Have you ever noticed the first three letters of the word “diet”? I promise you-it’s no coincidence. Author Barbara Johnson wrote, “Some people grow up and spread cheer, and others grow up and just spread.”

I wonder if she would have said that some people do . . . both.

I have never been, nor will I ever be, one of those exercise people-you know, those skinny little types wearing tight spandex who jog up and down the street in front of your house to remind you that you are out of shape. I have asked some of my early morning jogging friends why they put themselves through this daily routine. Most of them tell me that it helps clear their head for the day. Once again, I have decided that I am blessed. The only thing I really need to clear my head in the morning is a chocolate chip/walnut waffle.

Another variety of the exercise people enjoys dropping not-so-subtle hints about going to a . . . gym. I have a confirmed hatred for the word “gym.” When I was growing up, that was the place that caused me the most pain. Every day, the other kids tortured me there during those terrorizing games of dodge ball. Yes, the word “gym” brings up a plethora of bad memories. Still, I am not giving up, and I am always looking for an easy way to shed a few pounds.

A few years ago, I believed I had found it. This occurred when I spent a couple of weeks living in the backwoods of Ukraine. When I use the word “backwoods,” I am talking about no plumbing, no electricity-just a concrete building and me.

One of the main staples of life in the backwoods of Ukraine is buckwheat. I always thought of that term as the name of a character in the 1950s television hit, “Little Rascals.” Little did I know that it was an actual food. In Ukraine, I learned my lesson very quickly, because I had to eat buckwheat at every meal. For breakfast, we had buckwheat and milk. For lunch, it was buckwheat and a hot dog. For dinner, we got a choice: buckwheat with chicken or buckwheat and fish.

I became convinced that buckwheat must be the king of all health foods. Within just a few days of this dietary routine, I came to realize that the word “buck” in front of the word “wheat” described its effects very well. After 14 days of buckwheat, I had lost 22 pounds. By the time I left Ukraine, my prayers had turned to, “Father, deliver me from evil and especially from . . . buckwheat.” As you can imagine, when I returned home, I immediately began a buckwheat-free diet and gained all of the weight back.

Lately, I’ve had a recurring dream. I go to a health club and am embarrassed because all the men (and a good number of the women) look like Mr. Universe, and I look like the Pillsbury Doughboy. In vain, I try to find an exercise machine where I can work out alone. Merely standing on a StairMaster makes me perspire profusely, while the Mr. Universe next to me has been working out for 20 minutes without breaking a sweat.

After finishing the famous “Walker Moore Non-Buckwheat Five-Minute Exercise Program,” I head off to the locker room to take a shower. Just as I sit down, I catch sight of a man in my peripheral vision who is even more out of shape than . . . me. Seeing him makes me feel better about myself immediately. I think, “I know I’m in bad shape, but at least not as bad as that guy.”

I know by his posture that this poor man is hurting: slumped over, eyes glazed, beads of sweat rolling off his back. I feel sorry for him . . . but not too sorry. Immediately, the Holy Spirit convicts me. Here I am, using the misfortune of others to make myself feel better. Quietly, I whisper, “Dear Lord, please forgive me of my self-righteousness and help this poor man. While I was looking at the splinter in his eye, You reminded me that I had a board stuck in my own. Help him to get in shape. Speak a word of encouragement to him. And God, bless him mightily today.”

Realizing that I need to apologize, I stand up, turn around and find myself looking eye-to-eye with the poor man. Only then do I realize that I am looking into a mirror. The poor man happens to be . . . me.

Yes, God did answer my prayers. Now, where did my wife hide that buckwheat?