<%-- Page Title--%> This Much I Know <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 120 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

August 29, 2003

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The Losing Battle


History books will testify that all major battles of the previous centuries were fought at more than one front, with defeats at some fronts and victories at others. Unfortunately, this is not true of some modern day battles. Take for instance, the 21st Century Battle of the Bulge which remains, so far, mostly lost. We are all walking, jogging, treading the mill, lifting weights, stepping up and down, panting and sweating, and staying the same size we were the first day we started all this business. In fact, some of us are looking a little bit bigger. And the people who didn't do any of this are still the same size too. In addition they look happier having stayed on the sofa watching TV.

People who are not very thin and don't care, have for their theme song: 'Let Me Have Men About Me That Are Fat….' sung by Julius Caesar in the Shakespearean play. Fat men were popular with Caesar because in his opinion lean people thought too much and were therefore dangerous. Too right, as we later see when the lean Cassius coaxes Brutus to stab Caesar. Now the point here is: Was Brutus overweight? He probably was, otherwise he would have thought a little more (following Caesar's assumption about lean people) and got away from Cassius and his evil ways double quick. But he didn't think enough, was persuaded to do the evil deed and now forever ring the immortal words: Et tu Brutus?
Following the train of logic lucidly put forth in the paragraph above, one realizes being overweight not only allows people, especially the ones you hate, to lecture you on the imminent certainty of you getting high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, a stroke etc, it also means people like Caesar are of the opinion that you don't think (except perhaps of food). To get away from such calumnies, we really need to lose some weight and become not only slim and elegant but also thoughtful like 'the spare Cassius ' who 'reads much', 'is a great observer' and 'quite looks through the deeds of men'. Lose a few pounds and you are all these? Bring on the diet charts! …(Since exercise does not work.)

But which diet charts to bring and once brought, which to choose?

There are now almost as many different diet plans now in the market as there are stars in the sky, meaning, too many to be counted. Dr Atkins, Scarsdale, Ayurvedic, Hydro aqua, High Protein and Low Carbohydrate, No Protein and High Carbohydrate, Only Fruit and Vegetables, No Fruit and Vegetables the head gets half turned. All these diet books singing paeans to their own 'only diet that works' share one common quality, in that they are extremely persuasive. A fashionable protein-and-fat only diet manages to convince otherwise intelligent people that it's okay to eat four eggs in the morning, fried, and it's okay to follow that up at lunch with whole roast chickens and it's fine to follow that up at dinnertime with steaks with full fat cheese slabs on the side. And does this diet make you lose weight? Of course. Mostly through the body going into shock. But book that bed at Shikdar. And confirm the appointment at Mount Elizabeth. Because that's the final follow up to that diet.

And what about the other popular diet: Combination? Or actually Non- Combination? What you do here or don't do here is combine carbohydrates with proteins. You have one or the other every time you eat, the reasoning being, the stomach can only handle either one at a time. My Biology teacher friend tells me that this is not true. Saliva secreted in the mouth and gastric juices secreted in the stomach are a 'combination' of pepsin, hydrochloric acid and some other liquids. Saliva starts the digestion of carbohydrate in the mouth, pepsin digests protein, hydrochloric acid creates the correct conditions for digestion; in other words, a combination of different kinds of food is what the digestive system is designed to handle. But who is listening?

The newest diet making the rounds is the one where a specific food is assigned to be eaten on a specific day of the week. This diet chart may read like this: bananas and milk on Sundays, potatoes and chicken on Tuesdays, fish on Wednesdays, fish and bananas on Thursdays, milk and potatoes on Fridays, any food which is yellow on Saturdays etc.. Yes, you do lose weight. Mostly with the stress of trying to remember which day of the week it is and what you are allowed to eat that day. You are only supposed to stay for two weeks on this diet. Any longer than that, and the only weight you lose is that of your brain cells which self-destruct as they cannot take this kind of complication for more than two weeks.

Then having given up on diets, you revert back to exercise. You decide you will not waste time fighting your way through traffic to get to the gym or you will not give yourself vertigo walking round and round at the local park but you will buy your own exercise equipment and use them at home. In a Readers Digest survey they found the most popular gym equipment bought for home use is the exercise bike. And the home use this generally gets put to after a few weeks are drying towels, hanging clothes, a backdrop for photographs, and just being a nuisance in the middle of the room. Soon it gets moved to the balcony where the birds perch on it and the maids put potplants around it. Or it stays in the guestroom, mercifully out of sight.

The trouble is, something happens to the metabolism when you reach a certain age. You don't really have to eat much, even breathing the aroma of food wafts in calories inside you. And nothing wafts them out. Except perhaps starvation.

Rather than resorting to such an extreme course of action, there are easier ways out. Such as, living with or staying in close proximity to aunts or adolescent children. No matter how plump you are, your aunts will ask why you are looking so thin; and adolescents are so self-focused and worried about their own appearance, they will always look through you even if you are as wide as the door. And finally the quickest and most painless method of looking slimmer is to stand next to a person bigger than you are. Highly recommended.



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