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Weighing in on how to shed pounds

Casually observing the display of magazines at the supermarket checkout stand, a recent arrival from Mars might quickly assume that losing weight is more popular than even Elvis, who obviously felt otherwise. (And who could blame him - have you ever tasted a deep-fried peanut butter, bacon and honey submarine sandwich? They're quite good.)

The following head-lines shouted out at me the other day and, lacking a notepad, I grabbed a Snickers Bar and jotted them down on the wrapper while ingesting the 290 calories and 14 grams of fat contained therein:Lose Five Pounds in Five Days!

Lose Weight This Weekend - A 48-Hour Make-over!

14 Strategies to End Compulsive Eating!

20 Simple Ways to Lose Weight!

The Single Eating Mistake Dieters Make - You'd Be Surprised!

You're Not Fat, You're Living in the Wrong Country!

The lady in front of me, obviously an American, naturally had quite a huge order, so I had plenty of time to peruse a few of the more intriguing stories. As usual, I was disappointed to learn that all of them actually required me to eat less and exercise more. None offered a miracle cure.

Among the 20 simple ways to lose weight was this gem: Put your food on a smaller plate, thereby fooling yourself into thinking you have a larger portion. This raises two questions: No. 1, what am I, an idiot? And No. 2, what about blind people? They get fat, too, and the small-plate theory would be totally lost on them.

Every story turned out to be the same old tired platitudes we've all heard before, and we're still fat and getting fatter. After years at this game, I've earned expert status and therefore have developed my own strategies, which I offer you here at absolutely no charge whatsoever. (You can thank me later.) I call it the "30-day, 11-Step, Twilight Zone Diet." Take it with a grain of salt and I mean one grain, no cheating.

1. When you're invited out to a restaurant or to a dinner party at someone's home, just say no! In fact, stop seeing people altogether. Dieting and socializing have nothing to do with each other.

2. Schedule surgery. Most operations involve fasting the day before and revulsion the day or two after. Several surgeries this month can add up to plenty of no-food days.

3. Get something notarized. This is a great calorie-burner as you drive from bank to bank, get in and out of your car, stand in lines and try to find a notary who isn't on the phone, out to lunch or with another customer.

4. Walk around naked (at home, shades down) as much as possible. This really puts the problem in perspective. Overeating in the nude is virtually impossible.

5. Instead of eating, go shopping for a bathing suit. This can keep you sobbing in bed (an aerobic activity when done correctly) for up to a week. Repeat as often as necessary.

6. Replace all the food in your cupboards with Victoria's Secret catalogs. Contrary to popular myth, those models are not a different species; they are actually female humans just like you and me, potentially.

7. Visit Disneyland, Disney World or any other popular family vacation spot. It's shocking how fat the average American is and, in summer attire, how much more nauseating than even the rides.

8. Drop those preconditioned notions of what is and is not food. Begin to think of condiments as your main course. Mustard and ketchup are quite filling when eaten in bulk, contain very few calories and have absolutely zero fat.

9. Keep a pet tarantula in the refrigerator. This is a powerful appetite suppressant and, except for fear and loathing, has no debilitating side effects.

10. Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon without taking any food. If you manage to make it back to the top, you can write a book about your adventure and then you'll not only be thin, you'll be rich.

11. Bite the hand that feeds you. Do this often enough, and those few remaining friends and pesky relatives will eventually stop begging you to eat.

If this plan fails to give the desired result, move to Europe. You may be living in the wrong country after all.