300 pounds of fat later, how did one sib help the other?

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Quinton Horton, left, and his sister Brittany Horton. Together they’ve lost more than 300 pounds.

Recently I interviewed a guy who shed 90 pounds and reversed his type 2 diabetes with the help of his sister, who’d lost more than 200 pounds.

“I can’t even put into words how much I owe her,” Quinton Horton said of his sister Brittany, who shared her story on national TV when she appeared on “The Harry Show” in February.

Together they’ve lost more than 300 pounds, and it couldn’t have happened to a couple of nicer people. But it’s gotten me thinking: As hard as it is to lose weight, it seems like it’s a million times harder to help someone else do it.

So how did Brittany succeed in helping her brother?

After listening to both sides of their story, it sounds like the biggest factor was that when he most needed help – when he was “broken and depressed” after leaving the doctor’s office, worried that his health was failing at age 32, with three kids and a fourth on the way – she dropped everything and made him up a detailed, customized diet plan.

She couldn’t just tell him what she did, because she wasn’t diabetic. She could eat energy bars before a workout, but he couldn’t have that many carbs. So she looked through her meal plans for low carb stuff she knew he’d like – lots of dishes made with ground turkey, like meatballs.

Quinton wasn’t going to hire a personal trainer like Brittany did, or even go to the gym. He’s got four kids now, including a baby. But she helped him brainstorm a workable exercise plan that would work for him: walking during his work breaks at a nearby minor league baseball stadium that’s open to walkers. He’d do one lap during his 15-minute breaks, two laps during his lunch break.

Between his exercise, his low-carb diet, and giving up sugary sodas, “the weight just fell off,” Quinton said.

The other key thing, besides providing frequent texting support (she lives in Nashville, Tenn, and he lives in Fort Wayne, Ind.), was sharing a personal rule that’s worked well for her: If you get off track, just get right back at it.

“I can’t emphasize that enough,” Quinton told me, noting how both siblings goodnaturedly ate their mom’s special Sunday brunch on Brittany’s most recent visit, but then went for a 4-mile walk that afternoon and got right back to their diets.

None of this sounds like rocket science. So why did it work for them, when my efforts to help family members have mostly failed?

Well, the big thing that strikes me is that for the first four years of Brittany’s weight loss, it didn’t work. While Brittany was busy shedding 200 pounds from 2012-2015, Quinton was in the midst of his biggest weight gain.

He was settling down, working a sedentary job, then coming home and sitting on the couch until going to bed. He found himself turning down gigs with a hip-hop band he’d once performed with because he was afraid, at 6-3 and 395 pounds, he might pass out on stage due to overexertion.

It wasn’t until he got the bad news from his doc, and began to fear that his health was in jeopardy, that he was ready to tackle his problem.

Did Brittany succeed in not nagging her brother before he was ready? I don’t know the answer to that. The important thing was, she remained a good influence by maintaining her weight loss and staying positive about it. And then when he did ask for help, she delivered.

So the moral of the story, I guess, is to stay positive and be ready to help if asked.

Note to self: No more nagging.

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Finding a way to finish

It seems like about the only triathlon I do anymore is the YMCA Busy Body Triathlon, which is roughly the same distance as an Iron Man but gives you eight weeks to finish.

To be honest, I was kind of irritated when Colleen insisted we sign up again this year because despite our best intentions, it seems like we always have to scramble to finish everything up the final weekend, when we’ve got a lot of other stuff going on.

A week ago, I didn’t think we were going to make it because neither of us had even started the swimming. I’m a slow swimmer, so I need multiple sessions to go 2.4 miles. And you never know if lanes are going to be open when you need them to be.

Then Colleen had the brilliant idea to try the rowing option instead. I’d never tried the rowing machine before, but it was kind of fun – and MUCH faster. The downside was, I didn’t make any progress on my goal of getting better at swimming. But we got it done, and for once we didn’t have to push deadline to make it.

Unlike a race, finishing a fitness challenge isn’t about endurance and toughness so much as planning and follow through. At some point you’re likely to fall behind, and then you’ve got to brainstorm an emergency backup plan.

Finishing this one didn’t provide a morale boost so much as a sense of relief that we didn’t drop out. It felt like a strategy coup more than an accomplishment.

But we can always try to do it better the next time around. If we hadn’t nailed that finish, there might not be a next time.

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Tea plantation visit is a game-changer

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The tropical plant that produces tea is extremely hard to grow in this country. But it’s being done on Wadmalaw Island, S.C., at the Charleston Tea Plantation.

