The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published June 24, 1991.)

Are you tired of being overweight? Does it make you mad at yourself because you're unable to control the amount of food you eat? If that's true, this is for you. I'm going to give you one man's personal story of how he conquered obesity and brought his weight down from a high of 226 pounds to just a little more than 224 in six months -- and without denying himself any of the good things of life.

I remember clearly how it happened. It was a crisp, clear January morning. I had overindulged at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and all the weekdays in between. I stepped on the scale that morning and couldn't believe my eyes as the balance bar teetered for a moment and then settled clearly on the figure 226.

This was not a 226 enhanced by pajamas, slippers or a wet towel. I was starkers.

It was that moment that was to bring such a great change in my life.

Slowly and thoughtfully, I stepped off the scale. I knew I had to act. "I am an intelligent person," I thought, giving myself a break. "How did I let this happen?"

I used to be 185 pounds. I was still 185 pounds when I was discharged from the Army. And then, gradually it started happening ...187, 191, 197, 206, 218, 221 and then finally! That dread January morning, 226 pounds.

My pants were tight in the waist and tail. My shirts were snug around the neck, tight across the chest. Even my shoes felt shorter because, with the added weight, my feet had expanded.

I dressed slowly that morning and walked downstairs to breakfast.

"Coffee," I thought to myself. "That's all I'll have. One cup of black coffee."

In the kitchen, Margie had fixed grapefruit and had sliced the good bread we like. The jam was on the table next to the butter.

"I should have told her I wasn't going to have breakfast anymore," I said to myself. "Too late now," I thought. "She's gone to all this trouble. No sense jeopardizing our marriage over a few pounds. Just this one last time, I'll eat breakfast."

I put bread in the toaster and acted as if nothing had happened. I don't think Margie realized at the time that I was starting a radical new diet that would transform me into the man she knew when she married me at 185 pounds.

At the office, I was unusually quiet that day.

"You OK, Andy?" someone asked.

None of us likes to burden our friends with our problems, so I said nothing. They knew I was troubled, but I don't think they dreamed, in their wildest imaginations, that I was 226 pounds.

Because I had made a lunch date with an old friend weeks before, I went to a small French restaurant near the office for lunch. The waiter brought the menus and a basket of French bread.

We chatted and my friend took a crusty piece of the bread and buttered it. Not wanting to call attention to the weight-losing crusade I had so recently embarked upon, I, too, took a piece of bread. I was careful not to put a lot of butter on it, and I don't think my friend noticed that anything was up.

"Dessert?" he said as we sat there talking after lunch. "Not for me," I said, with a final tone in my voice that he could hardly ignore. He ordered an apple tart with vanilla ice cream.

"Half of this?" he asked, and before I could say "no," he reached for my plate and divided his dessert.

Not wanting to reject this generous gesture, I ate it.

So began the first day of the strict regimen I have been following for six months now. I'm pleased to be able to say that this morning, I weighed just barely over 224 pounds.

Don't tell me it's not possible to lose weight if you put your mind to it and have a little willpower.

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