Think Yourself Thin

May 24th, 2009

I need to lose weight for my upcoming book tour.  What with this being the age of information and all, I figured, no problem: I’d just google (note the trendy lower-case “g.”) losing weight and, bang, there would be my plan.  Right?

Well, no.  Losing weight gets 13,300,00 hits.  The well-intentioned, if ungrammatical, losing weight healthy brings 15,900,000 hits.  Aside from the time involved in reading all those results, I like to snack while I read, and by the time I found the approach that appealed to me, I’d probably weigh 470 pounds.

The sheer proliferation of approaches to weight loss — all but four of which are profit-oriented — suggests that we are, scientifically speaking, a nation of fatsos.  (And I’m one, so spare me the hate mail.)  Abandoned by the world of technology and left to my own devices, I had to sit down and actually think about how to lose the extra pounds I drag everywhere I go.  So I did, for a couple of days.

And I lost a pound.  Eureka!   Thinking burns fat.

In the weeks since, I’ve fine-tuned my method.  Certain kinds of thought require more energy, and hurt more, and therefore burn more calories than others.  But those that work for me might not work for you.  For example, mental long division burns 137 calories per hour — for me, because I hate math.  If you’re Mr. Number or something, mental long division would probably make you fatter.

Here are some of my most effective weight-loss mental topics:

Picturing Dick Cheney nude:  351 calories per hour (CPH).

Imagining the plaque in my arteries:  274 CPH.

Asking myself whether, if God is all-powerful, he can create a rock he can’t lift:  216 CPH

Applying Creationism to the fossil record: 122 CPH

Multiplying infinity by a five-digit number: 336 CPH, and it doesn’t matter if you’re good at math

Wondering about the ingredients in hot dogs:  329 CPH

Trying to think of a really offensive vanity license plate that would sneak past the DMV censors:  2 CPS, if I’m also walking.

Projecting myself into an endless rerun of Knight Rider:  207 CPH, but be careful if you like David Hasselhoff.

Projecting myself into an endless rerun of Knight Rider in which the David Hasselhoff role is played by Dick Cheney, nude: 1,243 CPH.  (Don’t try this at home.)

Imagining the scent that would distinguish non-existent celebrity fragrances, such as Marilyn Manson Cologne, George W. Bush AromaSmart IQ Aerosol, or Lassie Cars For Dogs Spray:  134-672 CPS, depending on a multitude of factors.

Daydreaming about Winkie, my childhood teddy bear, in the hands of terrorists:  225 CPS.

But surely you can come up with some of your own.  And if you doubt that this approach works, I dropped three pounds while I was writing this.  Honest.

If you come up with some especially effective ideas, please share them with us.  I’ve still got to lose those last 27 stubborn pounds.

22 Responses to “Think Yourself Thin”

  1. suzanna Says:

    Not sure I’m still welcome but an earworm has to be worth at least 350 cph. I’ll spare you the added grief and won’t give any more musical suggestions.

    But seriously I read a diet tip the other day that does require some mental exertion. If, for instance, you’re craving a bowl of your favorite ice cream and can’t afford the extra calories, every time you think of your ice cream instead imagine your ice cream paired with something repulsive to you. Like…well you have to do that part in order to get the full caloric loss…and by the way 27 pounds lighter and you’d be taken by a gust of wind!

  2. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    Enough with the thinkin’ already. It’s a holiday. My weight loss tip? Just eat when the Cubs win. I’m down 13 pounds this week. :^(

  3. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Cynthia, That’s not a diet, that’s starvation.

    Suzanna, I’ll do that. I’ll think of my bowl of ice cream singing “How Deep Is Your Love.” Get THAT out of your head.

    And the Captcha for this message is “Being Balfour,” which I may use as a title for my next book.

  4. suzanna Says:

    Bee Gees don’t repulse me as much as you’d like to think they do. I won’t say who does but I think you could guess who does pretty quickly. If you do guess within three tries I’ll send you a copy of the Bee Gees Greatest hits album and those stubborn pounds will melt like butter on a hot stove.

  5. Dana King Says:

    Seems to me picturing Dick Cheney nude would result more in bulemic-style purging than healthy weight loss.

  6. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    Lighten up on those ear worm songs or I’ll sling over a “Don’t worry, be happy.”

  7. Larissa Says:

    Thinking of Dick Cheney (naked of course)covered in my favorite ice cream is a pretty good deterrent…even if it *is* Cherry Garcia. Ahem. Ew. I think I really grossed myself out there for a minute.

    I like the coffee diet-everytime I want to eat something I drink some really bad coffee…and then get all amped. It’s like, running…but without all the work or heart/cardiovascular benefits. (c:

  8. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    CUBS WIN!!! CUBS WIN!!! Thank you, Baby Jesus! Tonight I shall dine on pasta alfredo and a lovely pinot grigio.

  9. usman Says:

    I guess you should picture Dick Cheney nude 3 hours a day. Those 27 pounds should disappear in about a week.

    Of course that might be dangerous to your health, mental and otherwise.

  10. Thomas Says:

    How to lose weight?

    Eat all meals with one chopstick.

