The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Jan. 28, 1984.)

No number of books or magazine articles detailing the kind or amount of food I should eat to lose weight will ever convince me that I'm not a person who's just naturally overweight.

I don't have a potbelly or great globs of fat hanging from me anywhere in particular. I'm just overweight. There's too much of me everywhere. Right now, I'm up around 210. That may not sound bad, but I'm not 6-foot-3.

No one has ever been able to prove the extent to which we can alter the course of our lives by resolve. Nine times a year I promise myself to lose weight, but at the end of the year, the chances are I'm going to weigh more or less what I weighed when the year started. That's if I'm lucky.

Years ago, I remember thinking I'd found the answer. I had read a good book by a doctor who taught at Harvard and he convinced me that the problem of weight was a simple one. You are fat for just one reason. You take in more calories than you burn. The doctor conceded that some people burn calories faster than others and that differences in our rates of metabolism make it harder for some to lose weight than others. The fact remains, though, he wrote, that if you weigh too much, it's because you eat too much. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but they don't involve enough people to be worth talking about.

What the doctor didn't talk about, because he was a nutritionist and not a psychiatrist, was some faulty wiring in my brain and the brains of a lot of overweight people that affects the appetite. My appetite keeps me going back for more long after I'd had all the food I ought to consume. Food keeps tasting good so I want more and am unable to control my urge to take it.

I hate to be in a room with cigarette smokers, but I'm sympathetic to them. I've never smoked cigarettes, but I understand how difficult it must be to give them up. If I can't give up ice cream, I've got no business feeling superior to someone who can't stop smoking.

There have been periods in my life when I've lost weight. I can overcome my urge to eat for short, intense periods when I devote practically my whole life to trying not to, but it doesn't last. Overeating is as much a part of my personality as blue eyes and wide feet. I can no more keep from eating too much over a period of years than I can change the Irish look of my face.

When I look at those weight charts in a doctor's office, I laugh. According to them, I ought to weigh 145 pounds. They'd have me lose a third of what I am. I'll get down to 145 pounds the day the doctor starts making house calls for $10 a visit.

Many things about overeating are too depressing to contemplate. Butter is certainly one of the purest, most delicious foods ever made. It's made with such a wholesome and natural collaboration between man and cow, too. It seems unfair to farmers who have so much of it, and to good cooks who love to use so much of it, that butter should be high on the list of foods we shouldn't eat.

Years ago, I learned that bourbon was fattening. All alcoholic beverages are high in calories. It seemed incredible to me that two things as different as butter and bourbon could produce the same deleterious effect on the system. I recall wondering whether the fat produced on my frame by bourbon would look any better or worse than that produced by butter.

Everything about being fat seems so unfair.

The Best of Andy Rooney - Humor & Satire Classics

Humor & Funny Stories - The Urge to Eat | Andy Rooney

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services