In honor of the book being officially launched today (Amazon USA link, Amazon UK link, Amazon Europe link), I thought I’d post the introduction, and perhaps follow up with chapters one and two over the next couple of weeks.
Chareva spent a lot of time creating two-page spreads for the book, which of course I can’t recreate here. But I’ll insert her illustrations where it makes sense.
You probably remember someone like me from grade school. I was what the other kids called “a brain.” But that was almost 50 years ago, and I’m told kids nowadays wouldn’t insult me like that. Today they’d call me a nerd, a dork, or possibly a dweeb. Anyway, you know the type. I was usually the smartest kid in class, and I was lousy at sports.
How lousy? Well, here’s one of my not-so-fond memories from gym class: We were running a relay race where each guy on the team had to dribble a basketball down the court, make a layup, then dribble back and hand off to the next guy.
I was the last guy on our team, and when I got the ball, we were in the lead. I bounced the ball down the court, tossed it towards the basket … and missed. By a lot. I tried again and missed. And missed again. And again — mostly because my weak arms couldn’t fling the ball high enough.
The other team had already won, but the gym teacher growled, “You’re not quitting until you make that basket.” So I leaned back and hurled the ball as hard as I could. It bounced off the rim, smacked me in the face, and knocked me on my butt. At that point, the gym teacher decided I could quit after all.
Around age 13, something happened to my skinny body I didn’t think was possible: I started getting fat. But I didn’t become one of those big, strong, fat guys. Nope. I had skinny arms and legs, a fat belly and — most embarrassing of all — boy boobs.
I wasn’t fast even when I was skinny, but getting fat gave me the speed of a turtle. When I was in seventh grade, yet another gym teacher had us run a relay race. Once again, I was the last man on our team, and we were leading when it was my turn to run. When the last guy on the other team saw he was racing me, he didn’t bother running. Instead, he skipped to the finish line. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to lose a race to a guy who’s skipping?
Meanwhile, I was running as fast as I could … and my boy-boobs were slapping me so hard, it was like running with the Three Stooges. That’s when I came to appreciate the kindness and compassion that’s so common among adolescent boys.
And so, like millions of fat people before me, I came up with a plan: I’ll just starve myself until I’m as skinny as they are. Then they can’t make fun of me for being fat.
I went on my first diet when I was 14. I counted every calorie and only ate 1500 of them per day. The results were unbelievable: I spent weeks feeling hungry, cranky and tired without shrinking my belly. And so, like millions of fat people before me, I gave up.
But, like millions of fat people before me, I kept trying. Over the decades, I went on all kinds of low-fat, low-calorie diets. But I didn’t shrink my belly. Or I’d lose a little weight, then gain it back. As an adult, I spent countless hours jogging and walking on treadmills. But I didn’t shrink my belly.
And every time I failed to lose weight, I knew exactly who to blame: me.
I realize now I didn’t fail. The diets failed. The exercise programs failed. They failed because they’re based on beliefs about weight loss that simply aren’t true. I finally figured that out when I made a documentary called Fat Head.
I read a ton of research while making Fat Head, and when I put what I learned into action, I finally lost the weight and kept it off. And it wasn’t just the extra fat that went away. I also waved goodbye to a bunch of annoying health problems.
So in my fifties, I finally had something like the body I wanted when I was in high school. Well, okay, when I was high school I wanted to look like this …
… but this is pretty good, considering I spent most of my life as a fat guy.
After Fat Head was released, hundreds of people sent me emails telling me how happy they were to finally lose weight. Sometimes they included before-and-after pictures.
Lots of people who emailed me said pretty much the same thing: I’m glad I finally lost weight and got healthy … but man, I wish I’d known this stuff when I was a kid. My whole life could have been different.
Same goes for me. If I’d known then what I know now, my whole life could have been different too. So that’s what you’ll learn from this book: important stuff about diet and health I wish I knew when I was your age.