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Holinger: Losing weight with fear

Published: Friday, July 22, 2011 5:30 a.m. CDT

I just topped 250. No, not for 18 holes. Worse than that. I’m talking pounds.

I knew it before the scale’s digital zero morphed into real numbers. When snapping closed my cargo pants, they squeezed my waist tighter than an aerophobiac’s seat belt.

Why is losing weight so hard, while regaining it so easy? Well, frankly, I like to eat. A ham sandwich loaded with mayo tastes better than, say, washcloths or staples, both lower in calories and cholesterol.

Believe me, I’ve tried everything to lose weight. I tried writing down what I eat, but gave up when it interfered with nap time and must-see TV, such as “Gilligan’s Island” and “The View.”

I tried weighing myself each morning, but my wife, Tia, took the scale into the second bathroom down the hall, too far a walk to bother with.

I tried smaller portions on smaller plates eaten more frequently during the day, but that required continually standing outside an open refrigerator from where I couldn’t see the TV.

I even tried exercises like keyboarding and TV-remoting, but the first day I overdid it and pulled several muscles in my fingers when typing a one-page story followed by flipping back and forth between Gilligan and the Casey Anthony trial.

The experts tell you to do “cardio” or “aerobics,” but, as I learned the hard way, that involved sweating. Salty water entered both eyes and stained a freshly-laundered 30-year-old collegiate shirt worn in intramurals.

After all this, you may think I gave up. Nope. What saved me? Fear.

Recently I was asked to give a short speech at a going-away party. It was supposed to be funny. Expectations for funny can strangle creativity. Once when we had friends over for dinner, I dropped that once I did impressions. “Do one,” the guest demanded, instantly leaving me speechless; I couldn’t have done a J-J-J-Jimmy Stewart if my next glass of wine depended on it.

And it didn’t help when on the day before the big occasion Tia asked, “What if people don’t laugh?” Immediately I began imagining worst-case-scenarios of stolid faces staring up at me, salt water dripping into my eyes like the one time I pushed my treadmill faster than “Stroll.” Then, only a few hours before the delivery, a friend told me, “Don’t make an ass of yourself tonight.”

How could I eat after that? I didn’t. And then it came to me: All I had to do to become thin as a Kardashian was schedule lunch lectures with Rotarians, all-school assemblies with a gym-full of 5- to 10-year-olds, and three-hour, one-man shows featuring Henry James.

Pre-order my diet book today: Scared Skinny: Getting Fit through Fear. In the meantime, start thinning down by scheduling plane departures during rush hour and planning dinner parties for a hundred or more. You’ll peel pounds faster than a tummy tuck.

• Write to Rick Holinger at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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