I’ve never cared for tea. But after doing some research for this week’s column on our recent visit to North America’s only tea plantation, I came away impressed by the potential health benefits.

Seeing the mysterious, long-lived camellia sinensis bush up close, and checking out the pole-barn operation that produces “American Classic,” the official tea of the White House for the last 30 years, helped me see this brew in a new light.

The plants at the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, S.C., originally arrived on a shipment from China in 1799. They’ve been transplanted a couple of times, first from a plantation owned by a family that produced a member of the First Continental Congress, a governor, senator, and ambassador to Russia, then to a neighboring plantation run by a biochemist who won first prize for his oolong tea at the 1904 World’s Fair.

What we’ve been drinking since we got back from South Carolina is black tea. But it turns out that green, black and oolong tea all come from the same tea leaves. The only difference is how much time they spend on the oxidation beds. 

Scientists attribute different health characteristics to all three types – everything from possible protection against heart disease, certain cancers and dental plaque to an alleged metabolic boost.  

But even if turns out that all these health claims are exaggerated, or later proved false, I’d been drinking WAY too much coffee. Time to change things up a bit.

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A replica of the container used to mix up the World’s Largest sweet tea.

One thing I’m not going to do is take up drinking sweet tea, however. While on Wadmalaw Island, we got a look at a replica of the giant container that was used to mix up the World’s Largest Sweet Tea last summer. The 2,524-gallon drink contained 210 pounds of tea – and 1,700 pounds of sugar, for a total of more than 3 million calories.

Apparently the recipe McDonald’s uses at some of its restaurants uses even more sugar – a pound per gallon, according to several web posts I saw from people claiming to have done time at the Golden Arches. Given that a pound of sugar has 1,775 calories, and a large 32-ounce soft drink is one-fourth of a gallon, that would suggest that a large sweet tea from McDonald’s has 443 calories, rather than the 280 listed on the McDonald’s website.

As my husband the numbers guy pointed out, it’s possible that some restaurant operators set their own sweet tea formula, opting to use more sugar to get more people hooked on their tea. But whichever number is right, that’s an awful lot of calories in a drink that could be healthy, thanks to all those antioxidants.

For more details on our visit to the Charleston Tea Plantation, see this week’s column in The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.

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The Charleston Tea Plantation isn’t a “Gone With the Wind” style plantation, but its grounds have that same feel. (Touring it is also free, which isnt’ the case at some other plantations we’ve checked out in the past.) 

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Conjuring up your inner kid

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It’s so hard to resist climbing on the 400-plus year-old Angel Oak near Charleston, but despite its massive spider-like network of branches, it won’t stay that way if visitors crawl all over it.

The whole time we were in South Carolina last week, this one phrase kept popping up in my mind: The Activity of Living.

It was a fragment from a recent lecture by Dr. Rudy Kachmann, longtime neurologist and head of the Kachmann Mind Body Institute in Fort Wayne. He believes that a lot of the health problems that cause people to visit a doctor could be solved by moving more and eating a nutrient-dense diet.

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Dr. K

At 80, Kachmann is more active than most people half his age, fitting a morning walk, tennis or pickleball and a workout at one of the three health clubs he belongs to into a typical day. But he likes to tell people they don’t have to exercise – they just gotta move. Take the dog for a walk. Toss a Frisbee with your kids. If you need something from upstairs or out in the car, go get it yourself rather than asking somebody to go fetch it for you.

Much as I like to work out, I’m pretty lazy about that Activity of Living stuff. Visiting Rowan last week in suburban Charleston gave me plenty of opportunities to break that habit.

“Activity of living!” I thought as I grabbed Loki’s leash to take him out for a quick run/walk before we commenced our various sightseeing plans.

That same mantra popped up every time I fetched something from the car, walked to Aldi’s for breakfast supplies, or walked to McDonald’s (just coffee) for an early morning writing session. When a storm blew up while we were at the beach, I took off running to fetch the car several blocks away while the girls gathered up our stuff.

As I jogged off, I thought about how weird it was that as a grownup, I rarely run anywhere unless I’ve made plans to “go for a run.”  

A couple of days later, exploring the ruins of the Colonial village of Dorchester near Rowan’s apartment in Summerville, I grabbed the camera from Colleen, our trip shutterbug, to take a few photos of my own before we left so Rowan could get back to work.

