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0827 Fad Dieting

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 827: Fad Dieting.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast number 827. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at eslpod.com. Just six letters – well, six letters, a dot, and a (com) will give you an entire world of English. You can download a Learning Guide for each of these wonderful episodes on our website.

This episode is a dialogue between Joel and Beatrice. They’re talking about trying to lose weight by using some recently popular methods. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Joel: You don’t look so hot. Are you okay?

Beatrice: I’m perfectly fine.

Joel: Oh, and you’re grouchy, too. Don’t tell me. You’re dieting again.

Beatrice: Just leave me alone. I’m not popping pills or anything like that. I’m just trying to shed a few pounds the natural way.

Joel: The natural way? You mean like that diet you were on a few months ago where you only ate Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Or that other diet you were on before where you drank 50 cups of water a day?

Beatrice: Those were fad diets that didn’t work. I’m onto a new diet that’s guaranteed to take away those unwanted pounds and to reveal my slimmer self.

Joel: You sound like a commercial, or an infomercial. Is that where you found this diet, on some late-night infomercial?

Beatrice: It doesn’t matter where I heard about this diet. It only matters that it’s scientifically proven to help people lose weight.

Joel: All right. I need to shed a few pounds. What’s the secret diet?

Beatrice: I’m not telling you. You’ll only make fun of it.

Joel: No, I won’t. Tell me.

Beatrice: All right. I only eat orange-colored foods.

Joel: What?!

Beatrice: I said, I only eat orange-colored foods. I’ve eaten a lot of oranges and carrots.

Joel: I can see why you’re so grouchy. You’ve lost your bleeping mind!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins Joel saying to Beatrice, “You don’t look so hot.” The expression “to not look so hot” means that you seem tired, you seem sick. There seems to be something wrong with you, perhaps your physical appearance isn’t very attractive or isn’t a good appearance. The expression is “you don’t look so hot” or “she doesn’t look so hot.” Now, you have to be careful if you say to someone “she is not hot,” you mean something different. If you say “she is not hot” you mean she’s not sexually attractive, she’s not physically attractive. There’s a difference between “she doesn’t look so hot” and “she is not hot.” Or, “she is hot,” which would mean, informally, she is very attractive. So you have to be careful with this one. The verb we use is “look,” “you don’t look so hot.”

Joel says, “Are you okay?” Beatrice says, “I’m perfectly fine.” “Perfectly” (perfectly) is used here as a emphasis word. She means I’m very fine; I’m completely fine. So, “perfectly” is an emphasis word but it also has other meanings. Take a look at our Learning Guide for some of those.

Joel says, “Oh, and you’re grouchy, too.” “To be grouchy” (grouchy) means that you’re not in a very good mood; you’re in a bad mood, a negative mood. You are feeling irritated and annoyed by other people. Nobody wants to be around someone who’s grouchy, someone who seems a little angry or a little mean. Joel says, “Don’t tell me. You’re dieting again.” The expression “don’t tell me” here means I know and I’m going to guess what your problem is. “To be dieting” means to be trying to lose weight, usually by not eating certain things.

Beatrice says, “Just leave me alone (don’t bother me). I’m not popping pills or anything like that.” “To pop (pop) pills (pills)” means to take medicine; usually the idea is that you’re taking too many pills. “I’m popping pills.” The expression is often related to someone who’s a drug addict, someone who is abusing drugs or illegal drugs. Beatrice says she’s not popping pills or anything like that, or anything similar. “I’m just trying to shed a few pounds the natural way.” “To shed” (shed) means to lose, to get rid of something, especially if you have too much of something. It’s often used in connection to weight: “I’m going to shed some pounds.” A “pound” (pound) is the unit of measurement we use for weight in the United States. “Pound” has a couple of other meetings as well, you may know. Take a look at our Learning Guide for some of those.

Joel says, “The natural way? You mean like that diet you were on a few months ago where you only ate Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Or that other diet you were on before where you drank 50 cups of water a day?” Joel is asking what Beatrice means by “natural,” normally we use the word “natural” to mean the way things are supposed to be, especially with your body or with the environment around you. But Joel mentions a couple of diets that probably aren’t very good ideas, like just eating three days a week or drinking 50 cups of water a day. Notice he says the “diet you were on.” We use the preposition “on,” “I am on a diet.”