    Only wear clothes that are too small. You will look ridiculous until you have lost enough weight to fit into them.

    Remember that the Hollywood stars’ favorite diet is starvation.

    Turn off your fridge and freezer; board up your pantry; eat all meals fresh. That will get tiring quickly.

    Whenever you feel hungry, drink a gallon of water.

    Stop picturing Cheney nude! Perhaps good for weight loss but not for your mental health.

  11. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    Picturing Dick Cheney nude won’t deter me from eating. I see his twin in the mirror every morning when I get out of the shower. That’s why I’m sticking with the Cubs diet.

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Well, what a chorus. This makes me feel powerful. Usually, when I dream about conducting an orchestra, the musicians ignore me, but here we all are, singing along.

    Suzanna — I don’t dislike the Bee Gees — I just can’t get them out of my head once they’re in there. Who hates them? Could she be 16 going on eternal? Do I get my album? (That word, by the way, is an age tip-off.)

    Cynthia — If you’re still tying eating to the Cubs, I’d choke down as much as possible whenever it’s permitted. It could be a long time between meals. And you’re underestimating the horror of Dick Cheney naked, or you’d never compare yourself to, um, that. But if the Cubs diet makes one look LESS like Dick Cheney, I’ll go on it, too.

    Usman, the mind will not allow its owner to picture, er, that image, for longer than an hour. An override circuit kicks in and replaces it with the orgasm scene in the restaurant in “When Harry Met Sally.” It’s one of the few restaurant scenes in all of film in which no one is eating.

    Thomas is the only sane person reading this blog. I especially like the single chopstick solution and the idea that any of us have a pantry. Things are different in Sweden. Most of us here in America keep our food under our pillow.

  13. Thomas Says:


    Sanity is indeed overrated but I do appreciate being referred to as such. First time today. 🙂

    In addition, if you did keep all your food under your pillow, your problems would be solved. Swedes have recently gone from fermenting everything that moves to using pantries and other modern conveniences. Sweden is, after all, the country of polar bears in the streets, frivolous nudity, pig blood pudding, cheery clog dancers around May poles, and a phone book filled with naïve girls named, “Inga,” whose vocabulary doesn’t stretch too far beyond, “Jaa”. And don’t get me started on ABBA.

    By the way, if you really want to pursue the whole Cheney naked thing (I advise against it), then look at this (remember, I advised against it):

    How’s your appetite?


  14. suzanna Says:

    What I was trying to get you to guess was what music repulsed me. I’ll give you a hint if you want. It could be worth a dozen or so burned calories if you take another stab at it and if you win or lose I’ll send the album (I am old) in whatever format you want, including a good old LP if you still own a record player. I wish I still did. By the way, my music loving teen strangely enjoys the falsetto vocal styling of the Brothers Gibb.

  15. Jen Forbus Says:

    I think I lost a couple pounds just laughing from this post and the comments! And to think, I’ve been walkign the dog!! Geez!

  16. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thomas — Any country distinguished by frivolous nudity is at the top of my must-visit list.

    Suzanna — That’s what I thought you were after the first time I read your original note, and then I reread it and went for Door Number Two. Who YOU loathe — Jeez. How many guesses? Michael Bolton? Celine Dion? The Pleasure Fair? (Careful.) Is there anybody making record who’s named Virginia? (There isn’t, is there?) Do I win?

    And, Jen, why are reading this blog with you’ve got BREATHING WATER on your TBR stack?

    My Captcha is Shirley victims. I LOVE that.

  17. suzanna Says:

    Michael Bolton and Celine Dion are great guesses. Pleasure Faire – never! Barry Manilow – yup, he’s the one. Thanks for playing my silly guessing game. The Brothers Gibb are on their way to implant weight reduction earworms. CD okay?

  18. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    You don’t like BARRY MANILOW?????

    Okay, me neither. Bee Gees, here I come. I think Maurice’s vibrato is the musical equivalent of those machines with the big belts that vibrate back and forth to reduce waistlines.

    My Captcha is bird answer. And the bird question was?

  19. Suzanna Says:

    According to my captcha the question might be: Be berried?

    As in Barry Gibbs? Could be.

    So you’re in for a twofer in your quest for a slimmer you. The Bee Gees vibrato can implant weight reducing earworms and get your waistline to shimmy to and fro. You’ll be tour ready in no time.

  20. Brynne Sissom Says:

    OK, if this is about thinking thin, just think about Vitamin D and Evening Primrose Oil. Don’t go buy them and eat them, feel the vibrant energy coursing through your veins, raising the happiness level of your mitochondria, and suddenly you’re off..flying free and light…and I like that one chopstick idea…that is like a half a Chinese joke, right? I’m waiting for the other chopstick to fall!

  21. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Brynne — Great approach. I tried it, and when I thought real hard about Evening Primrose oil, my pants fell down. I’d dropped two inches from my waist in less than five minutes, just tickling my mitochondria.

    Suzanna — Where’s my album?

  22. suzanna Says:

    Coming to you via online service provider. It was shipped 6/2. Where’s my ARC of Breathing Water?

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