Local Lifestyle

Saturday, Feb 16 2013 11:59 PM

SCOTT COX: Who's that fat guy? It was me, 30 pounds ago

By The Bakersfield Californian

If your New Year's weight loss plan isn't quite panning out, I'm here with terrific news: I've developed a near-miraculous diet that has helped me shed 30 pounds while eating pretty much anything I want. And I'm here to share my system with you.

But first a little background on how it all started: I was at a music festival last year with a bunch of my hoodlum friends, when I ran into musician Phil Vassar. We're chatting away when somebody points a camera at us, so we smiled and had our picture taken. No biggie. Yet.

A few months go by, and I get an email from a guy who saw the picture somewhere and assumed I would like to see it. The first thing I thought was: Who's the fat guy standing with Phil? Then it hit me. If I'd have had a cup of coffee, I would have dropped it.

I was the fat guy in the picture.

Before you assume that I'm just some dimwit who let this sneak up on me, you should know about a particularly cruel trick nature plays on middle-aged men. My pants size has been the same for 20 years and, at times, I thought maybe even smaller. Ergo, I couldn't be gaining weight. Wishful thinking.

The layer of fat around your midsection -- that euphemistic "spare tire" -- starts as a bicycle tire, grows to a small motorcycle tire, before eventually becoming the size of a standard car tire. The ladies call it a "muffin top," but it's the same thing. But men -- being dumb or delusional -- don't pay that much attention. And as that tire gets bigger, it pushes our pants farther down our hips, where our narrowest point is. So they get looser as we gain weight. It's a highly deceptive illusion.

But, being snapped back to reality, I made the decision right there that this would not stand. Which brings us to my system and how you can get it, too, for one amazing low price through this limited-time offer.

I invented the system on Oct. 8. My first rule was easy to follow: I wasn't going to send anybody any money under any circumstances.

I got serious and went grocery shopping. As I rolled my cart into the store, I thought about all those commercials with their diet plans and meal cards and calorie counters, and I thought to myself: Those things are stupid. I thought I'd give common sense a shot first. I went straight to the produce aisle. I loaded up on fruits and veggies. I went to the juice section and found some without any added sugar or evil high-fructose corn syrup. I got a big bottle of something called Green Goodness from Bolthouse Farms. It looks just like the stuff Iron Man drinks, so it had to be awesome. Then I went up and down all the aisles with all the cookies and crackers and other stuff I wouldn't be eating for a while. I knew that if I couldn't resist them early on, I certainly wouldn't be able to later. I checked out and went home to implement my homemade weight loss system.

Meals and exercise

A buddy I used to play tennis with is a personal trainer, and he told me once that a good meal before a match is an amount of scrambled eggs equivalent to the size of your fist, and some fresh fruit. This sounded totally logical, so it's what I did. I got three eggs, and threw out two of the yolks. I'm sure the yolks are full of cholesterol or whatever, but the reason I threw them out is because they're gross. Then I cut up some fruit. It was more or less the same amount of effort that I'd otherwise put into breakfast, and it was darn tasty, too. I also drank a lot of water. Like two big glasses of water.

Then, I set out walking, Forrest Gump-style. I have a circuit that I do around my neighborhood with my dogs, or with my grandson in his wagon, and it's a little over half a mile. I figured that wouldn't quite get it done, so I went up and down a couple of the streets that the previous route had omitted, and it ended up at 1.2 miles. At a brisk pace, it takes 17 minutes, or roughly five Johnny Cash songs on the iPod.

After my walk I did some sit-ups. I started with 25, and believe me, that was plenty. I was way out of shape.

When lunchtime came, I ate a little bit of deli meat, a little cheese, and more fruit. And walked that 1.2 miles again. And more water.

Dinner? I ate a regular dinner, minus the bread, and skipped dessert. And that was it. Oh, and I drank water. Then, back to the sidewalks for another walk.

I kept this routine up for three weeks with minor variations to stave off boredom. I also found out that there's lots of interesting spices to sprinkle on eggs to make them more interesting.

I also got in the habit of having a glass of that Green Goodness every morning with my eggs. I read the label, and it's chock-full of stuff I probably wouldn't be getting without it.

First results

So three weeks in, I felt like I'd lost a thousand pounds. Nope. Four. Four lousy pounds! But it just felt like I was doing something right, and I knew I felt better, so I stayed with it. I didn't even have cravings for bread or sugar anymore. That had to be good.

I didn't get back on the scale until a few days before Thanksgiving. At that point I didn't really care all that much about the numbers, as long as I felt better, and I did. Guess what? Using my miraculous system of "diet" and "exercise," I'd successfully dropped 11 pounds.

I cruised right through the holidays eating all the normal stuff, but less. I even had a slice of my mom's pecan pie. Ever had pie after avoiding sweets for six weeks? It's freaking magical. Then, I went right back to the routine, even ramping up the exercise, which brings me to the most amazing part of my game-changing system.

I spent less money getting in better shape than I did getting fat.

The fitness racket in this country rakes in about $40 billion a year, between equipment, gym memberships and nutritional supplements. All I did was stop eating stuff that was bad, replacing it with stuff that was good. And the good stuff costs about the same as the bad stuff. Water is free. Walking is free. I bought no special exercise clothes because the rudimentary exercises I was doing didn't require any equipment at all. Plus, those things are dumb.

High-dollar workout shoes? Nope. Every day I walk in the pair of school-bus yellow New Balance running shoes my wife bought for $19 at Discount Shoe Warehouse in San Francisco five years ago. They're pretty ugly, but that gives me incentive to keep moving. I can't see them unless they're stopped.

I mention all this because I think there might be folks who would like to lose some weight, but they get caught up in this maelstrom of advertising for all the stuff that they're told they should do, and then they get discouraged and stop. Don't. All that stuff is fine if you need it, but most of us don't.

Not that there's anything wrong with gyms: Heck, if I decide to take my quest for fitness to the next level, I'll need one too, for the specialized equipment. But my system focuses on getting started, knocking off some pounds and feeling better. It won't ever make you look like those people in the exercise videos, but then again, neither will those exercise videos. And by the time you realize that, the people you bought them from will have their yacht moored somewhere in the Caymans.

And feel free to drop even more hard-earned cash on fat burning pills and supplements. There's a powder you can sprinkle on your hot fudge sundae that will keep your body from absorbing the fat in it. If turning yourself into a hair-trigger diarrhea cannon sounds more logical than giving up the fatty foods in the first place, have at it. Just do a little research first.

Truth is, you don't need a miracle. Needing a miracle suggests that the odds are stacked against you, and they're not. All you need is a little common sense, the will to change your lifestyle and about 40 minutes a day for exercise. And time. Best of all, doing all this in a fad-free way means I know I can stick with it.

Just keep moving and be patient. Don't get on the scale every day. You'll give up. And when you see one of those commercials with a bunch of really hot twenty-somethings working out to high-energy music in what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, don't reach for your wallet. Just turn off the TV and go for a walk.

As for me, I just need to track down Phil Vassar and ask for a do-over on that picture.

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