Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.02.03


The Scotch Fast

Some time back, the NBC nightly news told us that one-third of all adult Americans are fatsos. They highlighted this news with some people shots focusing on rotund folks who looked like they were smuggling sacks of Jell-O under their T-shirts.

These items always catch my interest as I have been a decorated warrior in the porcine wars since the mid-70s. I have fought the battle of the banana diet, the Hilton Head diet, the water diet, and several other schemes with consistent results. That is, they consistently failed.

One diet that didn't work better than any of the others was one of my own design made in conjunction with a porky Hungarian named Bela, also known as "The Budapestilence."

It was 1978 and we were both out of work and spending our time playing pool, eating pizza, and drinking Scotch whisky at our local Legion Hall in Toronto. This lifestyle, while exhilarating, was transforming us from two heavy guys into TWO HEAVY GUYS. Together we looked like a minivan parked beside a haystack. It was time to diet.

Without the help of a nutritionist or my future library of weight loss literature, we invented the Scotch-fast (patent pending). We pledged to each other that, for one week, we would consume only Scotch and water. After that week we would tally our losses and decide whether to continue.

After three days of nothing but Dewar's and water we stopped playing pool as we were having trouble sustaining the aerobic exercise required. On Day 5, I was waking up with dizzy spells at three in the morning. The diet ended on Day 6 when I called Bela's house and his father answered.

"Bela's resting," he said, with some concern.

It seems that my Hungarian friend had cracked under the pressure and fell upon the family pot roast. He polished off about three pounds of beef before retiring for the evening. Naturally, with our bond broken, I felt justified in packing in a few ham sandwiches.

The Toledo scales in the bathroom confirmed my worst fears: zero weight loss. My body had fought back in the face of deprivation by refusing to let go of its treasured reserves of flab. Bela claims to have lost three pounds but eventually the pot roast migrated to a spot just below his kidneys and he too was back to square one. Medical friends were surprised that we didn't lose at least partial liver or kidney function.

Latest studies show that dieting, even sensible, monitored dieting doesn't shed weight and keep it shed. If you lose twenty pounds in a month eating wheat husks and drinking de-natured bumble-bee juice, you will gain it back the moment you open a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Research indicates that the only way to win is to exercise aerobically four times a week for twenty or more minutes and drastically reduce fat intake "For Life!"

These studies will divide the population into two camps. The Mama Cass group who will live happy round lives until the age of fifty or sixty when their hearts explode from overwork and clogged intakes, or, the Jacques Cousteau set: skinny, embittered stick people who live into their nineties but wish they had died at fifty or sixty.

I think I'll have a Dewar's and water while I decide.