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Dogged pursuit of weight loss

Like many Americans -- you, for example -- I am concerned about my weight. That's because, like you, when I am naked I resemble poorly upholstered French Provincial furniture. Face it, we are Americans: Our navels look exactly like the button on an overstuffed ottoman. Our butts have the firmness of a futon. America has become the land of the loose caboose. We are positively flabulous.

This year, mostly as a pre-emptive measure, I decided to lose some weight for Thanksgiving, a day on which I knew I would be consuming the caloric equivalent of a whole, deep-fried walrus. So I went on a diet. It worked. I lost eight pounds in seven days.

You are probably thinking that I tried one of those radical fad diets such as the one created by "Dr. Atkins," who said we should eat only fat and grease, or the one by "Dr. Pritikin," who said we should eat everything but fat and grease. Well, you would be wrong. I devised a diet of my own, with basic, healthful foodstuffs eaten every day in households all across America, developed through years of research by some of the nation's finest veterinary nutritionists. Today, as a Christmas present to you, I disclose the simple secret of:

*The Dr. Weingarten All-Dog-Food Diet

My goal was the ultimate in appetite suppression. I decided that for the week before Thanksgiving, I would eat nothing but dog food, specifically products by Evo, the fine brand I feed my dog, Murphy. My first step was to assemble the food -- canned and kibble both -- in front of me, and smell and taste it. After doing so, and imagining a full week on this regimen and this regimen alone, I made a slight alteration in the diet, now called:

*The Dr. Weingarten All-Dog-Food and Beer Diet

At times like this, one learns who one's true friends are. Concerned for my health, some people counseled against this on grounds that the food might not be safe for human consumption. On the other hand, my editor, Tom the Butcher, urged me to start right away but suggested that, in the interests of full immersion journalism, I also drink from the toilet.

"I'm not going to be doing that," I said.

"Well, then at least show some dedication," he said, "and wolf up garbage from the street."

I began on the Thursday before Thanksgiving with a meal of kibble sprinkled onto Evo 95 percent Chicken & Turkey formula premium canned food. It was a pleasant combination of textures, I told my family, not unlike goose liver pate and croutons. I managed to hold that image in my head until the third or fourth swallow, which is when my self-delusion collapsed like a meringue in an earthquake. The fact is, Evo 95 percent Chicken & Turkey formula premium canned dog food tasted like mashed-up hobo socks au jus, in their own foot sweat.

So for the remainder of the week, I limited myself only to kibble, which tasted relatively OK, if a bit gamy and crusty, like scabs. I couldn't stomach a full-size meal of this, so I wound up carrying a bag of dog food around with me, joylessly downing it, crumb by crumb. Murphy was clearly annoyed: Why does HE get to snack?

One day, I met a co-worker for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. As she dined on oven-roasted artichoke, I nibbled at my kibble, sullenly eyeing her plate with a mournful, importuning look familiar to anyone who has ever seen a dog near a dinner table.

On Saturday, my daughter came home with three dozen raw oysters. As I am the most competent oyster shucker, I had to do it, preparing my favorite meal for others. I now know what it must be like to work at the U.S. Mint.

On Thanksgiving, I gorged myself disgustingly and regained two of the pounds I had lost. But by then the diet was already over. Earlier in the day, I had ended it with a final experiment. I wanted to give the dog food industry a fair shake. I mean, not all human food is Cordon Bleu, after all. So alone in my kitchen, I broke my fast with the least appealing snack I could imagine: Spam. I drained it in all of 15 seconds. Better than oysters! I almost ate the teaspoon.