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Fitness : TV Actor Wins Weight War in a Walk

Fitting in Fitness

December 29, 1987|ROSE-MARIE TURK | Times Staff Writer

Actor Dan Castellaneta isn't a die-hard jock: He doesn't spend hours pumping iron, playing squash or pitting his cardiovascular system against a stationary bicycle. And he won't say "no" to junk food. Yet, he's managed to shed 26 pounds with his own laid-back fitness scheme.

After moving from Chicago last March to be a regular on the "Tracey Ullman Show," Castellaneta decided it was time to lose weight, maybe even get down to his college low of 145 pounds. The goal seemed feasible when the 5-foot-9, 180-pound actor realized he lived "only six miles" from the 20th Century Fox lot:

"I needed some kind of exercise, and I remembered that whenever I was overweight in college, I could drop pounds quickly by walking everywhere."

Applying his university tactic, the 30-year-old actor walks to and from work (about one hour and 50 minutes each way). On days when he needs to get there faster, he rides a bike--or drives his car and makes up for lost exercise with laps around Rancho Park during a lunch break.

On weekends, and mornings when he's not due at the studio until 11 a.m., he runs a favorite four-mile stretch near his home: two miles up Venice Boulevard and two miles back.

There's nothing special about the route--except it begins at Castellaneta's door.

"I can go right out the house and start running," he said. And he doesn't make the usual preliminary moves: "I don't do any warm-up exercises. I hate warming up. I figure it will just get in the way of doing the running."

There's nothing fancy about his equipment either. He uses the same pair of Reeboks for both his runs and his walks, and his bike is an old Schwinn 10-speed inherited from his sister, "a biking nut."

In the process of trimming his waistline from 36 to 32 inches, Castellaneta has become something of an exercise nut himself: "I like the running best, and I do it now because it makes me feel better and think better. It's also given me the energy to keep up with Tracey, who is the most energetic person I've ever met."

If he misses a day of exercise, it bothers him a little bit, but there's no remorse, he said, "unless I let it go too long, maybe three days."

Although he's begun to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut back on fried foods and red meat, he refuses to be "totally anxiety-ridden" about his diet. "The one thing I found that makes a big difference," he said, "is not eating past 6 or 7 at night. When I used to eat late and go to sleep, it was like having a hangover the next morning. Now, I wake up feeling wired, more alert."

High Energy Level

His energy level is high enough that he requires only seven hours sleep instead of the nine he once craved. But despite such highs, he can't get his actress-writer wife, Deb Lacusta, to join his exercise program.

"She works out in health clubs," the blue-eyed actor said, adding that's not his style. "I don't like the whole mystique of clubs. I'd rather do things on my own, and I like being outside."

Having tried each other's exercise method, Castellaneta said the results are in.

"Her system works for her, mine works for me. It's a matter of doing something I like. I'm probably going at a slower pace than someone who does aerobics or lifts weights, but I'm accomplishing what I want," he said.

Often when he's walking to the studio, he works on his lines: "It's a good time to memorize or go over things in my mind. Sometimes, I'll repeat over and over the weight I want to be."

Faith in Original Goal

A couple of months ago, he said he was willing to settle for 155 pounds, but now that he's down to 154 pounds he thinks his original goal is possible.

While the actor delights in his steady weight loss, the Fox wardrobe people have trouble keeping up with his changing shape. They frequently buy him trousers that are too large, he said, and recently they had to pad his buttocks with sponge rubber. The character he was playing needed to look 20 pounds heavier.

Fitting in Fitness


Occupation: Actor

Regimen: Combination of four-mile runs, six-mile walks, six-mile bicycle rides each week.

Fitness motivation: "To look better, feel better and keep up with Tracey Ullman."

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