Two things, one quick, one not so quick.
First off, as an addendum to my last post: For all of my certainty and commitment when “trying to help” people by giving them notes, I am frequently, frequently wrong.
As I have told my comedy friends, virtually any time I open my mouth in classes or groups with Armando Diaz, the maestro of the Magnet, to say something like “I think…”, the next phrase is uttered by an Armando a simple: “Well, I don’t.” About half of this is playful and I still do OK around the guy. But it’s important to remember that I am still pretty goddam young and pretty goddam stupid and even if something insane does cause me to go up and be all self-serious to you, I apologize in advance and please only take it for whatever your want or, even better, say “fuck that guy”.
I will have deserved it.
I posted this picture on Facebook of me this afternoon in a new shirt that I bought at an American Apparel warehouse sale as an example of what I look like for people who haven’t seen me wear a Medium before (I am very proud of this).
Other than the typical (and nice) “Wow nick you look great”-s, I received two strong reactions:
1. You look really, really gay in that shirt.
2. How did you do that?
This is not a simple answer, it is easier for dudes (I hear) and it happened to work well for me where it will not work well for others.
Some people do sports to lose weight. Some people count calories. Some people (like my friend Frank who had a FAR more drastic transformation than me) become gym rats.
This is my story:
Back in June 2011, I had a bad date which was one in a series of bad romantic encounters that broke the camel’s whatever. I had told myself many times if I wanted to be more attractive, I could lose 20 lbs and this bad date spurred me to think: “Well, if this is the quality of women I am attracting I should probably change something.”
So then, critically, I had an example:
My friend Jon Bander had lost around 120lbs (over a long period of time) and was getting compliments from all the ladies I knew for getting even skinnier. Bander was a good enough friend that when I decided to do this, I had someone I could talk to about how he lost the weight and how I could lose mine.
By the time I sat down with Bander to start talking and finally realize that he’d never remember to bring his old copy of “The South Beach Diet” to our sketch meetings, it was late June and I just bought the book by Dr. Arthur Agatston. If you plan to do what I did, buy that book.
Before I start, caveats:
Know why you are doing this: I did this because of a combination of proving to myself that I could fulfill a boast I had made and because I was unsatisfied with my love life. One of those things came true and was strong enough to sustain me. If you don’t have a good reason, whether it be for your health or whatever, you’ll fail.
Have a coach/mentor/message boards: There were a million times where I freaked out and was worried that the slightest misstep would totally fuck me. This sort of behavior leads to self-sabotage. Have someone you’re doing it with, a friend who’s done it successfully, a community of people you can refer to. It will help give you confidence and remind you that others are doing this too.
Remember that there is strength in not caring about your appearance and weakness in doing so: Now that my weight has stabilized and I’ve bought some new clothes I am beginning to feel ok. But until very recently, I was much happier when I was 225 than when I was less than that. Caring about your appearance is a shitty thing and as your body goes through crazy changes, you will feel incredibly insecure (if you are like me). Know that this is normal and that other than a feeling of some accomplishment, weight loss doesn’t solve psychological issues. If anything, it causes more.
Don’t not eat: This was a great one giving to me my Bander. Nothing will kill this more than not eating or starving your body. This is not a calorie counting diet (though use your best judgement), so adhere to the rules instead of not eating. I am proof that this can work if you follow things through (at least till I gain 40 lbs…) so believe in the methodology, not anorexia.
These are roughly the three phases of the modified South Beach diet that I did:
Phase 1: Strict Phase/Kickstarter
Once you will read the book, you will understand that the way the diet works is basically by eliminating sugar and things that become sugar easily. Your first phase will be detoxing your body from quick sugar rushes.
This phase last two weeks.
NO: Bread, Potatoes, Corn, Rice, Fruit, Anything with flour, ANYTHING WITH ADDED SUGAR, BEER, WINE, LIQUOR. (You may want to think about other ways to have fun.)
Sugar is: Glucose (white sugar), fructose (corn syrup or fruit).
THINGS YOU EAT: Lots of salads (dressing, moderately is fine), meat/tofu. I ate a lot of chicken fingers (lightly breaded). Eggs. Cheese. Coffee. Veggies! Splenda-y things for dessert which you should eat! (I got Jello Mousse Temptations–1 a night–which saved my fucking life.)
Think of ways in this phase to replace the forbidden things in this phase with not forbidden things. If you’re going to get Indian or Chinese, don’t get rice. If you’re getting Halal food, get your chicken or gyro over lettuce instead. Try to still enjoy the same things you enjoyed in your normal life as much as you can and eat delicious things within the boundaries. Carry around nuts (important) in your pocket in case you get hungry, since your body will get hungry more easily as it craves sugar.
Know that in this phase, you are detoxing, so your body will be acting like it. You will have cravings, your mood may be erratic, you will be dying to just fucking eat a sandwich. DON’T. STAY STRONG. Seek support if possible.
You will lose 8-20 lbs depending on your body and strictness by the end of two weeks at which point Phase 1 is over.
