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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

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