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Fitness | HOW I DID IT

Former Gym Teacher Needed New Game Plan

October 12, 1998|STEVE KALLEN

A former gym teacher, I used to have the luxury of eating anything and everything, because I was active enough and could burn off the calories. Pizza, cannolis, margaritas, guacamole, martinis, cheesecake--foods not conducive to keeping a "girlish" figure. With my teaching days behind me and being entrenched in sales, my eating habits didn't change. I was no longer burning off the calories. (My kids said that if I wore a yellow raincoat, people would shout "Taxi!")

As I got older, I had convinced myself that sugar and preservatives were two of the four food groups. When I tipped the scales at 234 and I had a hard time tying my shoelaces, I decided that it was time to do something.

Not one to get involved with a fad weight-loss plan, I understood a sensible plan meant losing no more than two pounds per week. Common sense told me that my strategy should consist of well-balanced meals and exercise. I made a list of all the foods that I could live without and made the commitment to eat smaller portions of "healthy" foods. In conjunction with my ski machine and my abdominal crunch exerciser, I set a goal to lose 34 pounds. I figured 200 pounds on my 6-foot frame was attainable.

My wife and two kids were very instrumental in my weight loss. They gave me the positive feedback that I needed as the scale told me that I was shrinking. I became compulsive about my weight loss. I would weigh myself a handful of times throughout the course of the day, when I knew that once a day would be enough. While out of town on business, if I couldn't access a scale, I would obsess about going home and being able to weigh myself.

As the months went by, I became more comfortable with eating one slice of cheese pizza instead of two slices. Initially, the concept of not having a sugar-laden dessert made me a very unhappy camper. But as I received positive reinforcement when I stepped on the scale, I didn't mind substituting fresh fruit for dessert. As the months progressed, I was pleased that no longer could anybody joke that the only scale that could hold me was the one at the butcher.

I lost four inches off my waist, two off my chest, and one-half off my neck. I hit my goal on a Monday, and proceeded to box up my entire wardrobe and donate it to a local charity. (I figured that by getting rid of all of my old clothes, it would make me more committed to keeping the weight off.) It was a little embarrassing waking up the next day and staring at an empty closet. I was so focused upon getting rid of my "fat" clothes, it never occurred to me that I would have to replace my wardrobe.

I reached my goal and have managed to lose an additional two pounds. I am no longer intentionally trying to lose weight. Instead, I am committed to the maintenance mode of my weight loss program. I like what I see when I look into the mirror. My bulging belly has disappeared, and my face is thinner. My hair is still graying--I guess you can't win them all!

Vital Statistics

Name: Steve Kallen

Age: 46

Occupation: Sales manager

Height: 6 feet

Old Weight: 234

New Weight: 198

Time to Get There: 4 1/2 months

Want to Share Your Success Story?

Losing weight is as individual as gaining weight. Do you have a story on how you got in shape and stayed there? If so, we'd like to hear from you with a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise, encouragement / support as well as your emotional and physical changes.

We'd also like you to send us full-body color photos of you, before and after.

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

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

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