There’s an entire micro-economy based on the pursuit of betterment. The author—58, full-figured, and ferocious in his consumption of cigarettes and scotch—agreed to test its limits, starting with the Executive De-Stress Treatment at a high-end spa.
The Hitch in Vanity Fair:
I’d noticed a touch of decline here and there, but one puts these things down to Anno Domini and the acquirement of seniority. A bit of a stomach gives a chap a position in society. A glass of refreshment, in my view, never hurt anybody. This walking business is overrated: I mastered the art of doing it when I was quite small, and in any case, what are taxis for? Smoking is a vice, I will admit, but one has to have a hobby. Nonetheless, when my friends at this magazine formed up and said they would pay good money to stop having to look at me in my current shape, I agreed to a course of rehabilitation. There now exists a whole micro-economy dedicated to the proposition that a makeover is feasible, or in other words to disprove Scott Fitzgerald’s dictum that there are no second acts in American lives. Objectives: to drop down from the current 185 pounds, to improve the “tone” of the skin and muscles, to wheeze less, to enhance the hunched and round-shouldered posture, to give some thought to the hair and fur questions (more emphasis perhaps in the right places and less in the wrong ones), to sharpen up the tailoring, to lessen the booze intake, and to make the smile, which currently looks like a handful of mixed nuts, a little less scary to children.