10 Dieting Tips

I’ve always been a natural bag of bones; the kind of guy who can eat all he wants and remain skinny as a scarecrow. That is until one day when I stepped on a scale and noticed my weight had skyrocketed ten pounds.

I tried to ignore it, hoping it would go away. It didn’t. Instead I gained another four pounds. So I cut back a little on my eating. It still didn’t go away, but at least it stopped getting worse.

One day I looked in the mirror and noticed a dimply texture on my thighs. In a panic, I showed my wife. She reassured me that this unusual, cuppy terrain on my skin was a harmless phenomenon called cellulite.

Cellulite?! What the hell! Cellulite is what happens to fat people. Not me! Sigh.

Finally I saw a doctor. He ran a blood test, which revealed that I was prediabetic, with a higher than normal average blood-sugar level. Prediabetes puts a person at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. You know, fat people diseases. I was getting fat, and my life span was dissipating with each forkful of food I was shoving into my mouth.

The good news was that prediabetes is very reversible. All it required of me was to go on a diet and lose some weight. Ah, no problem, I thought. What could be easier than eating less food? Before this problem developed, eating food had been a chore for me. I had to eat lots and lots of food, all the time, just to maintain a normal weight.

One of the world’s first dietitians was a Scottish physician named George Cheyne, who lived from 1672-1743. He lost a tremendous amount of weight by going on a milk and vegetables diet, and then farting his fat away. His book, An Essay of Health and Long Life, popularized lacto-vegetarianism.

I used to wonder why fat people had problems with dieting. After all, look at all the time dieting saves, from not eating. And look at all the money it saves at the grocery store.

So, with the insouciance of an amateur faster, I embarked upon a calorie-counting diet, cutting back my intake to less than 1,500 calories per day. And I learned much from this experience. In fact, I learned so much that I am now an expert. So I’d like to pass along these 10 expert dieting tips:

Tip #1: Only weigh yourself weekly. Never daily. But if your curiosity is too much, and you must weigh daily, then the best time to weigh each day is the first thing in the morning immediately after using the bathroom. In fact, you may even want to weigh multiple times per day, after each occasion that you use the bathroom. Be sure to shed all your clothes before stepping on the scale. And use lotion to avoid chafing the skin, from all the times you’ll be taking off and putting on your clothing throughout the day. Ah hell, just go naked all day.

Tip #2: When you stand on a scale, suck your belly in. This won’t reduce your weight, but it will help you to see the numbers.

Tip #3: When you stand on the scale, it’s helpful to rest one foot lightly on the floor.

Tip #4: You can continue to eat sweets and fats, as long as you count the calories. Note: Sweets and fats are highly concentrated with calories, so I keep a calculator handy, with scientific notation capabilities.

Tip #5: Exercise burns calories, and walking is a highly-recommended exercise. So eat smaller snacks. This will require you to walk to the kitchen more frequently.

Tip #6: Never tell anyone you’re on a diet. They will turn into the food police, forcing you to become very sneaky.

Tip #7: Avoid being too rigid. Relax and make exceptions to your diet for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, any and all Catholic holidays, family reunions of two people or more, and the celebration of any good news.

Tip #8: Avoid stress, as this can trigger hunger. I’ve found that eating jelly beans from a large, glass jar, creates a soothing sensation that prevents a lot of stress.

Tip #9: Watch The Food Channel for hours on end. This is called “fooderbating.” Fantasizing about food can safely substitute for the real thing, at least until you can no longer stand it.

Tip #10: Join a diet club. If you gain one or two pounds over the week, you’ll feel much better about yourself when you know someone who’s gained five.

I hope these tips help you. I really have become a dieting expert, haven’t I?

The Ramona Pageant

Back in 1884, the author Helen Hunt Jackson penned the novel, Ramona, while touring various locales in Southern California. It became a popular American classic, has enjoyed more than 300 printings, and has been adapted for film five times. Ramona has also been adapted for several plays, and one such play has been performed outdoors, in April and May, nearly every year since 1923.

