Being easily amused, I take great pleasure in the little coincidences that life seems to offer up on a regular basis.
On Monday morning, tired of a month with clogged sinuses, I visited my doctor. He’s a thorough guy and he went through my recent medical history, asking about things that have required visits in recent years. Eventually we got to the point in the checkup that most of us dread — the weigh scale.
“Where do you keep your weight?” he asked, rhetorically. Apparently I weigh more than he thought.
“I’m very dense,” was the best explanation I could come up with.
Anyway, it came as no surprise that he suggested that losing some of that weight (or density) would be a good thing. No big deal, he said. By dropping about six kilograms, I’d fit nicely into the chart he was referring to.
That night I reached into the pile of books I keep at my bedside, looking for something that I could dip into for a few minutes. A gold-coloured hardback grabbed my attention. George the Housewife… is a self-published book, one of several, by George and Bertha Herter. For many years they ran a retail and catalogue sales operation in the U.S., selling outdoor equipment. George was a well-travelled and highly opinionated fellow who loved to dispense advice and share his wisdom.
On the page I turned to in George The Housewife… I found a section on dieting called Basic Rules That Must Be Followed, and proceeded to read the 17 rules, hoping that I could gain some insight into how to go about losing those six kilograms (preferably without too much inconvenience. I should also mention that the doctor, checking the last cholesterol tests I had, ordered a new series and recommended in the interim, laughing, “more red wine”).
“You must eat at least six meals a day preferably seven and it can be up to nine,” the book says. “It is absolutely impossible to maintain a lasting diet and maintain weight loss eating just three meals a day. By eating three meals a day you become ravenously hungry between meals and eat much more that you should when you do eat. Mentally you become overnervous and irritable. The effects can become permanent.”
Okay, I thought, so far, so good. I can handle eating often. In fact, I do that already, but I’ve always assumed it has contributed to the extra pounds I carry.
“Never, at any time of the day let yourself get very hungry. In fact try to never let yourself get hungry at all.”
Again, that has been part of my lifestyle. I don’t like being hungry. I like eating.
Then things got a little weirder.
“Wear tight fitting clothing at all times. When you lose weight, have your clothing taken in at once so that it fights you tightly at all times. This is extremely important and must be done. Tight clothing takes away nervous tension that can cause you to put on weight or to lose it much too slowly.”
And here I’ve always assumed that tight fitting clothing comes as a result of gaining weight.
“You must not use any alcohol in any form while dieting. The weight you may put on by using alcohol is important. More important is that it causes you to lose your will power to diet and you overeat and eat things that you should not eat. Use no skin lotion or shaving lotions that contain alcohol.”
Okay, George. I take your point. Especially about the skin and shaving lotions.
“If you do not have them, you must buy a pressure cooker and an egg poacher. This is necessary.”
Cool. I like buying kitchen stuff.
“All beef used on your diet must be ECONOMY GRADE. This is the grade that contains the least fat. You must not eat grades like good, choice, prime, etc.”
Hence the need for a pressure cooker, I suppose.
“All foods must be prepared tastily, you cannot diet and eat foods that taste like a mouthful of sawdust.”
No argument there.
For every bit of goofy advice, Herter has some good old-fashioned sound advice, too. But in reading through his recommendations I was glad I’m not a woman. Women who wear makeup with oils in them, he states, should avoid doing so while trying to lose weight. Some women, he says, gain more weight from absorbing those oils than by what they eat.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.