This column is fat-free

By Matthew M. Robare

Well, now that Thanksgiving is over, most of us will be left struggling with those vital questions of how to stay in shape during the holiday season. Turkeys are, after all, over 50 percent pure fat – they don’t call them “Butterballs” as a creepy sexual innuendo. Add to that all the gravy, butter, cranberry sauce and desserts consumed by the average American during the holiday season and you reach a level of calories that could sustain a third world country for the better part of a year, but I’m not saying you’re greedy or anything.

Fortunately, being a heavily industrialized economic superpower, we here in the United States have many resources at our disposal. The traditional method has been to utilize the division of labor. It worked fairly well for a while; first middle and upper class people did the eating while the poor did the intensive physical work. In the 1960s that system underwent radical changes through diversification: the poor still did a lot of the physical work, but to keep up with more food being consumed, celebrities and many college students began not eating at all. There were other groupings as well: a lot of exercise was done by soldiers in Vietnam and many drugs, such as cocaine and heroin acted as appetite suppressants or diuretics. By the 1980s, the decline in troops saw the rise of personal trainers and the growth of professional sports franchises to keep that exercise rate up.

But then chaos came to upset this balance: celebrities started making pro-food messages, drug use declined and every doctor with a dream of owning a gigantic house on a beach and never dealing with hypochondriacs or vomiting children again began publishing diet books. Every morning show has spent the past 20 years first plugging these books and then having someone else plugging a different diet book, or more rarely an actual empirical scientist, come and debunk the diet.

Major network studios in New York have been warzones ever since, as supporters of one diet over another fight for supremacy and airtime. Interns are assigned to vanguard and flanking positions to protect the network’s stars and guests. The fallen are given Viking funerals in the East River and two extra credits.

If dieting is dangerous, what is there to do? Exercise is one option. When it’s warm out I do a lot of walking, since I only live about a mile or two from campus, but with the colder weather I’ve been doing some different things. For example, there are on-campus exercises, such as the Bus Rush. A heated sprint, Bus Rushing involves sprinting short distances, sometimes through traffic, to catch a bus that’s about to pull out or get on it first when it’s just pulling in. It’s best in Northampton, where a busy day means it’s possible to outrun the B43.

Another fun campus exercise is the Cross-Campus Dash, where you get off at the wrong bus stop and have to run across campus to be at class on time. This list would be incomplete without mentioning the DuBois Stairmaster, where you walk up the stairs to and from your classes in the library. It also works for any other high-rise building on campus and has the added advantage of avoiding those people who take the elevator up just one floor.

Obviously food intake is still important. The greatest problem with eating healthy is that, as a rule, foods that are good for you taste bland, while foods that are bad for you taste great. What’s worse, trying to make those carrots exciting by dipping them in ranch dressing defeats the whole point.

There’s still reason to give thanks, though: Professor Mark Haub of Kansas State University recently made national news after losing 27 pounds in three weeks on a “Twinkie diet.” He ate one Twinkie every three hours, supplemented with vitamin pills, a protein shake and some vegetables.

Could any news be more welcome this time of year? Peace in Korea, harmony in Congress and Apple selling products that don’t cost an arm and a leg and a kidney, maybe. Sure Twinkies are great, but it’s easy to apply the principle to other food: instead of a pound of wings, eat a half-pound; Instead of that giant Christmas dinner and all the Christmas candy, just eat the candy.

Haub told CNN he doesn’t recommend anyone recreating the diet exactly and I suspect that eating that many Twinkies would make most people sick, although it might grant you immortality.

Matthew M. Robare is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]