I feel a lot thinner today. Not that I’ve lost any weight, but I read in the newspaper that Tennessee is tied with Alabama for the second fattest nation in the country. Whoo-hoo!

Mississippians are still fatter, but not by much. The cool thing about being a citizen of Tennessee-how-much-you-can-eat is that you have to be really obese to feel fat at all. I mean your fellow citizens are at least as fat as you are, and most of them more so. The trick to feel thin is to stay in-state.

That leads me to my new business idea: The Tennessee State Diet. You can eat all the butter-soaked grits and lard-flavored pork products you want. There is no calorie counting or measuring or portioning. All you have to do is move to Tennessee.

I plan to partner with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Realtors across the state to promote people moving here. And I will work with fast-food franchisees to create special welcome meals for people who make the move.

Once you move here all you have to do is walk – Walk! Who am I kidding? Drive, don’t walk. – around and notice how much fatter most people are than you. Sure you’re fat, too, but after a while you start to feel thin. It’s all relative.

When I look at guys who wear size 32 jeans, I feel really fat in my size 36 jeans. But when I see that most guys around here are wearing size 44 and above, I feel thin. Or, even better, when I see guys with 44-inch waists wearing size 32-inch pants with 12 inches of stomach hanging over their belts, I feel both thin and fit. So thin and fit that I just might drop by Burger King and Dairy Queen, our town’s culinary royalty, for a snack.

Of course for the diet to work, you have to stay in-state. My frequent business trips to L.A. where everyone is starving herself and himself to get into the movies will have to stop. And there is always the chance that I will eat so much that I will start to match or exceed the obese around me. But I have a solution for that – move to Mississippi.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is director of the One River Foundation in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He blogs at Beyond Religion.

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