Losing Weight: How I Did It

Folks who haven’t seen me for a long time have been looking at me quizically, slightly startled. One lady who previously had encountered my visage only on an old video archived on the Internet said when she met me, “I didn’t recognize you. I thought you were, you know, a big guy.” 

At one point, I was — if you can call someone who is only 5’9″ a big guy. Now I’m not. I’ve lost more than 25 pounds.

On purpose.

About sixteen months ago, I had a physical examination. When I was weighed, I felt shame, disgust, and concern. I was as heavy as I’d ever been in my life, the consequence of middle-aged metabolic changes, careless eating, and general sloth. I was more than 190-pounds. I was fat.

As a former marathon runner and multi-sport athlete who wrestled in high school in the 145-pound weight limit, my deteriorating shape was more than disappointing. It was offensive. How could I have let myself get so pudgy, so soft? And wasn’t I aware of my family’s pernicious history of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension? Wasn’t I cognizant of overconsuming — food, energy, resources, everything? Had I no vanity left, no shred of rescuing narcissism?

I wanted to look better. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to be better.

So I decided to lose the weight.

In my weak moments, at the beginning, I fantasized of some quick-fix, a magical surgical procedure that wouldn’t hurt or cost much and would leave me with a torso like Matthew McCounaghy. Then I got serious.

When people ask me how I’ve done it, I tell them the truth: I’ve consistently burned more calories than I’ve consumed. That sounds glib and wise-assy, but it’s essentially the answer. I haven’t adhered to any particular diet plan — protien, zone, whatever — many of which seem to work for others. I’ve just eaten less and exercised more. The excess weight hasn’t disappeared quickly or dramtically, just steadily and demonstrably.

Specifically, I’m a pesco-vegetarian. I avoid anything fried, processed or refined. I try to eat only whole-grains. And when I’m satisfied, I stop.

I sold my car. I walk, jog, or ride my bicycle, proving that it’s possible to live happily in Los Angeles without an automobile, relying on public transportation, taxis, or, when necessary, the sedan-owning wife.

And I run — sweaty, heart-pumping, lung-burning, lactic acid-producing running — four our five times a week.

I seldom feel deprived or dissatisfied. I feel light and fast and energetic. I feel less like a middle-aged man on the downward slope of life and more like I did in my twenties, when I could play pick-up basketball for two hours every day and not need a week to recover.

Losing unwanted fat takes some discipline and some planning. But most of all it requires a desire for health and happiness that’s more powerful than the impulse to over-consume.

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