A couple of weeks ago, my sister got hit in the face with a horse, and the pounds have been dropping off ever since. It seemed unfair to keep this revolutionary weight loss breakthrough to ourselves, so I am writing to share it. We'll get back to that.
First, a bit about horses and horse ownership. I made what turned out to be a surprising invitation to all manner of aspersions, most having something to do with elitism, when I mentioned in one of my recent columns, in a particular context, that I have a horse. I do, and I am not ashamed to admit it!
The ranting in question may have had its basis in passions having nothing to do with horses, and likely represented a small minority of readers, but I feel compelled to set the record straight just the same. While aristocracy might figure in the whole horsey thing for members of the British gentry, U.S. Equestrian Team, and most entrants in the Kentucky Derby, that's not the case for most of the rest of us. Having a horse is just a matter of priorities -- like having a pool, for instance, or a snowmobile, or an ATV. It's about what you love.
A lot of just plain country folk have horses. Decidedly un-aristocratic farmers and ranchers have horses. And so do a lot of people who just love them.
I am one of those, and so is my sister, and my niece --with whom this tale really begins. My sister's daughter fell in love with equestrianism at a very young age and did the customary thing: she pleaded and wheedled relentlessly. Eventually, my hard-working sister and brother-in-law relented when opportunity knocked. A young former racehorse, badly beaten up and abused by that notorious vocation, and with a serious injury requiring months of rehab with an uncertain outcome, was available at a bargain basement price. They bought him for my niece, who named him Beau, nurtured him back to health -- and nurtured herself into an accomplished rider (for those who care, her specialty is eventing). My niece covers the costs of her horse's upkeep by working at the barn.
I trust that will suffice to discourage vituperations by the anti-elitist cabal. Back to our regularly scheduled program.
A couple of weeks ago, my sister was walking next to Beau, on a lead rope, past a paddock. I forget the details, but for some reason, one of the horses in the paddock suddenly took off at a gallop, startling Beau, who swung his massive horsey head right into my sister's face. As noted, my sister has been losing weight hand over fist ever since.
And since in our culture, any way of losing weight fast is a good way, I thought it was time to introduce the "hit in the face with a horse" diet.
It's new, and it works! No need to count calories! No need to exercise! It's got that quintessential "just do this one thing and weight will fall off you" attribute that tends to make for best-sellers. I envision a book, perhaps a movie, and certainly the next big societal trend.
Now, admittedly, there are certain liabilities. My sister was knocked off her feet, and may have been briefly unconscious. She needed stitches in her eyelid, her lip was split open, and she was fortunate not to lose any teeth. She has a fracture running from her nose to her jaw, making chewing very painful. That probably accounts for the weight loss.
But those are just details. The basic gist is: Get hit in the face with a horse, lose weight in a hurry. Since when do we care if the way we lose weight fast is actually a good idea?
After all, over recent years, I have been invited by various media to opine on astoundingly cockamamie lose-weight-fast strategies. There was the Dukan Diet, which was basically Atkins accelerated by extreme calorie restriction, and nicely presented with the flourish of a French accent. Far sillier was the HCG Diet, which invited people to spend a fortune on hormone injections that almost certainly did nothing, while adhering to a 500kcal/day diet, which obviously would have explained the rapid weight loss in the absence of the injections. Anyone remember Dumbo's feather?
And then, there was one of my all-time favorites, the KE Diet, which provocatively also involved noses. This diet requires inserting a feeding tube through the nose, down the throat, and into the duodenum -- with an infusion of a feeding solution in lieu of food.
In comparison to these, the get-hit-in-the-face-with-a-horse diet (how about we call it GHFH, and pronounce it like "guffaw"?) seems to produce comparably rapid weight loss. Of course, it's a N of 1 thus far, but diets have made the best seller list with little more than that to back them up before, so let's not split hairs.
Better still, there is no doctor visit required; well, unless you wind up needing stitches. There is no feeding solution, and no injections. And the whole thing could be free -- if you can find a friend who will let you borrow the horse. Of course, there is a golden opportunity here for all good capitalists, so I suspect you will wind up needing to rent the horse. But one good clock in the face should do it, so it shouldn't cost too much.
Anticipating the success of GHFH, I envision the inevitable sequels. The ultra-uber-GHFH Diet, in which you accelerate your weight loss by getting hit in the face with two horses. The GHFH Diet for kids, who only need to be hit in the face with ponies (this would be a picture book). The GHFH Diet cookbook, featuring all of the wonderful cuisine you can enjoy with a broken nose and jaw.
Of course, you can also lose weight -- and find health -- by eating well and exercising, no horse required. And as it happens, most people who lose weight and keep it off do exactly that. Admittedly, a world awash in junk food engineered to be addictive, the invention of labor-saving technology as the mother of sedentary necessity, and the hypocrisy of fretting about childhood obesity while continuing to market multi-colored marshmallows to kids as "part of a complete breakfast" -- makes the job harder than it needs to be. But with the right skillpower, acquired on your own or with some help, you can get there from here.
But eating well and being physically active fails the "just do this one thing and weight will fall off like magic" test. In contrast, the GHFH diet fully satisfies it.
So, much as the idealist in me would like to keep advocating for eating well and being active, the pragmatist in me can see what our culture really needs. So it is with great pride and excitement (and regret that I have to share a commission with my sister) that I introduce the ground-breaking (not to mention nose-breaking) GHFH Diet! Because when all is said and done, you can lead a horse to water, but...
PS -- for the compassionate souls among you, I suspect you will want to know that my sister is on the mend, and gave her permission before I posted this column. When I read it to her, she did mention that it hurts to laugh. She invites you to check out her before/after photos at https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.katz.9
Dr. David L. Katz has authored three editions of a leading nutrition textbook. He is editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal, Childhood Obesity, and President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is the author of Disease Proof, and most recently, of the epic novel, reVision. He is the proud (and un-Knighted) owner of Troubadour, who has thus far withheld the favor of hitting him in the face.