I went to my branch office to check out some diet books and ended up in the land of Oz.

My “branch office” is, alternatively, Borders or Barnes & Noble, depending on my mood. Last Wednesday, I was after some diet guidance because that was also the first “official” day of my weight-loss quest. I’d planned to start Monday, Feb. 1, but was still getting over one of the worst colds ever, complete with fever, chills and Nyquil-soaked dreams so intensely bizarre the hubby threatened to record my nocturnal ramblings. (I actually woke him up one night, insisting he take the containers of dead panthers to the curb. Seriously.)

So last Wednesday, after a breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt, off I went to find some “wow” book with lots of great information and advice. I stopped at the Borders nearest my Raleigh home. I left three hours later, empty-handed.

It was all a bit overwhelming. There were books on four-day diets, seven-day diets and 28-day diets. Flat-belly diets, blood-type diets and clinic diets. You could eat every three hours, eat clean, eat raw or like a skinny b****.

Clearly, if I kept looking for the “right” plan, I’d never start. I decided to just go with what I know—there’s an Instinct Diet, BTWandjust burn more calories than I take in, every single day.

There is one book, however, I’m ordering today from Amazon (cost too much at the bookstore, even with my discount): YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management, by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz. It’s well-written with lots of humor—“whether your goal is to lose a dress size or not be seen by Google Earth”—and also the two areas most other books fail to adequately address: biology and psychology.

At 500+ pages, it covers some of everything, and as I flipped through I saw quite a few suggestions I plan to pretty much ignore. Like chia seeds. (Yes, the same ones used for Chia Pets.) There’s even a recipe for Chia Chili. That is so not gonna happen. Or protein whey powder, whatever that is.

But here’s the thing: The book made me curious about Dr. Oz, so I started taping his daily show to watch it later. Fanned! I really like his straightforward approach. His audience is nearly all female, consequently there are a lot of segments about diet and wellness. (OMG, just before writing this, I watched his show from Saturday with Carnie Wilson. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.)

Bottom line, I think I’ve found a book-shaped touchstone that looks as if it’s going to work for me. I don’t know much about omega-3 fatty acids, the dangers of high fructose corn syrup and why anyone would intentionally eat a chia pet. Right now, I don’t care. That’s down-the-road stuff.

It was important that I just get started, so I did. In the past week, I’ve been dealing with a bit of hunger as I’ve cut back on fat and calories, loaded up on more fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats, and headed back to the gym for the first time in about five months. My hunger pangs let me know I’m doing the right thing, as do my aching muscles.

Feels like progress.

--LESLIE J. ANSLEY