Thursday, August 6, 2009

Push it to the Limit

I set out with a seemingly simple goal: reduce my body fat to 8%. I expected the process to take two months. It ended up taking 18.

I made quick progress in the first five months, when I eliminated processed foods and consumed more fruits and vegetables as part of a broader, healthier lifestyle change. I strictly counted my calories and had an iron will.

I went to Bob Evans with my parents last summer and ordered one of the lowest-calorie entrées, and substituted vegetables for starch. I ate none of the rolls and biscuits. I even managed not to order strawberry shortcake, my favorite dessert.

“Wow, that makes me kind of sad,” my friend, T2theZ, said after I told him.

Food constantly occupied my mind, disrupting my work and, sometimes, my sleep. The stomach pain I could easily handle. It was my passion for food and taste that hurt.

I had lost many pounds, and was confused why I hadn’t yet reached my goal. Only a few more weeks before you can eat whatever you desire, I’d continually assure myself. I was already thinking of my first victory food by the third month. I obsessed over whether it would be pizza, and if so, what kind of pizza, and where the pizza would come from, and which toppings it would have. Would I mail order a frozen pie from Giordano’s in Chicago, or eat it fresh from Roman Delight Pizza in Manassas Mall?

I encountered setbacks. On my family vacation at Virginia Beach last summer I ate a few pounds of Candy Kitchen fudge. I’m surprised weight gain was the only nuisance that caused, and not the explosion of my gallbladder.

I would eat strictly during the week and then splurge on the weekends, thinking that five prevails over two. But, the marginal gain from one naughty day will always overshadow a perfect day. You can burn only so many fewer calories than you consume before you lose mental energy and your body slows down. And you can consume three-fourths of a day’s worth in a single hamburger from Ruby Tuesday (Boston Blue Burger with 1,424 calories).

When my weight stagnated for six months, many questions ran through my head. Am I already at 8% body fat, though I don’t yet look anything like Will Smith? Does my body not want me to push further? Why am I punishing myself, being hungry every day, famished, when it doesn’t amount to anything? I wonder what rabbit tastes like?

I spoke with my friend, Vodka/Benadryl, about my lack of progress. “Back in high school, we’d have to cut for wrestling,” he said. “We had intense three-hour workouts and ate only 1,200 calories a day.”

Vodka/Benadryl suspected that if I stayed focused, I’d complete my goal in two months. I had been intensely dieting for 15 months, but somehow 2 more seemed unthinkable. Plus, it broke my three-weeks-to-completion estimate. It takes 3,500 calories to gain or lose a pound. The process is much slower than you’d think.

I re-dedicated myself and have more or less reached my target. I feel weightless, figuratively speaking, and elated. I don’t recommend anyone attempt this punishing endeavor. At times it felt like it controlled my life. I deprived myself of certain foods the way cancer treatment had so many years ago.

And besides, it will all have been for naught after I consume everything I’ve been itching to this past year and a half, like brick oven calzones. And Pizza Hut P’zones. And butter-soaked cinnamon sugar pretzels dipped in icing. And Mountain Dew Volt. And fries and burgers and fried chicken. And tacos. And nachos. And boneless chicken wings dipped in ranch. And Double Stuf Oreos, or Golden Oreos. And Starburst Jelly Beans. And Jelly Belly jelly beans. And Gushers. And gummy worms. And cherry Twizzlers. And Twizzler Sourz.

And another Chipotle burrito, because I already ate one as my chosen victory food.

And fucking strawberry shortcake.

And after I eat all of this, I will need proof that this tiny glimpse of time, when my body fat was 8%, was genuine and not imagined. Thus, I share this cropped photo that was taken of me, for historical purposes, and not to brag or be self-serving or be narcissistic.

Eat your heart out, Paul Walker, Ryan Reynolds, and Lance. Eight percent body fat abdominal display
Postscript: I provide only a taste of my sweet 15-inch scar in case I can later get money or publicity from it. I have no problem whoring myself out. I am waiting for a call from Mr. Hilfiger. I am also willing to provide a "before-and-after" to infomerical companies. Wait until I eat all the above foods, and I'll have a perfect "before" shot.


Lauren said...

your blog is fantastic (although... if newsweek knows that, i'm sure you do too...)

i started blogging about having hodgkin's a couple of months ago, and i was really excited to read the newsweek article. keep up the amusement!

also, congrats on looking great!


Benjamin said...

I was randomly searching my name on Google to see what would come up and lo and behold, someone with the exact same name as me blogging under a title that could not be any awesome-er. Absolutely amazing!

Good stuff man. Check my blog out also if you have time. Not sure if you're in to technology and stuff, but it's a good daily read.

Keep on Truckin'
the other Benjamin Rubenstein

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Thank you, Lauren. Congrats on looking good to you, too!

And congratulations to you, Benjamin Rubenstein, on having the greatest name in the history of the world.

Clare said...

You're going to get too hot to want to hang out with me again.

You suck.

Good to see things are going well!