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Yummy smoothies are rough on waistline

Somewhere the diet gods make that diet devils - must be having a pretty good laugh on my behalf.

After all, only a couple of days had passed since I'd completely recommitted myself to losing weight - yet once again - when the sign on the new building near my work was unveiled in early January: Carl's Jr. Open Soon.Great, just what I need, another fat-food, uh, fast-food joint to tempt me.

What, are the two massive food courts in the malls near my building not enough to make my dieting life miserable already? How much temptation, after all, can one man withstand? Is there no compassion for a person who's trying to avoid fatty foods as if they were the plague, or even worse, as if they were a 15-minute walk on a treadmill?

Don't worry, I resisted going there on opening day.

Opening night, however, was another story.

I won't really start worrying unless by next month I'm on a first-name basis with the morning, swing-shift and night managers. That would be a sign that my diet ain't goin' so well.

I can't really claim that my diet went extremely well last month, either. I did manage to lose seven pounds in January, which brings my total weight loss since the beginning of 1997 to 67 pounds. That's not exactly chopped liver - more like chopped beef - but I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't lose more weight last month.

I started the New Year off with a bang as I dropped four pounds shortly after shaving my burly beard. But I then struggled to stay faithful over the next few weeks. My brain somehow convinced me that the official holiday season - or the time that you can get fat and nobody cares because they're busy getting fat, too - lasted through Groundhog Day.

I finally got back on track about a week or so ago. No, it wasn't just a coincidence that I kicked it into high gear toward the end of the month or right about the time I needed to write this column. Perhaps, to help me stay motivated, I should write it weekly.

I will forever remember January as the month in which I discovered those scrumptious frozen fruit smoothies. Yes, I'm on the new Zuka diet, which means that my wallet has lost the most amount of weight, of course. But they are heavenly despite the agonizing brain freeze that goes with the chilly territory.

I've tried to make my own smoothies at home to save moola, but it doesn't work too well. I seem to always end up with a few broken-up chunks of ice and a big glob of strawberries, so I'm thinking about raiding a wedding to get a new fancy blender. I could actually use a new toaster, too. Hmmmm.

The only problem I see about those smoothies is I'm not quite sure how healthy they really are. I mean, the healthiest food ever invented - grapefruit - can taste semi-OK if you douse it with a ton of sugar and then plug your nose and then drink a lot of water really quickly.

But the Zuka people make it look healthy at least. You watch them throw the fruit into the blender, and they can even add grass, wheat germ and other "carbo-booster" things that sound healthy like chromium plutonium (or something like that).

I asked one of the Zuka people if they had nutritional facts (so I could see what I was really eating), but they don't have the health charts yet. They could be soaking that fruit in sugar water for two months for all I know, but as far as I'm concerned, if they don't have a nutritional information chart it means they have no calories and no fat. If that logic worked with all-you-can-eat buffets, I'd be thin in no time.

I'm making exercise a bigger priority for myself this month. I struggled to find time - OK, OK, make time - to go to the gym last month. But I was pleased that I started to take the stairs - at least going down - at my work's parking lot. I didn't want to offend the elevators, so I took them on the way up.

Anyhow, I set a simple goal of walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day over the next four weeks. Even for a small amount of exercise, my body usually rewards me with some pretty substantial weight loss, so hopefully I'll have the discipline to get moving more . . . and to keep away from that fine-dining place Carl Sr.'s boy started up.