If you’re anything like me you’re a fat piece of shit. I first got heavy as a child, and my mom would shop for me in the ‘Husky’ section of the boy’s department. Getting older I maintained a plumpness through my 20s that was not quite obese; lots of New York City activity helped offset all the pizza and booze, I guess. But when I moved to Los Angeles in my 30s everything went to hell. I ballooned up in a few short years, and in 2012 I found myself clocking in at a whopping 250 plus pounds.
I used to look at really fat people and wonder how the hell they got to that point, and here I was, getting to that point. I felt like shit and I was unhappy and I looked simply awful. In early 2012 my uncle died; he had been taking absolutely no care of himself and he died enormously fat, with a respiratory system that was worthless and with diabetes that had begun eating away at his feet. He wasn’t even 60. I looked at him in the coffin, huge and gross, and shuddered. And then a relative at the wake told me I looked just like him.
16 months later I’m down 50 pounds. I have about 30 to 40 more pounds to lose before I’m done, but this feels like a real milestone to me. This week I recorded an episode of the podcast The Indoor Kids and the hosts asked me to talk a little bit about my weight loss, because they thought it could be inspirational for their listeners. I know that my tweets about weight loss have brought great replies from other people struggling with their weight. So now, at officially 50 pounds down, I’ve decided to share with you some of my secrets to losing weight.
Well, THE secret: don’t eat like such a fucking fat pig all the time. It’s as simple as that. I’ve been on Weight Watchers for the last year and a half, and that’s about it. I don’t go to meetings, and I only use the app on my phone. I’ve been doing some minimal exercise, but mostly it’s been a matter of maintaining eating habits that aren’t killing me. And get this: last November I fell off the diet wagon. I stopped tracking my daily eating for almost six months, and I began to feel fat and bloated. I was afraid to step back on the scale. When I finally worked up the courage I saw I had gained a whopping two pounds. Weight Watchers had changed my approach to eating so profoundly that even when I was off the system and not eating particularly well, I was still doing okay.
Here, in list form, are my tips:
1) Don’t start losing weight until you’re ready to lose weight. My dead uncle was my inciting incident. I got back on the wagon because a romantic situation went south, so that was my inciting incident to get on track again. Over the years I had tried diets or workout regimes but I was never ready, and so I would fail. When I failed I would feel bad about myself and I would end up eating worse than before. Each failure also built up a narrative that told me I would be fat forever, no matter what.
2) Take responsibility. You’re the reason you’re fat. You’re eating things you shouldn’t be eating, or at least eating them in quantities you shouldn’t be eating them in. Skinny people aren’t the enemy. Losing weight isn’t selling out. Being fat and unhealthy sucks, and fat people suck. I’m still fat, so I can still say that with impunity. But you won’t lose weight until you make peace with the fact that being fat is a decision you are making every single day.
3) Don’t sacrifice foods you love. I have given up one thing: beer. It’s tough, but it’s doable, and every now and again I allow myself one. Otherwise I eat whatever I want, I just pay attention to portions and how it fits into my larger daily eating habits. Weight Watchers is a great system because it doesn’t prohibit ANYTHING, it just allows you to understand the value of the food you’re eating and how to make sure you’re not overdoing it. I still eat pizza once a week, sometimes twice. And I still drink lots of booze. Yet here I am, losing on average a pound and a half a week.
4) Be patient. This goes hand in hand with the first point. If you’re trying to lose weight to fit into a dress or to look good on the beach, you’re going to have a hard time because you’re deadline dieting. I do have a deadline - I want to hit a certain weight by my 40th birthday, and it looks pretty good for me getting there - but it’s a soft one. Mostly it’s a goal. You have to understand that the key to weight loss is doing it a pound a week.
That patience needs to be there the first month. Those are the worst four weeks, full of cravings and stomach rumblings. But eventually you’ll lose your taste for grease and sweets and your stomach will shrink. If you can make it through that first month you’re golden.
5) Be committed. This also goes hand in hand with the first point. I will never, ever eat again like I ate in my 20s and 30s. Never. I might have a weekend, but the days of gorging myself are long over. Never again will an entire bag of Tostitos disappear in a sitting. Halloween bags of candy are safe in my presence once again. Whole pizzas are no longer being consumed. I know that this is how I will live my life forever, if I want to keep the weight off. And I’m okay with that.
6) Don’t worry about exercising. This is going to get me yelled at, but here goes. I barely exercise. I take walks now, and I’ve been doing push ups, but I do them because I want to. My body has energy and it wants to do these things. If I had made myself dive into a big exercise regime when I started dieting I would have failed - it was too much change. I needed to make changes in steps. Step one was learning how to eat and shedding enough weight that my metabolism started firing up again.
One final tip:
7) Enjoy the change. I used to wake up in the middle of the night with vomit in my mouth and nose, caused by horrible acid reflux. I thought it was all about spicy food, but it turns out it was all about being a fat slob. I still eat all sorts of spicy food (in fact I eat MORE spicy food now, because putting sriracha on a bland piece of chicken is a wonderful way to make a meal fun) but I haven’t had that experience in a year. I used to snore horrifically, now I don’t. I feel good most days. I get out of bed differently - and I mean that in a physical way. I move easier. Clothes fit better. I look better in them. What’s more, my body wants to get physical now. I’m at a point now where every couple of weeks I can see changes in my body that excite me. Even my feet got skinnier, believe it or not. I still have a way to go (side tip: be careful when buying new clothes as you lose weight. You’ll be tempted to splurge halfway through, but that will just leave you with a closet full of new clothes that are too big for you) but it all feels doable. I may never be ‘skinny,’ but as of today’s weigh in I went from the ‘Obese’ part of the BMI index to ‘Overweight.’ And I’m in no hurry - in about six months I’ll cruise into a solid 175 and weigh less than I did in high school.
I’m not looking for congratulations - I’m trying to tell you that this is something you can do too. I have no willpower. I have bad habits and I’m lazy as hell. My job involves getting out of bed and walking to my computer and sitting in front of that computer all day long. I love lots of bad food. But if a jerk like me can lose 50 pounds (and counting), you should have no problem at all.
On the left is me at my heaviest, as seen in the upcoming documentary Jodorowsky's Dune. On the right is me at Fantastic Fest last month. I'm not sure you can quite tell the difference, but it's about 47 pounds in total.