our thinner selves.
Truth be told though, we don’t really need them. Deep down inside, all of us know how to lose weight. It’s called sensible eating and exercise, and we just don’t want to do that. We want a quicker fix, a solution in a box.
I often tell people that I’m watching my weight. I just like to keep it out there in front of me so I can see it better. Bob Hope had a funnier line about his weight struggles. “I used to be the best looking guy on the beach; big chest, flat stomach….but that’s all behind me now”, he quipped.
About thirty years ago, Dolly Parton had just finished shooting the movie “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” during which she had suffered from a variety of health problems. Her doctor told her that her weight might be part of the problem.
So Dolly set out to drop some pounds; not everywhere, but in most places.
She said at the time that she wisely realized that effective weight loss means changing the way we think about food; actually changing our thought process about what food means to us. She decided that since she really liked traditional Southern foods that aren’t slim-friendly, she wouldn’t give them up, but would adopt a new strategy toward them.
She would order a Big Mac, for instance, and eat a third of it. The same was true for doughnuts. A half of one was enough to satisfy her craving for them. Once the craving was gone, her brain told her she’d had enough.
The pounds melted off; not quickly, mind you, but over time. And Dolly has kept them off through the years.
Effective weight control is never a quick fix. Ask the people who quickly lost 40 pounds and saw every bit of that and more return over a period of months. There are no shortcuts. I’m not considered obese, but I’d love to drop 20 to 30 pounds myself. I know I’d feel better if I did.
When I want to shed a few pounds, I do simple things like drinking water instead of my beloved sweet tea, and having the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the burger and fries.
I also get up off my derriere more and move around. If I did that regularly, maybe I’d be strutting my new fanny on TV.
Actually, I doubt that anyone wants to see that.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.