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It's Not Just the Camera That Adds Pounds

November 09, 1998|FRED RUBIN

The one Hollywood expose that's never been written is a behind-the-scenes story on the overeating that goes on in the entertainment industry. Every sound stage has a banquet table laden with tempting snacks and treats. Every reading begins with a complimentary bagel and cream cheese, and no rehearsal would be complete without several trips to the candy bowl.

Writers work late with meals ordered in from some of the finest restaurants in L.A., and Teamsters work early with bacon and eggs from a truck. There is food everywhere we look, and it's all part of the job. A lot of us are overweight.

Four years ago, after 18 years of writing and producing for television, I was tipping the scales at 215 pounds. I had been up and down, but mostly up, and I decided finally to change my diet and my life. Today, I am 180 pounds and have stayed at that weight for 3 1/2 years. Here is how I did it.

To begin with, I pored through calorie reference books and made a huge list of every food that I liked, noting its caloric count. Taking that list, I created three weeks' worth of varied meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. I allowed myself a daily calorie intake of 1,200 to 1,400 calories, giving myself a little more leeway on the weekends. I posted copies of the calorie list and the three-week diet in my kitchen cupboards and at work.

Next, I scoured the supermarket looking for low-fat and low-calorie items that would fit my menu. I was delighted to find a huge assortment of items such as low-fat salami, "light" peaches, 98% fat-free turkey and baked Lay's potato chips. Of course, I included plenty of fruit and vegetables.

I also bought a treadmill, and I promised myself I would run for a half-hour a day at least four days a week. Finally, I committed myself to bringing my own lunch and my own snacks to work. The other writers and producers made fun of me, calling me "Johnny Lunchbag," but they weren't laughing as I grew thinner and they got heavier.

The following tips changed my life and my eating habits forever. Perhaps they may help you:

1. Eat breakfast.

2. Have healthy foods on hand. (Shop regularly, and keep the food available, prepared and close by.)

3. Bring your own food to work and try not to eat what's there for the others. (Bring lots of little snacks like apple sauce, sugar-free Jell-O cups, fruit, graham crackers.)

4. Drink lots of water. (It keeps you busy and makes you feel full.)

5. Exercise every day for at least a half-hour.

6. Meditate, nap and reduce stress whenever you can.

Vital Statistics

Name: Fred Rubin

Age: 49

Occupation: Television writer/producer

Old Weight: 215

New Weight: 180

Height: 5 feet, 11 1/2 inches

Time to Get There: Five months

Want to Share Your Success Story?

The How I Did It column is taking on a new shape. In the past, we've asked you to share your success stories about losing weight. We still want to hear those stories, but we also recognize that there is more to physical fitness and staying in shape than weight management.

So we're inviting you to tell us about your accomplishments in other areas: how you learned to mountain climb or roller-blade, trained for a half-marathon or discovered a unique way of keeping fit or dealing with a nagging ailment. We'll begin running the first of these stories in the Dec. 7 issue.

As always, tell us your story in a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise and encouragement, as well as any emotional and physical changes.

For weight-loss stories, send us a full-body color photo of yourself, before and after. For other types of stories, send a color photo of yourself doing the activity you're writing about.

Send essay and photos to How I Did It, Health, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Include daytime and evening phone numbers. Submissions cannot be returned. And, please, no phone calls.

In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times Health section gym bag.

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