I sat down at my computer on Wednesday evening determined to write something funny – something to lighten the mood this holiday season. We are supposed to be happy in December.

I’ll write about dieting, I thought, even though I vowed never to write about dieting because I don’t believe in dieting. Dieting works and then it doesn’t work.

Dieting makes a person feel good and then it makes a person feel guilty. Dieting deprives instead of bestows.

I know this because I have dieted many times in my life. I’ve lost 30 pounds and then 10 pounds and then another 10 pounds.

Always, my body returns to the weight it wants to be: somewhere between strong and chunky.

And then I thought, people love reading about dieting or at least they love stories about personal transformation. Hearing about how a person overcomes adversity, no matter how important or trite be the situation, is uplifting.

My all-time favorite reality show is “The Biggest Loser.” I love the behind the scenes drama, the contestants’ personal stories and the weigh-ins.

I love cheering for my favorite participant, which, of course, changes as the season progresses. The contestant that I hate at the beginning of the season ends up being the one I empathize with the most at the end of the season.

I also love “The Great British Baking Show” and “Dancing with the Stars.”

Really, any story with a dark horse or an underdog is my thing.

As I was about to open a new word document, I saw the news reporting the latest shooting and thought, why write anything at all? And then I opened the refrigerator door hoping to find the answer in a block of cheese.

Write something funny, Jolene.

“Behind every fat woman there is a beautiful woman. No seriously, you are in my way.” – unknown author

Not so long ago, we were able to divide up the heavy lifting of our planet’s work: You save the trees and I’ll save the whales. You take care of the hungry and I’ll make sure there are enough fish in the sea. You go work with the lepers and I’ll stay here and cure cancer.

A person could relax knowing that others were taking care of business. And if you didn’t have the time to take on these big issues, you could write a check.

Now, it seems, we all have to be on guard all the time.

Social media lights up every day with bad news. I find myself checking and rechecking my Internet feeds to see if someone, anyone, has fixed it yet. “It” of course, being the tragedy du jour. Unhappy face.

Write something funny, Jolene.

“Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse … but enough about Kanye West.” – unknown author

Last year at this time, I weighed 10 pounds more than I do today.

I had accepted my size and weight. I was healthy. I could move. I had fat clothes. I understood that if I stayed healthy I might gain a few pounds every year but certainly not become, in medical terms, obese.

But it nagged at me. I wondered, if I just shed a few pounds, whether I might have more energy and live a longer healthier life. I considered that if I could be disciplined and make a positive change in my life with just a slight shift in my diet, I should at least try. Last January I made the shift.

The first day of any diet is the hardest. For me, the appeal of a slab of cheese and a half of a box of crackers washed down with a cold Geary’s Winter Ale at the end of a workday was tough to reject.

“The second day of a diet is always easier than the first. By the second day you’re off it.” –Jackie Gleason

Instead of thinking about what I was eating, I focused on what I was not eating. Items like potatoes, rice and pasta were replaced with vegetables, vegetables and some meat.

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child

It took longer than I hoped, but I lost 10 pounds and this is what I learned:

“No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.” – George Bernard Shaw

And from the one who has the most control …

“Never eat more than you can lift.” – Miss Piggy

Are you laughing yet?

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]