Remembering how Colleen had taken every available moment to shoot pictures at a tea plantation the day before, then sprinted back to the gift shop to make it in time for the tour of the processing plant, I thought, why not?

Racing back to the car after getting my photos of a crumbling bell tower from a church built in 1719, Dr. K’s “Activity of Living” mantra started to pop into my head – only to morph into something else.

“Act your age!” the voice in my head said.

No, thank you. At 52, it’s not easy to remember how it feels to be a kid. I’ve got to work at it a little bit. 

“Today’s ‘opposite day’!” I told that nagging voice in my head, cranking up the pace a notch as my waiting daughters rolled their eyes.

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The view from the fort wall at Colonial Dorchester in Summerville, S.C. The walls were constructed of a concrete made of crushed oyster shells.

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Hiking around Charleston

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The girls enjoy some sisterly goofing around on the beach at Sullivan’s Island. From left, Cassie, Rowan and Colleen. (Unfortunately Bob had to work and Ben had his spring break two weeks ago, so it is just us girls on this trip.)

Much as I wish our oldest daughter Rowan lived closer so we could see her more often, I’m really loving the chance to explore Charleston on our periodic short visits here.

I was bushed Friday night after our 13-hour drive, but we went for a short late night walk along Folly Beach after dinner and some pretty cool live music at Rita’s Seaside Grille. This is clearly the “happening” beach scene for anyone who doesn’t feel like driving two hours north to Hilton Head or the same distance south to Myrtle Beach. It was fun to check it out, but we all prefer the more laid back beach on Sullivan’s Island, and that’s where we wound up on Saturday.

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Amid all the local history, we were also intrigued by this futuristic looking dome house we found at the end of our walk along the beach. 

It was too chilly for swimming, but there is so much to explore on this tiny sliver of land along the north edge of Charleston Harbor: Blackbeard and Edgar Allan Poe have walked this shoreline, and key battles were fought here in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. We didn’t visit any specific sites in 3 miles of ramblings along the beach Saturday, other than a stop at Poe’s Tavern, but it was fun to think about.

“Did you know what Blackbeard wanted in exchange for his hostages?” said Colleen, who’d been reading up on local history. “A chest full of medicines.” Apparently Yellow Fever was a big problem around here back in those days.

On Sunday we trekked 5 miles through downtown Charleston, starting in Battery Park and winding up in the French Quarter.

“You know the British Navy suffered its first defeat here in more than a century?” asked Colleen.

I did not. Looking out from the cannon-equipped barrier wall  you can see Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began, along with Fort Moultrie across the Harbor and Pinkney’s Castle, kind of a junior varsity fort, in the middle. The USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier, provided part of the background scenery as we watched dolphins play and a helicopter water rescue drill.

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A water rescue drill in Charleston Harbor on Sunday. 

All of the houses along the Battery are beautiful, but even more so when you realize all the history that’s transpired there. The Edmonston-Alston House, for instance, was where the Confederate General who gave the order that launched the Civil War watched the cannons fire on Fort Sumter. General Robert E. Lee also once spent the night there.

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General P.T. Beauregard stood on this front porch to watch the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. 

General P. T. Beauregard, Confederate commander who gave the order to fire cannons on Fort Sumter that started the American Civil War, watched the bombardment from the house porch on April 12, 1861.

From there we walked through the French Quarter, theoretically searching for “the pink house,” which was built around 1700 and is the oldest house in the city. But really we were just gawking at all the cool architecture before vanishing inside the City Market, a three-block artisan’s market.

DSCN2115We wound up at Jestine’s, a classic southern eatery named after a local legend who lived another three years after the Atlanta Braves wrote to congratulate her on her 109th birthday in 1994. Jestine Matthews’ mother was a Native American and her father was the sharecropping son of a freed slave. She came to Charleston from the low country around the turn of the century and eventually wound up cooking for a prominent local couple. Their granddaughter named the restaurant after the woman who provided tasty homestyle cooking and a warm, welcoming atmosphere “for generations of friends and family.”

Rowan and I both ordered the pecan-crusted whiting, which literally hung off my plate. I got the Southern-style green beans and the broccoli casserole. Colleen ordered what she thought was a grilled cheese but turned out to be a sandwich spread with about an inch of pimento cheese, which is a big deal around here. Cassie and Rowan’s friend Jessica got the fried chicken, which was apparently ever bit as good as advertised.

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I usually eat my fish unencumbered by culinary crusts, but I was curious to try genuine Southern cooking.