[SPOILER ALERT! If you plan to read the book, don’t read these captions!]
Ramona is twice an orphan. Her parents died when she was a baby, and later her foster mother dies. But while the foster mother is on her deathbed, she is promised by her sister, Señora Gonzaga Moreno, that she will take good care of Ramona. The play begins with Ramona as a teenager who lives on Señora Moreno’s huge rancho, in the Mexican territory of Alta California.

This play is called The Ramona Pageant. The Ramona Pageant is considered to be the longest running outdoor play in the United States. It takes place in Hemet, California at the Ramona Bowl. This is a natural amphitheater, nestled in a small valley near the site of a former Indian village. Actors perform on a steep hillside and valley floor, while the audience observes from stands located on the opposite hillside.

Early into the play, the United States conquers California, during the Mexican War, and now Moreno finds her claim to her ranch being disputed by Americans. They carve it up and take much of her land away from her.

The Ramona Pageant has only missed being performed in the years 1933 (due to the Great Depression), 1942 (at the onset of our involvement in World War II), and in 2020 (due to Covid-19 restrictions). It is California’s official State Outdoor Play, and is a celebrated tradition of Southern California. My grandfather performed in this play back in the 1930s. I’ve seen a photo of him posing as an Indian, in the rocks of the steep hillside.

Angry about losing her ranchland, Señora Moreno (right) hates Americans. But she’s a bitter woman anyway, who does not love her foster daughter, Ramona (left), and who treats her harshly.

Several notable actors have starred in The Ramona Pageant, including Victor Jory, as Alessandro, from 1933-1937, alongside his wife, actress Jean Inness, who played Ramona.

An Indian named Alessandro, from the nearby Temecula tribe, falls in love with Ramona and wins her heart. They want to get married, but Señora Moreno forbids the marriage. And she threatens to kick Ramona off the rancho if she ever catches her with Alessandro again.

Raquel Tejada played Ramona in 1959, at age 18. She married her high school sweetheart, James Welch, within days after her final performance. The marriage didn’t last, but Raquel Welch’s love for show business has lingered for a lifetime.

Ramona protests being forbidden from seeing Alessandro, and this is when Moreno confesses that she hates Indians, and that she has hated them ever since one of her children died as the result of an Indian attack. And then she reveals that Ramona, herself, is half-Indian and half-Scottish. This comes as a surprise to Ramona, who had always thought she was of Spanish descent.

Actress Anne Archer also broke into show business, with her role as Ramona, in 1969. But there are many other’s who’ve gone unsung, performing at this spectacular. The cast and crew are populated by 375 members, most of whom are local residents of the Hemet area. Also, many horses and mules appear in the play. And a family of traditional Mexican musicians, the Arias Troubadours, have provided the sound track for the play since 1924.

Ramona realizes that her foster mother’s bitterness and prejudice against Indians is why she has been treated so harshly by her. So she decides to elope with Alessandro. She and Alessandro marry and have two children, but they find themselves driven off Indian lands by white settlers. Finally they move into a mountain cabin, and are happy for awhile, until their baby gets sick.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to Hemet and watched the play for our first time. It was the 99th anniversary of The Ramona Pageant’s first performance. My sister, River, assisted as a stage hand, and a friend of hers was a member of the cast. But we sat well away from this action, way up in the comfortable shade of box seats.

Alessandro steals a horse so that he can find a doctor to care for their sick baby. But the doctor arrives too late, and the baby dies. Soon after, a posse with the owner of the horse that Alessandro stole, tracks Alessandro down and shoots him dead.

We loved it. It was fun being part of an audience that cheered for the heroes and booed at the villains. Next year will be the pageant’s 100th anniversary, and my sister has volunteered to be a cast member. At age 69, she will be the one who rides onto center stage, sweeps someone up onto the back of her horse, and gallops away. So naturally we’ll have to go again, in order to watch all this horsing around. Who knows, perhaps like Raquel, this will bring her big break in show business.

Now widowed, Ramona returns to the rancho of her childhood, with her remaining daughter, who is also named Ramona. She discovers that Señora Moreno has died, and that Moreno’s son, Felipe, now owns the rancho. But Felipe has always loved Ramona, and he proposes marriage. She agrees. They have several children, but their daughter Ramona remains their favorite. They all live happily ever after at their rancho, in the beautiful new state of California.
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