The Science of Getting Thin


This is from, "The Fun of Getting Thin" by Samuel G. Blythe, published back in 1912.

"The theory of taking off fat is the simplest theory in the world. It is announced, in four words: Stop eating and drinking. The practice of fat reduction is the most difficult thing in the world. Its difficulties are comprehended in two words: You cannot. The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak. The success of the undertaking lies in the triumph of the will over the appetite. There's a lovely line of cant for you! Triumph of the will over the appetite. It sounds like the preaching of a professional food faddist, who tells the people they eat too much and then slips away and wolfs down four pounds of beefsteak at a sitting. However, I suppose it is necessary to say this once in a dissertation like this--and it is said.

In writing about this successful experiment of mine in reducing weight I have no theories to advance except one, and no instructions to give.

I don't know whether my method would take an ounce off any other person in the world, and I don't care. I only know it took more than fifty pounds off me. I am not advancing any argument, medicinal or otherwise, for my plan. I never talked to a doctor about it, and never shall. If there are fat men and fat women who are fat for the same reasons I was fat I suppose they can get thin the way I got thin. If they are fat for other reasons I suppose they cannot. I don't know about either proposition.

I have great respect for doctors--so much respect, in fact, that I keep diligently away from them. I know the preliminaries of their game and can take a dose of medicine myself as skillfully as they can administer

it. Also, I know when I have a fever, and have a working knowledge of how my heart should beat and my other bodily functions be performed. I have frequently found that a prescription, unintelligibly written but looking very wise, is highly efficacious when folded carefully and put in the pocketbook instead of being deposited with a druggist. I suppose that comes from a sort of hereditary faith in amulets. No doubt the method would be even more efficacious if the prescription were tied on a string and hung around the neck. I shall try that some time when my wife lugs in a doctor on me.

Still, doctors are interesting as a class. After you get beyond the let-me-feel-your-pulse-and-see-your-tongue preliminaries they are versatile and ingenious. Almost always, after you tell them what is the matter with you, they will know--not every time, but frequently.

Also, they will take any sort of a chance with you in the interest of science. However, they generally send out for a specialist when they are ill themselves. When you come to think of it that is but natural.

Almost any man, whether professional or not, will take a chance with somebody else that he wouldn't quite go through with on himself.
Besides, doctors treat comparative strangers for the most part, and the interests of science are to be conserved.

Almost any doctor can tell you how to get thin. To be sure, no doctor will tell you to do the same things any other doctor prescribes, but it all simmers down to the same thing: Cut out the starchy foods and sweets, and take exercise. Also: Don't drink alcohol. The variations that can be played on this simple theme by a skillful doctor are endless. When a real specialist in fat reduction gets hold of you--a real, earnest reducer--he can contrive a diet that would make a living skeleton thin--and likewise put him in his little grave. I have had diets handed to me that would starve a humming-bird, and diets that would put flesh on a bronze statue; and all to the same end--reduction.

Science has been monkeying with nourishment for the past ten or fifteen years to the exclusion of many other branches of research; and about all that has happened to the nourishment is the large elimination of nutriment from it."

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