Practical Advice -- May 15, 2005

A weekly feature on This Week.


It's the best book title by a politician since Mo Udall's "Too Funny to Be President." It's called "Digging Your Grave With a Knife and a Fork," by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He may be running for president, but this is not your average campaign book ... no policy papers, just practical advice. He lost 100 pounds -- and promises it's easier than it looks.

Gov. Mike Huckabee: "When my doctor sat me down and he said, 'If you don't change your lifestyle, you've got 10 years, maybe, tops.' And then he described what those 10 years were going to be like. And he talked about the progression of what would happen in a person who had diabetes. And I said, 'You know, I just didn't think I was going to end up taking the dirt nap this soon. And I certainly didn't think I was going to go out like that. We've got to make some changes.'

"I have gained and lost a boxcar of weight in my lifetime. And like so many people, I've struggled with losing and then gaining it back, losing and gaining it back, and then usually even putting more back on than I had lost before. But I decided this time that instead of trying to lose weight and just get skinny, my goal would be different. My goal would not be to lose weight; my goal would be to get healthy. For the first time in my life, I started wanting apples instead of candy bars. I didn't feel this internal conflict all the time about, 'Do I eat the cheesecake? Oh, no, I'm not supposed to. Oh, but I want it. Oh, but I better not.'

"Two years ago, I couldn't walk a city block without really just feeling worn out. A flight of stairs left me sweating and breathing heavily. And so I started out just very simple exercise riding a recumbent bike for a very, very few minutes. And then one day, about 4:30 in the morning, I'm out walking, as I typically would do, real early, and I thought, 'You know, nobody is looking around. Nobody else is up but me. I think I'm going to run, from here to, oh, about 25 yards away, to see if I can do it.' Because I hadn't run since I was 14 years old. And I did it. And I didn't die from it, so I thought, 'Well, that's not bad.'

"The number one thing I hear from people is when they say, 'By golly, if the governor can do it, I know I can do it.' And I don't take that as an insult. I take it as a compliment. Because they know I was a lifelong, ultimate, self-avowed couch potato who loved mass quantities of anything you put in front of me. The more Southern-fried it was, the more I liked it. The more gravy you poured on top of it, the better it was. And they look at me and they know what I lived and they see the change and they say, 'By golly, if he can, I can too.'

"The most amazing moment -- I mean, it ranks up there with the birth of my kids -- was the day that I crossed the finish line at the Little Rock Marathon. And as I did -- people had told me it would be an emotional experience, but I was choking back tears. I said, 'I'm not fat anymore.' And it's not just that I'd lost weight: You've got to be healthy to run a 26.2-mile marathon. I'm healthy. I'm healthy."


Late Night with David Letterman:

Letterman: "Probably heard about this. Big scare in Washington earlier today. The White House and the Capitol building were evacuated this morning when a small plane entered restricted air space. Turned out it was a false alarm. Everybody was fine. What it was, it was a lobbyist airlifting bribe money to Tom DeLay. That's what it turned out to be. But Congress was evacuated. It caused a 15-minute interruption of getting absolutely nothing accomplished."

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: "Well quite a scare today. I'm sure you heard about this. The White House and the Capitol building were evacuated today. A small plane flew into restricted airspace. You hear about this? Actually got within three miles of the White House. Three miles! That's closer than John Kerry ever got!"

Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Stewart: "The important thing is in the three-and-a-half years since 9/11, we've made tremendous progress in dealing with these situations. A new thing has been implemented that worked to perfection today. It's called run for your lives! Run without knowing where you're going! Run as fast and aimlessly as you can!"