But what we were looking forward to sampling was a slice of real Southern pecan pie, along with Jestine’s famous Coca-Cola cake. The waitress talked us into trying the coconut cream pie as well, and the girls wanted something fruity, so we got an apple-blackberry cobbler.

By that point, we almost had as many desserts as diners. But I wanted to preserve the conceit that we were merely “tasting,” and each one was so incredible nobody wanted to commit to just one. We passed the dishes around the table until they were gone.

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Jestine’s renowned Coca-Cola cake: the hype is real. 

It’s amazing to me that the best pecan pie I’ve ever tasted is merely an afterthought at Jestine’s, which is better known for its Coca-Cola cake and coconut cream pie. But I can see why that is. Pecan pie is served everywhere down here, while this cake is something special – an old fashioned chocolate cake that the girls said reminded them of Grandma Linda’s sheet cake, only thicker, gooier and richer.  The coconut cream pie was awesome as well, but I don’t have a lot to compare it to.

It would’ve been cool to meet Jestine, who died the year after the restaurant opened in 1996. But I’m glad her food lives on, as just one small piece of what makes Charleston unique.

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‘Undoing’ fitness as usual

Books have invited me into different countries, states of mind, social conditions and historical epochs; they have offered me a place at the most unusual gatherings.

Hisham Matar

 

If the library hadn’t had such a long wait list for The Undoing Project, it never would’ve occurred to me to reserve the large-print version – which means I might never have discovered the joy of reading while cycling.

Turns out, now that I’ve had some practice, it isn’t all that hard to read regular-sized print when you’re in perpetual motion, either. But large print + a fitness bike = extremely satisfying multitasking, especially with a few “tabata” sprint intervals to ramp up the sweat factor.  

This may be the era of surgically-attached earbuds, but I don’t synthesize what I hear nearly as well as what I see, which is why I pretty much only listen to music or page turners. It’s hard for me to get in as much real reading as I’d like. Toting a great book to the YMCA, and then tuning out all the garbage on the TV screens, makes going there that much more satisfying.

undoingprojectI’d agree with some reviewers that Michael Lewis occasionally gets too bogged down in the intricacies of Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s research on the peculiar ways the human mind can delude itself during decision making. But there’s some mind-blowing material in there, wrapped inside an almost-Shakespearian human drama. Has there ever been a friendship that provided so much mutual benefit – not to mention the benefit to humanity itself – while simultaneously testing its boundaries? Throw in a childhood spent living in a chicken coop to evade Nazis and the fact that even the most heralded Israeli academics wind up on the front lines of war from time to time just ramps up the story. Besides, one of the benefits of reading the old-fashioned way is that you can skip over paragraphs that don’t interest you. And that happens in even the best books, fiction or nonfiction.

In past years, getting enough cycling miles in to complete the YMCA eight-week triathlon has been a challenge. This year, thanks to plantar fasciitis and a stack of good books, biking is my go-to workout. I read during the warmup, cool down and recovery periods, setting my book down only for the sprints (three sets of 10 x 20 seconds, with 10 seconds off in between). The only danger is that if I get too engrossed, my recovery periods can go over. But I always make sure I get in enough tabatas, so it all works out. Certainly it beats sitting on my butt reading.

On Saturday I wanted to go read and cycle, but ultimately decided it was simpler to stay home and do a run/walk treadmill workout as I try to work my way back.I’ve never had any luck reading on the treadmill. But I bungee-corded my large-print book in place and managed to read during the walking segments.

In the end I was glad I’d stayed home because the final scene brought tears to my eyes. Funny thing was, I knew what was going to happen. But the way it went down felt unlike anything I’d ever read before.

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A better weigh to monitor fat loss

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Fred Miller, chairman of the kinesiology department at Huntington University, shows off the school’s Bod Pod which provides state-of-the-art body assessments. Miller, a 2:41 marathoner, uses the device as he works to shed 2 percent body fat before his next race.  

When football stars train for the NFL Combine, they hop in a state-of-the-art device called the Bod Pod for a complete body composition analysis that tells them their ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat, along with their resting metabolic rate and estimated daily energy expenditure.

Turns out mere civilians can get the same type of analysis at Huntington University  – for roughly the cost of a hair cut.

While your bathroom scale can tell you whether you’re at a healthy weight, the number that flashes on the screen doesn’t tell you whether those two extra pounds are water weight, fat or muscle.

