J. D. Reed, whose report on athletes' diets begins on page 64, has given us the latest word on the state of his own shape, which is a svelte, for J.D., 236 pounds on a 6'2" frame.
"A friend of mine, another overweight writer, has pointed out to me that over the last 10 years I have lost almost 400 pounds. And gained back 350. There is something awesome about it—all these vaporized fat molecules coming and going, with a kind of tiresome regularity, like weekend visits from relatives.
"For years I have sought ways to rid myself, as the ads say, of unwanted fat. I tried Weight Watchers, and within 15 weeks I did, indeed, lose 45 of my 280 pounds, but I developed a neurosis about cabbage, celery and carrots. I found myself standing like a religious fanatic in the doorway of my local Dunkin' Donuts shop, delivering fire-and-brimstone sermons about fried cakes. But I soon put the 45 pounds back on. I then tried the standard high-protein diet: steak, steak and steak. I lost weight but went broke. Then came the high-carbohydrate diet. This cost almost nothing, but it didn't work. I could easily down a bowl of fettucine al pesto before breakfast and soon looked like Mario Lanza. I went on the water diet until I couldn't stand the sloshing noise I made. I fasted and had visions and hallucinations and cried openly for days.
"During the last decade I have counted calories, protein and carbohydrate grams, milligrams of cholesterol, sodium and potassium. I have eaten organically, broiled-only and raw, and the high-fiber craze had me consuming dump truckloads of Grape-Nuts. I have sounded the depths of gustatory despair, a Lost Weekend of haute cuisine which would find me in the kitchen at 3 a.m., poised to chug-a-lug a pint of béarnaise sauce, my wife weeping in the doorway, pleading, 'Don't do it, you don't need it.'
"But now I have found the answer. I have once more lost 45 pounds, and have kept them off for more than a year. The trick is not diet at all, but exercise. A normally sedentary American guy, I sat around swilling beer and hogging the sandwiches while watching sports events on TV and it never occurred to me, befuddled as I was on grilled cheese, to Do It Myself. I used to hate joggers, particularly the ones who preached, but they were right. I play tennis and/or squash five times a week now and eat almost as much as before, but I no longer have to sneak to the corner of the men's department where they sell clothes in what is called the 'executive cut,' meaning balloon-size.
"Physicians are always nagging at us to 'eat sensibly.' It is excellent advice. I can't do it. But if I keep on playing tennis I can still have the sweetbreads in cream sauce, a six-pack of beer, white bread and "real" butter, and, apparently, I am not going to need an executive-cut coffin."
J.D., STILL DEFINITELY REED-THIN