WASHINGTON - Like many ex-athletes, Rep. Norm Dicks started packing on weight when he left the gridiron. The former University of Washington linebacker struggled for years with diet after diet, and each time the blubber came bouncing back.
Until last November, that is. Upon winning reelection, Dicks, D-Wash., realized he had to take drastic measures because he had literally squashed his opponent.
So Dicks contacted a colleague in Russia's parliament and asked for help. Three days later, Dicks was in Siberia, in solitary confinement, locked in a dark, cold cell. There he was served a diet of ice and released for 10 hours of manual labor each day, breaking boulders with a pick-ax.
The extra weight just fell away. Within a month, Dicks had lost 200 pounds.
Concerned whether the diet would work a second time, Dicks had himself released and gained the weight back during 10 days of binge eating and drinking in Moscow. He returned to the prison and lost the weight again. After repeating the cycle of loss and gain two more times, Dicks was certain he was on solid ground, having lost some 800 pounds altogether.
He returned home and wrote Norm Dicks' Ice Man Diet, which this week reached the top of The New York Times best seller list. The book has proven even more successful than former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork. The Republican lost just 105 pounds on his powder-in-liquid diet, probably because he took in an extravagant 800 calories a day.
Relatively few people on the Dicks diet are willing to pay the air fare to Siberia, or the $600 a day prison fee once they get there. So the Congressman's book comes with blue prints for a prison cell in one's basement and order forms for the "Dickserciser," a machine that simulates rock-breaking exertion with a heavy tool.
"I swear by it," Dicks told reporters at a Capitol Hill press conference where he demonstrated the machine yesterday. "And remember that 15 percent of the profits from the book and Dickserciser go to putting obese minority infants on my diet."