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If you want to lose weight, be prepared to suffer


Mike Royko is on vacation. This column is one of his favorites, and was originally published in 1984. A fat actor has written the latest best-selling diet book about how he shed excess blubber. If you are overweight, you might be tempted to buy it. Don't waste your money.

Like many of the popular diet books -- and there's always one on the best-seller lists -- it's basically a rip-off.

That's because the author tries to convince tubby people that they can lose weight while still enjoying tasty, delicious, yummy, satisfying meals.

It can't be done. I've read all kinds of diet books because, like most self-indulgent Americans, I've spent much of my adult life overweight.

I've tried the old-drinking-man's diet, the eat-anything-you-want diet, the three-squares-a-day diet, the lotsa-spicy-meatballs diet, the gobble-pasta-till-you-burst diet and all the other enjoy-eating-and-lose-weight diets.

No matter what they claim, there is only one diet that works.

I call it: The-You-Gotta-Suffer Diet.

Having just lost 25 pounds in about 10 weeks, I know it works and I'm willing to share it with you. It's quite simple. You don't have to do a lot of calorie counting, measuring and weighing tiny bits of food or poring over time-consuming recipes.

All you have to do is be miserable, which is fundamental to any successful diet. And you have to remember only one rule, the cornerstone of my diet.

The rule is: If you enjoy it, you can't have it; if you don't like it, you can eat all you want.

This rule derives from the scientifically acknowledged fact that Mother Nature is a nasty, sadistic, mean broad. She made everything that tastes good fattening. And everything that is not fattening tastes terrible.

An example is the Brussels sprout. Under my diet, you can eat all the Brussels sprouts you want. Stuff yourself with them. Shove them in your mouth with both hands. You won't gain an ounce.

That's because Brussels sprouts are awful. Just as lettuce, celery, cabbage, carrots and most vegetables are awful.

The only vegetable that isn't awful is the potato -- and only when it's French fried. Or baked and heaped with butter, sour cream and chunks of bacon. Or covered with gooey cheese. Then the potato tastes great. Therefore, you can't eat it.

See how simple it is?

Let's say you go to a German restaurant. There's no big problem in ordering low-calorie foods. You just order the worst thing on the menu.

The menu might have a pork shank with dumplings, which is great cuisine. So, you can't order it.

Order the broiled white fish, with some sliced tomatoes on the side. It's enough to make me gag.

When the waiter asks you what you will drink, follow the suffering rule. The best thing to drink would be a liter of German beer. The only thing better would be two liters of German beer. So you can't order it.

Instead, you order the worst thing the bar serves: a diet pop. Or, if you are stupid as well as overweight, Perrier with a twist.

Then comes dessert. You probably want something wonderful, like a big slab of cheesecake or some kind of rich chocolate cake.

Which means you can't have it. Instead, you must suffer and ask if they have any fresh melon. Squirt a bit of lemon juice on it, smile and pretend you are having a fine time, while you are ready to scream and do violence.

Or maybe you choose an Italian restaurant. Once again, the choice is not difficult. The best thing on the menu would probably be a plate of fettuccine Alfredo, or spaghetti carbonara or lasagna. With a bottle or two of red wine. And a snort of anisette with your coffee.

So you order the baked halibut. With Tab.

The rule applies day and night, every meal, every snack.

Breakfast? Don't eat anything good, such as pancakes with sausage, French toast with bacon or ham with eggs. Eat miserable stuff, like half a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit juice. Achh!

Evening snacks? The best snacks known to civilized man are a big bowl of ice cream or half a pizza or two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a giant-sized bag of potato chips and a six-pack of beer. If you are a good American and a decent human being, you love these things.

So you can't have them. Eat some yogurt instead. Ugh.

That's it. When you go shopping, just walk down the supermarket aisle. If something makes you salivate, don't put it in your cart. If something makes you nauseated, take six of them.

Just follow the simple rule of suffering and misery and you'll lose weight. And, possibly, your mind.

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