How to Lose Weight Eating Only Carbohydrates

One thing all the fad diets seemed to have in common was the elimination of all breads and pasta as step one. Since they all shared this feature, I decided that fad diets were, in essence, anti-Italian.

Probably the most fun part of any family reunion is that one glorious moment when a relative you haven’t seen in years does a double take when he sees you and lets you know in no uncertain terms just how fat you’ve gotten since the last family reunion.

“Whoa! I guess they’ve been keeping you well fed back home, huh?!?”

My great Uncle Rocky was the DiGiorgio relative who most loved to inform people just how poorly they were doing on his personal fitness barometer. As it happened, Rocky was always in solid physical shape, so it was hard to find a good rejoinder whenever he zinged you. It was always easier to get back at my mom’s friend Mario, who would constantly inform people they were fat when he was not exactly svelte himself. Rocky’s “observations,” on the other hand, could be deadly.

On one memorable occasion, Rocky told my Cousin Anthony, “Anthony! When are you gonna start losing some weight already, here?”

“I did lose some weight since the last time you saw me,” Anthony replied.

Rocky was incredulous. “You lost some weight? Must have changed scales!”

Rocky got my brother really good during one family reunion six years ago. Brian has never quite forgiven him.

I was at my heaviest during the time I graduated with my master’s degree from the College of Staten Island. I had not been monitoring my weight, and had been eating a lot of chicken quesadillas out with friends at Perkins and Applebee’s at 10 or 11 o’clock at night not thinking of the consequences. So I was in for a rude awakening when I got my graduation photographs back from K-Mart only to discover that I no longer had a photographable neck and that all the features on my face seemed to have disappeared.

My worst fears were confirmed not long afterwards when I went to the movies with my friends David Litvinov and Griffin Reilly. I had to get up during the film to go to the bathroom, and I had trouble squeezing past David to get to the aisle. Annoyed that I was blocking his view of the film, David complained, “Marc, I came here to watch Eyes Wide Shut, not My Big Fat Italian Stomach.”

A week later, I still had the phrase “My Big Fat Italian Stomach” in my head. I was furious with David, but I knew he was right. I was too heavy. I needed to do something about it. But what?

The Atkins Diet craze was not yet in full swing, but it was gathering enough steam that a few of my friends were on it. Griffin, for example, had lost something like twenty pounds on Atkins. Then he gained it all back. My friend Smiley [his real name was Demosthenes Margaritis, which was too hard to say] lost thirty pounds on Atkins, and gained it all back. So Atkins didn’t seem to work. It certainly didn’t work well for me. For one thing, I’ve never been as big on meat as other men. So the idea of eating a plate of bacon every day for every meal didn’t sit well with me. For another, I had been a bread, rice, cheese, and pasta man all my life. That’s all I like to eat. I am the carb king. But one thing all the fad diets seemed to have in common was the elimination of all breads and pasta as step one. Since they all shared this feature, I decided that fad diets were, in essence, anti-Italian. And the last thing I would do is embrace a diet that was prejudiced against my Mediterranean ancestors.

So I decided to start small. Instead of eliminating all carbs as step one, my first step on the Marc diet was to eliminate all candy bars.

This was surprisingly hard to do.

To make it easier, I gave up candy bars for Lent, so if I happened to cave and get a candy bar, I was not only hurting my waistline … I was hurting Jesus.

I lost two pounds during Lent.

After Lent ended, I decided I would give up eating after dinner. And, if I got hungry at 10 o’clock at night, I would have a small cup of tea, but no food. This was difficult to do, as I often liked to make myself eight ravioli at 10:30 each night as I sat down to watch a DVD.

But, three months later, I had grown accustomed to step two. I was getting used to disciplining myself. And I had lost five pounds.

I was very excited about this, and told my friends Smiley and Griffin that I had lost five pounds.

Smiley, who was at least as fat as I was, if not more so, was unimpressed. “Five pounds! That’s nothing to celebrate. I lose five pounds every time I take a crap.”

“That’s a revolting thing to say,” I grumbled.

“The most revolting thing about it,” Griffin cut in, “is that he’s probably not saying that for effect. He’s probably telling the truth.”

For step three of my diet, I decided that I needed a little bit of exercise, so I signed up for a once-a-week tennis class with Griffin as my instructor. I wound up being respectably mediocre at tennis and Griffin was a wonderful tennis instructor.

I lost another five pounds.

Then I remembered a diet that I could actually embrace. I hadn’t heard about it much lately, but a few years before the Subway franchise had made a name for itself by hyping the Subway Diet. Apparently, a really heavy dude named Jared Fogle had taken it upon himself to walk several miles to Subway each day, eat a Subway sandwich with no fixings or mayo, and then walk home. After a decent interval doing this, he wound up super thin. He told Subway his story, and they were so delighted that they made him their spokesman, and he became rich and famous. (I think this is what happened. I haven’t done extensive research on the Subway Diet, so I might be wrong.) Anyway, as an added bonus, I hadn’t heard anything scandalous about him gaining all the weight back. So I decided that I would do a Marc variant of the Subway diet. It wouldn’t be exactly the same, because I decided that I hated wasting money eating out. And I wouldn’t want to do it every day. And, knowing me, I would need to bribe myself to give myself incentive to do all that walking.

This is what I came up with:

Three times a week, I would walk five miles to the nearest Blockbuster Video, buy a DVD, then walk home and make myself a bowl of Cheerios without adding any sugar. After Cheerios, I would read one of the books required for my next comprehensive exam and crawl my way ever closer to a PhD in English literature from Drew University. It was Marc’s Blockbuster Video diet. It worked very well for a while. I would walk in the dead of winter, in the freezing cold, up steep hills, grunting all the way, to get the opportunity to buy A Bronx Tale, or some other such film. If I was ever feeling lazy, and wanted to drive to Blockbuster instead of walk, I would punish myself by not allowing myself to buy a film. One time, when I was feeling particularly reluctant to walk, I drove to Blockbuster Video. Then I realized that a digitally remastered special edition of Roman Holiday had just been released on DVD.

But I couldn’t buy it because I hadn’t walked to Blockbuster.

I hadn’t earned it.

So I drove home, put on my hat and scarf, walked back to Blockbuster, and bought the film.

After three months of this walking to Blockbuster, not eating candy bars or eating after dinner, and playing tennis once-a-week, I had lost thirty-five pounds.

And I was still eating pasta like there was no tomorrow.

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