Phase 2: Transitional Phase/Set-Up
This phase will last an unspecified amount of time, ranging anywhere from 1-6 months to more until you reach your target weight.
STILL DON’T HAVE: White Bread, A lot of potatoes, White Rice, Almost anything with Added Sugar, Corn, White Pasta, BEER.
DO HAVE: Meat, Veggies, Dairy, Whole Grain Bread, Brown Rice, Cereal with 5g or more Fiber and not a lot of sugar, Fruit! (hooray!), Dark Chocolate (THANK GOD), Red Wine, Liquor Drinks w/Seltzer or Diet Coke(sparingly).
In this phase, you start transitioning back from the hell of detox to real life. Take it easy doing what you do. Start adjusting. Having a sandwich, even on whole wheat, may seem like a weird thing at this point. Your stomach has also shrunken at this point. You will start wanting less food (as weird as that seems). Start slowly adding “good carbs” to your diet. Maybe you have a whole grain sandwich for lunch and a salad for dinner. Weigh yourself sometimes but not too much and use your best judgement.
At this point you may lose anywhere between 0-4 lbs a week. Fun.
This phase is much more liberal than the other phases so start finding small ways to ease yourself back to reality. If you have to break very occasionally at this point, it’s fine as long as you pay attention and don’t let that become your life. Find ways in this phase to live a life that works for you, which I found pretty easy. Just order brown rice or get your sandwich on whole grain. Have some potatoes but not a lot. Carry around some dark chocolate in your pocket like you used to (and may still) carry around nuts, so that you can eat some anytime you want something really terrible for you. Dark Chocolate is delicious and not that sugary as desserts go.
When you go out drinking with your friends, get whiskey neat or red wine. Both are expensive, so you might drink less, which is good and you drink less of them anyway than you would beer, which is like drinking a loaf of bread that kills you.
This should somewhere naturally, when you are ready, transition into:
Phase 3: Life.
There are technically no rules in this phase, but by this point you should be starting to feel out what you want your new body to look like. Maybe start exercising, like I did, doing Yoga to get some tone on your body. Your body will be very weird now. You’ve kind of cheated God, so you won’t be fit even though you are skinny. You will feel like a miniature fat person, but that will be good enough to start from.
You don’t go back. You go all the way back. This diet is both over and the rest of your life.
It sounds weird to say and I thought it was weird when I was reading it but you will know what to do at this point. If you have read the book and understand the general principles, you will know how you lost weight and how to live. Just keep doing what you were doing in phase 2, but then find your own balance of letting yourself have fun. You will know, or you can ask someone.
Know that you probably won’t drink a lot of beer anymore. You probably won’t have another Coke for a while. These are things you will not have in your life.
It may not be easy, but you do get to wear cool shirts.
THREE TIPS BY ME, NICK FEITEL, ABOUT THIS STUFF:
Find ways to break the diet without really breaking the diet: I refer to my SB diet as modified because I ate things you should not have eaten on it: Whole Milk, Fried Foods, etc. I did these things because they were ways of letting off steam for me as someone who is a frequent self-saboteur. Even if eating lightly breaded Fried Chicken Strips is not really phase one material, it is a lot less bread than a piece of bread or a dessert like Oreos. I might feel guilty when eating them, but I haven’t actually ruined my diet (unless I eat them constantly) while also satisfying the part within myself that wants to ruin my diet. For me, this was a large part of my diet’s success. Also, know that if you hate everything that you eat, you will not do this diet. It will feel like punishment instead of a lifestyle change and so when it’s over you’ll “reward” yourself by going back to your old habits. No good. Make sure you eat as deliciously as you can! Have fun! This will make you happier and thus more likely to succeed.
If you want an extra challenge, pay attention to your body: This seemed like the stupidest thing when people used to say it to me, but if you want to lose weight, eat less. Don’t starve yourself, but eat relatively slowly. If you think based on experience or belly-fullness that something might be enough, stop eating! Take it home and have delicious leftovers for later that night or lunch-y breakfast! It’s a great gift that is both made easier by the diet and will really help you toward the end of Phase 2 when you are feeling most stable.
When you do break the diet or get to phase 3, break it in ways that inspire you: Rather than returning to your old habits of eating, why not just follow what seems fun? If someone is having a bake sale and you see something you want, get it! Don’t go to a deli and get a Twix just because. Find things that inspire you to make it a treat for yourself which could be something big like a Brownie Sundae from Per Se, or a rare Candy Center Crunch from a Manhattan deli, which is your favorite Good Humor bar. Open yourself to discovery and have what makes you feel good and enough that you don’t feel awful after while still getting your fix.
And there you go. This turned into a real thing, but that’s that.
As always, don’t do this if you don’t think you need to or out of insecurity. Have a reason, be confident and decide if this is something you want to embark on like any voyage or ship. And know like a voyage it might be queasy as shit. And just know that. Think calmly. Breathe.
And you’ll probably fuck up less that way.
I know that works for me.