This is the time of year when you see a lot of ads and articles advising you how to lose weight. I think it has something to do with New Year's resolutions.
I've lost a little weight in my day. For example, I lost eight pounds after my latest colonoscopy. But my true field of expertise is not losing weight. It's getting fat. Especially as I've gotten older. I've passed the 60 mark now, so I know all about how to get fat in your 50s. Here are five of the fastest ways to pack on the pounds:
Don't eat breakfast. You'd think if you skip a meal, it would help you lose weight. But it doesn't work that way. Everyone I know who pats themselves on the back for not being hungry in the morning (myself included) ends up with either a pot belly, or a rubber tire worthy of at least a hybrid car, if not a delivery truck. I think it has something to do with balancing things out. If you don't eat in the morning, you implicitly give yourself permission to stuff your face at 10 p.m., just before you go to bed.
Drink diet sodas. I don't know why this seems to happen. They only have 1 calorie, or sometimes no calories. But drinking diet soda conclusively and inevitably leads to gaining weight. It's not just what goes with the diet soda. Surely you've seen the person at a fast-food place with a double cheeseburger, french fries, sticky dessert, and a diet cola. (Yes, that was me!) I don't know exactly how diet sodas add on pounds; I just know that they do. They must stimulate something in the sugar part of your brain that goes unfulfilled with the diet drink, and so you subconsciously make up your sugar quotient with more pie, or more ice cream with your pie. In any case, whatever you do, if you're trying to gain weight, do not drink water. Water is just empty calories!
Take full advantage of your spouse. When you're sitting on the couch watching TV—and watching TV, playing video games, and sitting in front of your computer are all approved activities for the aspiring fat person—and want a snack from the kitchen, do not trouble yourself by giving up your comfortable seating arrangement and walking into the kitchen. Instead, call out to your spouse. Or a kid will do, if they'll cooperate. Ask them to get the snack for you, and bring it to you on the couch. By the way, potato chips make an excellent snack, especially of you have dip to go with them.
Do not own a pet. After all, you might have to change their bowl, clean up after them, take them for a walk, and throw a stick for them. All of these activities burn up those precious calories you want to horde in your belly fat. So relax. If you want animal companionship, put up a picture of a pet as the screen saver on your laptop.
Drive everywhere. You have a car. Why not use it? It's silly to spend 20 minutes walking down to the corner, which might be almost a mile, when you can jump in the car and be there in three minutes. Similarly, when you go to the mall, and have to shop at the two anchor stores at either end of the building, park at one end, and then when you're done there, get back in the car and drive around the mall to the other store. There's no point in walking the whole length of the mall. And by the way, if you have to go from one floor to another, never, ever take the stairs. Use the escalator or elevator. They're there for your convenience.
I'm sure you know some other ways to gain weight. Drinking beer, for example. Or, as I once did, giving up beer, then making up for that sacrifice by indulging yourself in all the dessert you can eat. You probably have your own guilty pleasure, which is fine, in moderation, of course.
Tom Sightings is a former publishing executive who was eased into early retirement in his mid-50s. He lives in the New York area and blogs at Sightings at 60, where he covers health, finance, retirement, and other concerns of baby boomers who realize that somehow they have grown up.