Thursday, November 08, 2007

I heard that bears lose a third of their body weight during hibernation, so this winter I thought I'd give it a try. Alas, so far, it's been a disaster.

I turned my den into the Institute of Sofa Research, where I've been reclining virtually motionless -- half-man, half-mattress -- with remote in hand. As a result, I've become positively bulbous.

You know you're out of shape when you sit in a rocking chair and can't make it go.

As a player, my winter lifestyle was always fairly sedentary, but it was offset by a hectic playing schedule for the rest of the year. The standing pulse rate of even some of the lumpiest specimens on Tour might surprise you. Heaving luggage around airports and walking six or seven miles a day (often through long grass) will keep the old strawberry ticking and in decent shape, it seems.

My problems are that I don't play golf any more and the only exercise I get is jumping to the occasional conclusion, or violently swerving past the salad bar on my way to the dessert trolley.

There is always one pivotal moment when you realize you are more than a little overweight, and for me it came the other day as I was wandering through one of our CBS production trailers. I like to study everyone else's jobs, as I eventually plan to take over the entire broadcast industry and start my own religion (whoops, didn't mean to mention that, but what the heck).

Anyway, sneaking around in full covert snoop mode, I heard the mellifluous tones of another finely honed athlete -- the dearly departed Bentley Wright -- who was warbling about some Ryder Cup rookie. I spun around to face the guilty monitor, knocking over a full can of Diet Coke with my gut, only to be rewarded with the sight of me at the 1991 Ryder Cup.

I was windswept, long-haired, thin, and athletic. An uninvited thought blundered into my head. That was six years and 20 pounds ago. Now, I'm winded, short of hair, fat, and pathetic.

I'm going to be 40 next year and something must be done before my birthday cake collapses under the weight of the candles.

All is not lost, however. I'm accustomed to losing weight, and quickly, too. My weight has yo-yoed between 155 and 205 pounds in the last 15 years and I've got the strange wardrobe to prove it.

No, I'm not talking about my rhinestone-studded posing pouch with the matching thigh-length Wellington boots, no sir. That would be an entirely different column.

I have a strange variety of sizes. I own a pair of trousers that the Artist Formerly Known as Prince would struggle to get into. (So that's how he hits those high notes.) Come to think of it, I only got into them once myself.

I also have a few huge pairs, some of which, sadly, are too small for me at the moment. I own every size in between, too, all because I refuse to go on wimpy diets. You know -- the ones where you eat sensibly, exercise, and lose weight gradually over a long period of time.

What I prefer to do is wait until I can't stand it any longer, when I'm so bloated I almost faint while tying my shoelaces. At that point, I waddle out and spend way too much money on pants that are way too small.

In my opinion, blackmail, like a couple of other vices, is not a sin if it is self-administered. These I call my "target pants" (no, I do not buy them at Target). I can nearly always identify the target pants in my closet, even from a distance, as many of them still have the price tags attached.

However, simply buying ill-fitting clothing does not a thin person make, so next comes the diet and exercise, both of which must, in my case, be overdone drastically.

In my exercise world, Forrest Gump would be a slacker. I work on a slow jogging pace of up to five to 12 miles daily and combine this with a diet of PowerBars, coffee, ibuprofen, alcohol, and, if I'm feeling really dedicated, the occasional cigarette.

This fairly makes the pounds drop off, I can tell you, although I would consider it a little too severe if it weren't for the alcohol. A man needs his sustenance, to be sure, and in the great Gaelic tradition, it is better to have whiskey and no food than food and no whiskey. Amen.

Now, you have the picture. I do this until the pants fit, at which point I go straight back to eating like a pig again, which is the only fun part of the whole exercise.

At this stage, I'd like to mention that I feel it would be extremely unwise for any of you folks at home to try this. Remember, I am a highly trained professional with 20 years of experience. And, by the way, if there are any bran-munching, granola-hugging, mountain-bike types out there who feel like writing to tell me the damage I'm doing to my body, forget it.

Call me old-fashioned, if you must, but I firmly believe that there is no point lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

At any rate, at least I can do something about my self-inflicted obesity. What bothers me even more is a discovery I made this morning -- my first gray chest hair!

Now, hold on a minute, I'm thinking. This evil game has dealt me more than a few silver ones on my head, which I don't mind at all. They only serve to make me look more interesting, hard though it may be for you to believe.

From the neck up, I'm going to look like Curtis Strange, which is a good thing. But I can't bear the thought of the little gray buggers heading south, presumably toward their final resting place!

Hair Club For Men here I come... or, perhaps I should lay off the electric soup and eat healthy. I wonder?

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