Beatrice says, “Those were fad diets that didn’t work.” A “fad” (fad) is anything that’s suddenly popular. It’s popular for maybe six months or a year, and then everyone forgets about it. A fad in the United States back, I don’t know, 15, 20 years ago – maybe earlier, I guess earlier – was something called the “pet rock,” and a company sold these rocks. Just regular rocks! They put them in boxes and they were supposed to be like your pet. So instead of having a dog or a cat, you could get a rock, and they were called “pet rocks,” and millions of people bought them, the dumbest thing you ever want to hear about. But, that’s a fad. It was popular for a year or two, and then everyone went on and did something different. So, that’s a fad for a product. Beatrice is talking about a “fad diet.” This is a way of losing weight, often a set of rules that becomes very popular, and usually these diets have names. They might be the – the South Beach Diet or it might be the cabbage soup diet. It sometimes has someone’s name; sometimes it’s a place; sometimes it’s an ingredient, a kind of food that is popular in that diet. Beatrice says, “I’m onto a new diet.” “To be onto (something)” means to be aware of and interested in something; you’re participating in something. She says, “I’m onto a new diet that’s guaranteed to take away those unwanted pounds and reveal my slimmer self.” “To be guaranteed” means that the person or company is promising that it will work. The idea is if it doesn’t work we’ll give you your money back. That’s a “guarantee” (guarantee). This diet is guaranteed, Beatrice says, to take away or get rid of or eliminate those unwanted pounds, the weight that you don’t want, and reveal her slimmer self. “Slimmer” comes from “slim” (slim), which means thin, not fat, not heavy, not overweight. Someone who is “slim” is someone who doesn’t have any extra weight for their body type. “Slimmer” would be more slim.

Joel says, “You sound like a commercial, or an infomercial.” An “infomercial” (infomercial) is a relatively new word. It describes what you will see on television often late at night. These are long commercials; they’re like 20 or 30 minute, sometimes an hour-long commercial for one product, and they show people using the product, and people come on and say how great it is. These are infomercials. Well, that’s what Joel says Beatrice sounds like. He says, “Is that where you found this diet, on some late-night infomercial?” Beatrice says, “It doesn’t matter where I heard about this diet.” Beatrice is a bit, we might say, “defensive.” She’s feeling like she needs to defend herself because most people think infomercials are for products that aren’t really very good. Infomercials have a bad reputation among a lot of people. Beatrice says, “It only matters (the only thing that is important is) that it is scientifically proven to help people lose weight.” Something that is “scientifically proven” means it has been tested by scientists and it has been demonstrated to be effective. “To lose weight” means to make yourself lighter, to shed those pounds.

Joel says, “All right. I need to shed a few pounds. What’s the secret diet?” Beatrice says, “I’m not telling you. You’ll only make fun of it.” “To make fun of (something or someone)” means to say something funny, but a little mean. You’re making a joke out of something or someone else. Joel says, “No, I won’t (I won’t make fun of you). Tell me.” Beatrice says, “All right. I only eat orange-colored foods,” foods that have the color of orange, that’s the diet. Joel says, “What?!” Beatrice says, “I said, I only eat orange-colored foods. I’ve eaten a lot of oranges and carrots.” “Oranges” and “carrots” are two foods, a fruit and vegetable that have the color orange.

Joel says, “I can see why you’re so grouchy.” “I can see why” means I understand why you are this way. “You’ve lost your bleeping mind!” “Bleeping” (bleeping) comes from what happens on television when someone says a vulgar word, a word they’re not supposed to say, and so the television network or channel puts a little sound in place of the word, and that sound is called a “bleep” (bleep). It can be used as a verb: “I’m going to bleep that out.” “To bleep (something) out” means to substitute a sound in place of the actual word. So I could say, “Well, he’s a bleep idiot.” “Bleep” is the sound that you might hear, and it is substituting for a bad word that I used. Joel is using this to say that Beatrice is crazy; he says, “You’ve lost your bleeping mind!” So instead of actually saying the bad word he says “bleeping,” which is a funny way that people sometimes use to say something very strong but they don’t want to use a bad word – which we, of course, would not use here on ESL Podcast anyway!

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Joel: You don’t look so hot. Are you okay?

Beatrice: I’m perfectly fine.

Joel: Oh, and you’re grouchy, too. Don’t tell me. You’re dieting again.

Beatrice: Just leave me alone. I’m not popping pills or anything like that. I’m just trying to shed a few pounds the natural way.

Joel: The natural way? You mean like that diet you were on a few months ago where you only ate Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Or that other diet you were on before where you drank 50 cups of water a day?

Beatrice: Those were fad diets that didn’t work. I’m onto a new diet that’s guaranteed to take away those unwanted pounds and to reveal my slimmer self.

Joel: You sound like a commercial, or an infomercial. Is that where you found this diet, on some late-night infomercial?

Beatrice: It doesn’t matter where I heard about this diet. It only matters that it’s scientifically proven to help people lose weight.

Joel: All right. I need to shed a few pounds. What’s the secret diet?

Beatrice: I’m not telling you. You’ll only make fun of it.

Joel: No, I won’t. Tell me.

Beatrice: All right. I only eat orange-colored foods.

Joel: What?!

Beatrice: I said, I only eat orange-colored foods. I’ve eaten a lot of oranges and carrots.

Joel: I can see why you’re so grouchy. You’ve lost your bleeping mind!

