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WOODY: Helpful hints on how to take a load off

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I was channel-flipping the other night and came across some leotard-clad young ladies cavorting around, so -- in the interest of journalism -- I stopped to see what was going on.

At first I thought I'd come across one of those old-time hoochie coochie shows, like the one my boyhood buddy Ralph and I sneaked into at the carnival back when we were teenagers. Five minutes later Ralph had reached puberty and I was growing a mustache.

But that wasn't the case with the cavorting TV ladies. What I'd stumbled onto was an infomercial about weight-loss through dancing.

The pitchman said dancing and prancing is a "quick, easy and fun way" for ladies to shed excess pounds and tone their bodies. Boogie the lard off.

The pitch: it has to be done with the aid of a Special Workout Video. If Bertha in Toledo will order the video and do what the lithesome lasses on TV are doing, Bertha will eventually look exactly like them.

Yeah, right.

For starters, they don't make leotards big enough to fit Bertha. And secondly, even if they did, Bertha could wiggle and jiggle until her knees buckle and she's still not going to look like those fitness models on TV.

Some of us (me and Bertha, for example) simply aren't genetically programmed to look sculpted and toned. We can exercise and stay in reasonable shape -- enough that we can go to the beach and not be inadvertently harpooned by a near-sighted Eskimo walrus hunter -- but we're never going to look like those svelte TV models.

Guys are just as gullible as gals when it comes to fitness infomercials. My favorite is the one that shows men how to work out and get "washboard abs."

Back when I was younger (shortly after sneaking into the carnival hoochie coochie show, as I recall) I decided I wanted me some of those washboard abs like Charles Atlas advertised in the back of Archie comic books.

I couldn't afford to send off for the Charles Atlas Workout Plan, so I started doing sit-ups. I'd do a few dozen when I got up in the morning and a few dozen before I went to bed at night. I'd work in a few dozen more throughout the course of the day, whenever I got a chance.

After several weeks of sit-ups, I didn't have a single washboard ab. All I had was a sore stomach, still flabby.

It finally dawned on me that I could do sit-ups until the cows came home and I wasn't going to look like Charles Atlas.
It also dawned on me: who wants to look like a washboard anyway?

That was an early-life lesson -- don't get suckered in by every commercial you see. Just because you do the same exercises as the TV models do, doesn't mean you'll look like the TV models.

My old Lab Buddy, likewise, can eat the same type of dog food that those sleek TV dogs eat in the commercials, but Buddy will still be a scruffy old mutt. He'll never be a fancy Hollywood dog, just as Bertha in Toledo will never be a 97-pound aerobics instructor, no matter how much she shakes her bootie to Sumba music.

The only sure-fire, instant weight-loss program I've ever known was employed by my Aunt Ethel, who discovered a way to quickly get rid of several pounds of unsightly, unwanted fat -- she left Uncle Mort.

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abs, charles atlas, fitness, larry woody, washboard
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