I have been fighting flab for forty years. This is not a world-historical struggle against the concept of overweight, simply my own personal battle. At my tallest, I was 5’9” and with the advance of age, I have shrunk [rather like the Wicked Witch of the West] so that I am now a mere 5’6½. Periodically I go on diets, drive my weight down to an acceptable level, and then watch it slowly, inexorably rise. Since this all gathers around my middle, it is happily not visible when I sit at a table lecturing on Kant or Marx or Freud, but it is there, bulging in unsightly fashion
When I returned from Paris a week and a half ago, I topped out at an alarming 184, so I decided to devote the summer to slimming down in preparation for my Columbia University gig in the Fall. I immediately stopped drinking red wine and bought two batches of carrots to substitute for my usual snacks. [A pound of body fat equals 3500 calories, and a bottle of red wine is 620 calories. Since I drink a tad less than half a bottle a day, a week going without wine, which is hell, only saves me 3/5 of a pound. It doesn’t seem fair, somehow.]
Well, after a bit more than one week of dieting, I am seven pounds lighter. How is this possible? One answer is that my scale is wrong, but I only recently replaced the battery, so that’s not it. The second answer is that I have somehow managed to eat, in eight days, 25,000 calories less than my body needs to function properly, which is nonsense. The third answer is the real one. My body really hates it when I diet, so it does everything it can to persuade me that it is not necessary. It sheds water frantically, virtually crying out “See? See? No need! No need!” I have been through this before, so it does not fool me. In a day or so it will give it up and behave normally. Long experience teaches me that over the course of the summer, if I can last that long, I will lose one and a half to two pounds of real weight a week. Since this is probably the last diet I will ever go on [I mean, who tries to lose weight at ninety?] I better make it a good one.