The cover story this week in Time magazine is all about obesity in America, the out of control epidemic that threatens to be the No.1 killer. Time and ABC did an extensive study of the issue.
I can't possibly do justice to their hard work by summarizing it. I suggest you get a copy and read it yourself because it is a spectacular job of reporting.
Consider these alarming statistics: Two-thirds of Americans are officially overweight and half of those are classified as full blown obese. Even our pets are overweight, the article points out.
Our cave man and women ancestors spent all day long looking for food. They ate berries and the energy they burned up in this foraging burned off as many calories as they generated in eating. Now we still have the cave man appetites but don't burn off any calories driving that SUV through the drive-through window at Wendy's.
Yes, I admit it. I am one of those statistics. All through high school and college I was 6'2" and weighed about 130 pounds. You could take your thumb and forefinger and formed a "c" and run this over my front and back. I was a bean pole.
And then along came working late and drinking late and sitting at the desk and going to Waffle Houses at 4 in the morning to chow down and then going home to sleep.
I replaced walking with riding, golf, bowling or swimming with laying on the couch eating potato chips. And oh yeah, I am the Will Rogers of soft drinks. I never met a Coke I didn't like.
Now at the ripe of age of 56 I am still 6'2" but I am now clocking in about a hundred pounds more than I did in high school and college. There is almost two of me with one head.
Occasionally I determine I want to drop 40 or 50 pounds and I starve myself for days and proudly lose four pounds and then bounceback hits me and I eat everything in the house.
Some things are not a secret. We are victims of our own successes. We are a land of plenty and we consequently eat plenty. We are easily bored and rather than going for a walk or going into the garage and building something, we just eat. We eat when we are happy. We eat when we are depressed. We especially eat when we are bored.
I suffer from what all Americans suffer from. I want instant results. I know if I cut out even 400 or 500 calories a day and walk a lot, that each month I am going to lose a pound or two. In a year I could pull back closer to the 200 pound mark and in two years get down to where I want to be: 6'2" 175 pounds. But no, I want to see 10 pounds a week fall off like in those bogus television commercials, and when it doesn't I get discouraged and grab a handful of Snicker bars.
For all the fad diets, and I have at least not been a victim of them, there is only one thing that works. Your body is a machine and you have to burn up more calories than you take in. Over a period of time the ugly pounds will melt away. But the key is over a period of time.
A few months ago for lunch in Jonesboro I went to a steak-buffet type restaurant. You pay a set price and you eat until you feel like you are going to blow up. It reminded me of the Saturday Night routine years ago about the "trough and brew" in which characters were herded into the restaurant like cattle wearing full-length body plastic bibs. People brought out silver buckets of slop and threw them on the stainless steal tables and people ate like cattle. Then they got hosed down and paid the one-price fee and left. At my Jonesboro lunch, fat parents rushed past their fat kids to get ice cream and cookies and banana pudding after eating six kinds of meat and a ton of everything else. I did my share but could only look in awe at the way these eating machines shoveled it in.
I was so stuffed, trying to keep up that I couldn't hardly sit up and type when I got back to work. One time was bad but imagine doing this three or four times a week. We say "all you can eat" like it's an Olympic contest.
Time runs a national color map of the most obese areas of the country. Bright red signifying the most obese stretches from Louisiana north through Georgia and on to the Carolinas and on to Virginia. It approximates a much earlier study of the stroke belt that exists in this same region.
Let me be honest. My world is divided into two parts: ME and the rest of you folks. So if I carve off 30 or 40 pounds you can waddle to the salad bar all you want and I don't care. Only people like planners and politicians and dieticians wring their hands and worry about the entire nation. I only care about me.
I pledge to myself to cut down and exercise more and to be patient, one ounce at a time. And I plan to win the battle of the bulge. And if I fail, I guess I will have to ask an extra friend to come along and be a pallbearer since I don't want to give my left-behind friends a hernia.
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.