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GUEST WORKOUT

His Body of Work

September 03, 1997|CANDACE WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tom Arnold built nothing less than a cathedral of a gym at his West Valley home.

He filled the 2,500-square-foot room with every kind of heavy duty, commercial exercise equipment, stereos and televisions, a wet bar, saunas, mirrors, windows offering views of mountains and his tennis court, vaulted ceilings and expensive flooring.

All this, and not just because Arnold is easily bored one moment and all keyed up the next--more so than usual with "The Tom Show" starting up Sunday at 9 p.m. on the WB Network.

There's more to it, and Arnold (formerly married to Roseanne) knows this better than anyone.

He had this homage to exercise built to his needs, his specifications because exercise helps the 38-year-old actor stay sober and clean. Away from drugs and caffeine and sugar. Wake up to a cartload of can'ts every morning--can't have this, can't have that--and a handy sanctuary makes sense. Makes for sanity.

Question: How did you get to this point, from sobriety to working out seriously?

Answer: I got sober in December 1989, and that first year I just wanted to concentrate on being sober and not what I ate or anything. So just after New Year's 1991, I put a small gym machine in my garage--the cars had to be parked outside--and started working out.

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Q: How hard was it to get there?

A: I resisted because I had played sports and worked hard when I was younger, and I was pretty trim. I worked in the fields as a kid baling hay. I worked at a meat-packing plant.

Without physical labor out here, I kind of let myself go. But your body, mind and spirit are all important. So, after my first year of sobriety, I thought now I have to do body and, boy, I remember the first time I worked out. I just did some squats and I could hardly walk for the next two weeks. I mean, I was in pain but I just kept at it.

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Q: And now you're working out a couple of hours a day.

A: Six days a week. I'll tell you what, if I don't do cardio, I mean, I get kind of crazy.

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Q: Crazy, how?

A: I mean, I just feel bad. I have attention deficit disorder and [I'm] hyperactive. One thing about cardio is that it just slows you, takes some of the craziness, some of the fight out of you. It's a fight in your head because you're tired, you know?

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Q: Getting that kind of result, cardio alone saves your butt.

A: Yeah, definitely it does. You know, I could do everything overboard, so I have to be very careful. I'll say, "Well, I got time to run eight miles," and end up running 16 and then I'm just exhausted so I have to be careful. It's just . . . managing everything. I also eat too much, but I really enjoy eating and good food and sugar.

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Q: Your voice changed completely when you said "sugar."

A: I have to be careful. Last summer I weighed 286 pounds. Now I weigh about 220. I'd like to get to 200. I don't know if it's going to happen. I fluctuate a lot. That's been my pattern. The one thing I haven't fluctuated on, though, in the last 6 1/2 years is working out.

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Q: Go back to the sugar for a moment.

A: Sugar is something else I have to watch out for--for two reasons. One, there's the weight and such, but it also affects me differently.

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Q: What do you mean?

A: The effects could be like, I don't drink any caffeine, period, because caffeine makes me tired. When you have attention deficit hyperactive disorder, everything is the opposite. When I was a drug addict, I liked cocaine and everybody goes, "Well, I bet you're really amped up," but I was pretty mellow. It mellowed me out. Alcohol was, yeah, was crazy and you have to be careful about it. With sugar, it can crash me.

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Q: Sugar makes you tired?

A: Yeah, right away, and so I've got to be careful about that. And it kind of ruins your day if you eat it too early in the day--you're just zonked out.

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Q: So, you do diet or not?

A: As far as watching my diet, I know what I should and shouldn't eat. I know enough about it. I've gone to a good nutritionist who's given me advice, but I also feel . . . I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes. I like to eat.

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Q: Well, yeah, especially when everything else is off limits.

A: Now, you can use food as another drug, but we all have to eat food so it's a little tricky. But I do enjoy good food. And I do know when I'm eating something bad and I enjoy it. There are times when I get run-down, when I've been traveling a lot, it's hard but I make a point of doing the workouts--but it's hard to maintain your diet.

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Q: Maybe you're just resisting having to be more disciplined.

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