You might not like the much more specific data the Bod Pod can provide. But if you use it as a training tool, it’s a great way to get a better understanding of the changes taking place in your body as you lose weight, shed fat and gain muscle.

When I interviewed Annie Giddens about her 200-pound weight loss last month, she said getting a body assessment done every six months or so has been much more motivating than merely stepping on the scale. And no wonder: Over the past year or so she’s seen her body fat percentage drop from 40 percent to less than 28 percent.

I was too chicken to take a seat in the Bod Pod when I went to check it out recently for a newspaper article, given that I’ve hardly run since Christmas thanks to plantar fasciitis. But now I’m kicking myself for not getting a baseline assessment. Aiming to shed fat and not just weight would be a great motivator once I start training again.

To make an appointment for the Bod Pod, folks in northeast Indiana can call 260-359-4148 or email fmiller@huntington.edu. The cost is only $20 if you have a membership at the YMCA or any gym or health club (the normal rate is $40). For more information, check out today’s Adventures in Food and Fitness column in The News-Sentinel.

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The real food pushers are in your head

One of the things I heard recently while visiting an African-American church to learn more about its healthy cooking class has really stuck with me. 

Bishop Crystal Bush, senior pastor at New Zion Tabernacle, had asked members to find the health lesson in a Bible verse, Proverbs 13:20: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be a fool.”

The answer the group came up with that day – “Sometimes we eat the wrong things just because of the people we’re with” – struck me yet again over the weekend, when I found myself in a Cracker Barrel, surrounded by obese Hoosiers  shoveling heaping mounds of home-style food into their mouths.

It was 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, and I’d wrapped up my eating for the day hours earlier. But my parents had made the trip to Fort Wayne to see Colleen’s jazz band performance, and they had planned to eat afterward, so we joined them.

Just because I was sitting in a restaurant full of furiously masticating humans didn’t mean I had to cave, though. If anything, locking in on an enormous couple a few tables away who spoke not a word to each other, gazing at their phones as they shoveled it in, I felt my resolve grow stronger.

“Nothing for me, thanks,” I told our server, having previously ordered coffee and water.

Once I made the decision, it just wasn’t that big of a deal. People had other things on their mind. Nobody was obsessed with, or even all that interested in, what I was or wasn’t eating.

Yes, there might be a bit of peer pressure to indulge if “everybody else is doing it.” Food pushers are real. Just living in the American Midwest can sometimes feel like being stuck inside a never-ending food orgy.

But the other night at Cracker Barrel, I realized that none of those voices have ever been nearly as loud or insistent as the ones inside my head.

I’m still working on learning to quiet that interior noise. But my days of blaming the people I’m with or the situation I’m in are over.

 

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It has been really cool to hear Colleen play with the high school jazz band and pep band (shown here) this year. Unfortunately we still have to endure the 8th-grade band concerts as well, but might as well savor these last few months of middle school, since I can hardly believe that phase of her life is almost over.

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3 amazing people who lost 200 pounds each

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Brittany Horton lost 208 pounds from 2012 to 2015.  Last week the Fort Wayne native got to tell her story to singer turned talk show host Harry Connick Jr. on national TV.

I used to think a 100-pound weight loss was really something. But in the past three months, without necessarily setting out to do so, I’ve interviewed three people who’ve each lost at least 200 pounds.

All three either live in the Fort Wayne area or – in the case of Brittany Horton, the subject of today’s “Adventures in Food and Fitness” column – grew up here. So unless this is some kind of anomaly, weight loss in the 200+ pound range is becoming more common.

Maybe that isn’t surprising, given current obesity levels. Has there ever been a point in history when we’ve pushed the envelop on how much weight the human body can possibly carry? Looking at Brittany’s “before” photo, I never would’ve guessed she weighed in at 386 pounds. (Neither did she; she had no idea how much she weighed back in 2012 when she was denied health insurance due to her size.) As a 5-foot-11-inch woman who always worked hard to dress nicely, she carried her weight pretty well. 

While not everyone accumulates that much excess weight, the fact is most Americans take in more calories than they burn. Few succeed in fixing the problem. Given the long road that lies ahead for someone who’s 200 pounds overweight, there’s something truly noble about embarking on and then staying dedicated to such a quest. Phil Brenneman shed his 200 pounds in 15 months or so, but it took Brittany three years and Annie Giddens seven.

None of them used a liquid diet or any kind of fad program. All three continued to tweak their approach as it became easier for them to exercise and as they learned more about nutrition and their own food issues.

