Losing Weight Intelligently


There was a wild clatter in the den.  I had forgotten again, as Lapius had asked me to do repeatedly, to buy a large rubber mat to place under his exer-cycle.


S.Q. Lapius was pumping away furiously, his hair matted with sweat, his T-shirt moist, his breath coming in short gasps.  He stopped when I entered. And tried to say something but didn’t have the wind.


The kitchen odors were inviting.  I could smell cheeses, garlic, clove, and other spices.  Lapius had prepared one of his gourmet meals.


“You are preparing a gourmet meal,” I said as I helped him from the exer-cycle and balanced him till he could catch his breath.


“Precisely, Harry.  This constant fight against weight must be continued in order to permit me the luxury of food and drink.”


“There are no calories in celery and water,” I told him.


“Nor taste either,” he gasped.


“You are fighting a losing battle,” I badgered.  “All you are losing on that bicycle is a few pounds of water.  You know that better than I.”  Actually he remained, despite his expertise in most matters medical, purposefully ignorant of calorie balance with regards to weight.  He knew the details, I supposed, but blocked them out.


“It’s as simple as elementary arithmetic,” I told him.  “The meal you are preparing will contain about 3500 calories ---“


“Ridiculous, Harry.  I have omitted the potatoes.”


“But not the cheese on the tomatoes, the rich gravy on the veal, the parmesan to be scattered on that, the blue cheese dressing, and the basket of garlic bread.  Not just one or two pieces but an entire loaf of French bread.”


“Harry,” he said morosely, “It’s uneconomical to prepare only one or two pieces of garlic bread.  We can’t be profligate.”


“The point, Simon,” I admonished, “Is that 3500 calories assimilated into your obese body is the equivalent of one pound of weight.  If you eat fifty calories a day less than your daily energy requirements, less than one piece of bread, it will take you ten weeks to lose that very same pound of weight.        


“Of course.  That’s the purpose of the exer-cycle.”


“Do you have any idea how many miles you would have to peddle to get rid of the pound?”           


“About three.”


“Nonsense, Simon.  If you ran 1.5 miles daily you would spend only about 200 calories.  Thus you would have to run that distance daily for two weeks to lose the 3500 calories you intend to consume tonight.”


“Be quiet and open the wine.  The 1972 white Burgundy is already cooled.”


“Alcohol is immediate energy, Simon.  If you really wanted to lose weight you would forego the wine, as well as your usual martini prior to sitting at the table.”


“Well I didn’t plan to have hors d’oeuvres,” he said lamely.


“One ounce of gin, which is somewhat shy of what you imbibe in your habitual pre-prandial martini, contains about 160 calories that turn to instant energy.  These calories help you get almost 100 percent efficiency from the rest of the food you eat.”


“Really?  Well I certainly can’t give up eating.  Perhaps I should have that ileal by-pass operation—you know where they shorten the intestinal pathway for the absorption of food.”


“It won’t work, Simon.  The results are not glowing.  About 90 percent of the people who have had that surgery have returned to their old weight within five years.”


“Well there must be a way.”


“Sure there is.  Let me take you to dinner.”


“And waste that good food.  Not tonight, Harry.  But I promise you can take me out tomorrow night.”


I have to admit the food was delicious.  I knew it would add a pound to my weight within three or four days.  But true to his word, Lapius joined me the following evening.


“Where are we going?”


“You’ll see,” I said, as I rolled the car up to a MacDonald’s.


Lapius was aghast.  “The atmosphere isn’t conducive to dining,” he complained.


“We are not dining, Simon, we are eating.”  He surveyed the menu carefully and ordered a big Mac.


“I guess this will get me through the evening,” he said morosely.  “But you know I won’t be able to digest it without some wine to wash it down.”


“That’s the idea, Simon.  The less you digest, the less weight you will gain.  Here let me help you.”  I leaned over the spare table and removed the rolls on which the hamburger basked.


“Not that too Harry?”


“Yes that too, Simon.”


“Even in jail they serve bread with the water.”


“Simon, I am simply amazed that a man with your medical background, with your sophisticated knowledge in so many esoteric areas of medical science, can be such an idiot about food.”


“All I can say to you, Harry,” Lapius said, after nibbling gingerly on the hamburger, “is that you would be a great guy to have around in a famine.”


“And if everybody ate like you, Simon, we would be having one soon.”