[end of dialogue]

Our scripts are not written by any fad scriptwriter. She’s been doing it for more than seven years, the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to not look so hot – to not have a very good appearance; to seem tired or sick; to be unattractive or at least less attractive than one normally is

* The team spent all night working on their report, so they didn’t look so hot during the presentation the next morning.

perfectly – a word used to emphasize the word that follows

* That story is perfectly scandalous! Do you think it’s true?

grouchy – in a bad mood; negative and not pleasant to be around; feeling irritated and annoyed by everything and everyone

* Hannah becomes very grouchy when she doesn’t get enough sleep.

to diet – to try to lose weight by limiting the types or amount of things that one eats and drinks

* Craig lost a few pounds through dieting, but then he gained them all back.

to pop pills – to take medicine; to swallow pills, often too many or too often

* The doctor said it’s okay to pop pills to help fall asleep every once in a while, but not every night.

to shed – to lose; to get rid of something, especially when one still has more of that thing; to drop something

* Have you ever seen a snake shed its skin?

pound (lb) – a unit for measuring weight; approximately .45 kilos

* How much does a 10-pound bag of potatoes cost?

fad diet – a set of rules for how people should eat to lose weight that becomes very popular for a short period of time, but is not effective over long periods of time

* Jackie is trying a new fad diet where she can only eat grapefruit and cabbage soup.

onto – aware of something and interested in it and participating in it or being involved in it while being very excited and enthusiastic about it

* Edgar is onto a great job opportunity. Hopefully he’ll do well in the interview.

guaranteed – promising to work well or be successful, so that there is no risk of failure or loss

* This toothpaste is guaranteed to make your teeth whiter in just two weeks.

slim – thin; not heavy, fat, or overweight

* Zoey is very slim and wears size two clothing.

infomercial – a long commercial, often 20-30 minutes, that sells a product or service but seems to be more like a TV program

* Have you seen the infomercial for knives that can cut through anything, even tin cans?

scientifically proven – tested by scientists in a laboratory and demonstrated to be successful

* Many people think ginseng can improve memory, but has it been scientifically proven?

to lose weight – to make oneself lighter by getting rid of some of the fat in one’s body; to reduce the amount one weighs

* You look fantastic! Have you lost weight?

to make fun of – to tease someone and say funny but slightly mean things; to make a joke out of someone or something

* All the students made fun of William when they found out he still sleeps with a stuffed animal.

bleeping – a word used in the place of a curse word (a bad word) because the word one actually wants to use would be too rude or cannot be shown in print

* That bleeping driver backed up without even looking behind him!

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Beatrice think the new diet will do?
a) It will make her healthier.
b) It will make her a faster runner.
c) It will help her become thinner.

2. Why is Beatrice eating only orange foods?
a) Because she thinks they taste better.
b) Because she thinks they will help her lose weight.
c) Because she thinks they are healthier.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
perfectly

The word “perfectly,” in this podcast, is used to emphasize the word that follows: “We had a perfectly delightful afternoon at the park.” The word “perfect” can also mean completely or totally: “How could Sanjay marry someone he had known for only a week? That’s like marrying a perfect stranger!” The phrase “perfect timing” describes something that happened exactly when one wanted it to: “Thanks for coming. We were just about to call you. Perfect timing!” The phrase “picture perfect” describes something that appears exactly as one wanted it to or as it should: “Their wedding was picture perfect in every way.” Finally, the phrase “nobody’s perfect” is used defensively when one has been criticized: “Yes, she made a mistake, but it could have happened to anyone. Nobody’s perfect.”

pound

In this podcast, the word “pound” is a unit for measuring weight and is equal to approximately .45 kilos: “The airline lets us take one suitcase that is up to 50 pounds.” Or: “Her first baby weighed seven pounds, four ounces.” The word “pound” can also be used for the place where unwanted animals are kept for a period of time while people look for their current owner or a new owner: “If the dogs at the pound aren’t adopted within a few weeks, they have to be killed.” The “pound key” is the hash mark symbol (#) on a telephone keypad: “Please enter the number of the phone extension followed by the pound key.” Finally, a “pound cake” is a heavy dessert made from flour, sugar, and butter: “How many calories are in one slice of pound cake?”

Culture Note
Surgical Weight Loss Options

As people in the United States become “increasingly” (more and more) overweight, “drastic measures” (actions that have a major effect; extreme actions) are becoming popular and “widespread” (found or available in many places, for many people).

Overweight and “obese” (very overweight) people are “advised” (receive recommendations) to lower their weight through diet and exercise. People who are “morbidly obese” (so overweight that they will probably die from it) receive the same advice but, if diet and exercise do not work, they may be eligible for surgical weight loss options or “weight reduction surgeries,” or ways to reduce their weight through “surgery” (a medical procedure that involves cutting into the body).

“Gastric banding” places a “band” (a tight, circular piece) around the stomach, creating two “chambers” (open areas) that are connected, so that food passes through the stomach more slowly and the individual cannot eat very much. “Stomach stapling” closes off part of the stomach making it smaller so that the individual cannot eat very much. “Gastric bypass surgery” connects the stomach to a different part of the “gastric tract” (the tube-like parts of the body that absorb energy and nutrients from food) so that the body “takes in” (receives) fewer calories.

These and other surgical weight loss options can be “highly” (very) successful in reducing weight, but they can also be dangerous. Patients may develop “infections” (for something that causes disease to enter and attack the body), require multiple surgeries, or “vomit” (throw up) frequently, among other “complications” (problems associated with surgery). However, people who are morbidly obese may determine with their doctors that the risks of continuing to be overweight are greater than the risks of surgery.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b