Interviewing Phil, Annie and Brittany provided me with tons of inspiration but also specific takeaways.

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Phil Brenneman, 200 pounds lighter

*In Phil’s case, it was how he deals with being tired when his alarm goes off at 3:30 a.m. He said he knows his body will respond even if his mind is tired, so he doesn’t really dwell on fatigue. He expects to be tired and groggy. But he knows his body will feel better at some point during the workout, and ultimately he will have a better day because of it.

*With Annie, I was struck by how she’s gotten focused on her body fat percentage and not just her weight. She still weighs herself everyday, but what really motivates her in her CrossFit workouts is getting her body fat percentage where she wants it to be.

*With Brittany, the first thing you notice is how toned her arms and shoulders are for somebody who’s lost 208 pounds. Like Annie, she’s a big fan of strength training. But the key tip she always passes on to those who ask her for advice is to “not be too hard on yourself if you mess up.” Lose the guilt, and just get right back at it is her motto – ideally by the next meal, but no later than the next day. No exceptions.

All three of these guys are fantastic role models, whether you’re looking to lose a little bit of weight or A LOT.

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Annie Giddens has gotten into CrossFit competitions during her weight-loss journey.

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A tale of two pizzas

There’s something about the $5 price tag on a Little Caesar’s pizza that, to a certain personality, inevitably introduces the idea of plotting to get yourself alone with one.

It erases the cost factor from the guilt equation, leaving only the gluttony. And if you have a history of succumbing to gluttony, it’s not hard to go down that path again.

The first time I tried to have my way with an entire large pepperoni Little Caesar’s pizza I succeeded in my conquest but found the process less magical than expected. Yes, it was initially fun to gobble euphorically: This pizza was mine, all mine! But with no built-in off switch, I kept going just because I could. I wound up feeling miserable. And, of course, guilty.

Weirdly, this isn’t a tale from my fat life, but from after I lost weight – when I felt the freedom to experiment with my inner pig in a way I hadn’t before. Because it was so much less fun than I’d imagined – fairly unpleasant, actually – I wasn’t tempted to do it again.

Until recently, that is.

On a day when I was planning to try an experimental 4-hour feeding window, I thought, why not just go for a single meal? It could be a pretty nice meal, with an entire day’s worth of calories available.

Removing two slices from a large Little Caesar’s pepperoni pizza would leave 1,520 calories in the box. That’s pretty much my daily calorie limit, assuming I’ve got some exercise built in. I decided to go for it, curious to see how my Inner Pig responded this time around.

This was a food experiment, not a binge, so guilt shouldn’t have been a factor. I hadn’t eaten all day and had 1,500 calories up for grabs. But I still felt the need to do this in private – in the car, in the process of running a couple of errands. (Which raises the question, how much does pigging out in the privacy of one’s car contribute to the obesity epidemic? But I digress.)

This time, with a plan in mind, it was easy enough to allow my Inner Scientist to bag up two slices before I let loose my Inner Pig. And I gotta say, it wasn’t even phased by the missing pizza. Six steaming slices is still a pretty big temptation.  

An interesting thing happened this time around, though: On slice No. 5, I realized that I was not only getting unpleasantly full but that … the pizza no longer tasted very good. Suddenly I was hyper aware of all the grease and salt.

I stared at the last remaining slice for a good long while. It was mine, if I wanted it. But I didn’t. Not then. I put that slice in the trunk with the others, wiped my mouth, and went on to the next event on my itinerary.

Later, after I finished my last stop, naturally I was reminded of the leftover pizza. Once upon a time, that’s all it would’ve taken: Reminder of undefended leftover treat meant it was as good as gone.

Not this time. I’d gotten in the habit of not eating within three hours of bedtime, and at this point I had an hour at most before I hit the sack. What a sweet discovery that this habit is now well formed enough that I wasn’t tempted to break my rule just because of some stray pizza.

Technically, this experiment was a smashing success. Being willing to consolidate all my day’s calorie intake into this one pizza, taking the precaution of removing two slices ahead of time, and then being cognizant of the new sensation of recognizing the feeling of becoming unpleasantly full, I came out of that day with just 1,240 calories.

That makes this a viable option – a “cheat day” experience that could double as a successful diet day.

The only thing is, what I remember most is not the gooey yumminess of those first few bites, but the greasy saltiness of the finale. Maybe it’s time to move on to better food, and edit $5 pizza bombs out of my life.

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