Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Wagon, Even at Home

I have spent the past week in Michigan, but that hasn't stopped me from exercising and (mostly) eating right. My dad has a membership to the local Planet Fitness -- an amazing gym for the price -- and his membership comes with guest privileges, so I have been working out hard every couple days. And I've been showing my family how to eat well, cooking them whole wheat spaghetti and making wild rice and Tofurky sausage and peppers -- ya know, all my classics. And they really like it! Eating healthy doesn't have to taste bad.

I have also started to train for the 10 Mile Cherry Blossom Run on April 1st. Just 92 days left (according to my nifty countdown app). It starts off slowly -- a minute of running, 90 seconds of walking, repeat 8 times -- but I have really been pushing it on the last couple minutes of running. Yesterday I pumped up the Aerosmith and pushed the treadmill up to 7, and then 7.5 mph! I kept that pace up for a whole minute and I felt totally exhilarated by the end.

Then I slept like a baby.

I will admit I've been eating more Thai food than is normal, and going out to eat with old friends. That will taper off soon and I plan to get right back to my healthy diet once I'm back in DC. And then... onward.

The Planet Fitness that has been keeping me sane this week.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Today I didn't eat so cleanly but I kept the calories low AND I started Couch to 5K.

I know it's silly but I already think my face looks a little thinner. I'm SO tired from all the exercising but I am also a lot more chipper!

  • Bagel with cream cheese (400), coffee/cream (100), 15g protein
  • Beefaroni (420, 16g)
  • [EXERCISE: C25K Day 1]
  • Grilled chicken with jasmine rice and butter (600, 35g)
  • Chocolate chip cookie (200)
  • Chickarina soup (260, 16g)
  • Syntha-6 (200, 22g)
TOTAL: ~2,200, 104g protein

Friday, December 23, 2011


My weight cannot be as bad as I think because today I wore pants that I bought 6.5 years ago, and they still fit perfectly. And they are not the kind of pants that would stretch over time. Sooo at least some of the weight gain has to be muscle mass.

HOWEVER, that changes nothing. My resolve is strong and I will succeed.

I would type more, but my chest, arms, and shoulders are incredibly sore -- Wednesday's workout has finally hit me, and it was almost impossible to put my jacket on tonight.

I can do this.


  • 10:30 am: 2 servings Syntha-6 chocolate protein powder, with 10 oz. of 1% milk (400 + 120 = 520, 54g)
  • 1:30 pm: Potbelly's: Big Wreck on Wheat, thin-cut (835, 42g) + Zapps chips (120, 1g) - half
  • 3:00 pm: Other half of Potbellys
  • 6:00 pm: 2 servings Syntha-6 chocolate protein powder, with 10 oz. of 1% milk (400 + 120 = 520, 54g)
  • [8:30 - LOWER BODY WORKOUT + 27 minutes on the recumbent bike]
  • 10:30 pm: Chicken breast with 1/3 cup of rice (400, 30g)
TOTAL: ~2400 calories, 181g protein

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No More Complacency


Looking over the other day's insane graph, three things jumped out at me:

1. When I pay NO attention whatsoever to my diet, and eat whatever the hell I want, I generally gain 1/2 to 1 pound per month.

2. When I vaguely pay attention to my weight, and generally try not to pig out, but allow myself a fair number of indulgences (regular pizza, Chinese, etc), I always gain 1/4 to 1/2 pound per month.

3. When I pay close attention to my weight, and choose my food wisely and with purpose, I always lose 1-2 pounds per WEEK.

That is not a typo. When I actually try, I lose up to two pounds a WEEK. And that's with diet alone. When I throw exercise in there, my numbers are even better.

In other words, complacency makes me fat. Luckily, that graph gave me a kick in my complacency. I simply cannot eat whatever I want anymore. I have to reverse the trend. If I do not, if I just amble through life vaguely paying attention, eating whatever I feel like, and not getting exercise, I will continue to gain 1/4 pound a month. That's 3 pounds a year. In 10 years, that's THIRTY POUNDS.

You may be thinking: Oh, come on, surely you'll notice and stop the trend before it goes that far. Well, I'd like to think so too, but the numbers speak for themselves. Go look at the graph. Yeah, in June of 2008 I started paying attention, and dropped 20 pounds over the next five months, but then I got complacent again and look what happened: The line started back up at a rate of over 1/4 pounds per month. The linear trend line from high school graduation to now is a perfect fit.

If I keep on my present course, then in 10 more years I will be pushing 250.

It's so easy to become complacent. Three pounds a year is nothing. "Oh, I'm almost the same as last year," I say to myself contently, every year, every year. After a decade, that becomes a pretty wide gulf.

I don't want to get back to my high school weight. I was a scrawny little twerp with absolutely no muscle. But I would love to get back to my pre-law school weight of <190, and even my post-Body for Life weight of <180. It's not just about looking better; it's about feeling better. I never had more energy than when I was working out six days a week and eating healthy. (And yes, I looked pretty damn good too!)

It took several false starts before I finally completed a Body for Life 12-week challenge. What caused me to succeed that last time? I finally realized that I had to make a big change. Well, it's time for another big change, and I think I'm finally realizing that.


FOOD LOG FOR DEC. 21, 2011
  1. Spinach florentine bagel with butter (400 + 200 = 600, 17g protein)
  2. Large turkey Italian wedding soup from Zoup, with sourdough roll (240 + 170 = 410, 10g protein)
  3. Random food at Lobby party: 3 veggie dumplings, 5 small meatballs, 2 meat pie things (600? 20g?)
  4. 2 servings Syntha-6 chocolate protein powder, with 10 oz. of 1% milk (400 + 120 = 520, 54g);  Radishes and hummus (100, 5g)
  5. 1 serving Syntha-6 chocolate protein powder with water (200, 22g)
  6. Pack of sliced deli chicken breast (275, 50g))
TOTAL: ~2700 calories, 178g protein
EXERCISE: Upper body work out (chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps; recumbent bike)

FOOD LOG FOR DEC. 22, 2011
  1. 1 serving Syntha-6 chocolate protein powder with water (200, 22g); 1/2 cup of Kashi GoLean Crunch with 1% milk (150, 8g)
  2. "Blackened chicken gyro" from Devon and Blakely (700? 50g?)
  3. Naked Protein Smoothie (450, 32g)
  4. Turkey sausage and 1/2 cup of Jasmati rice with tbsp butter (750, 34g); Radishes and hummus (50, 2g)
TOTAL: 2250 calories, 158g protein

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Observations on food to energy correlation

Today I ate:

* Soy crisps
* Coffee with cream and sugar
* A smoked salmon sandwich on multigrain
* Some Junior Mints
* Jasmati / wild / brown / red rice with canned chicken, and a bit of butter/salt/garlic/olive oil

And I have had tons of energy all day.

Note also that I started the day with a deeply discounted Bob Harper's "Smart Weight Loss" pills - basically some vitamins and caffeine.

So I've had a lot of caffeine today -- but none since about 2 pm.

Looking at the day, I see that I never pigged out (yet was never hungry), and had a lot of caffeine. The result? Lots of energy.

I'll be interested to see what happens going forward...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

David Garcia is My New Hero

Back in high school I had a pal named Dave Garcia. David was friendly, and funny, and - most relevant to this post - portly. Actually, that's putting it mildly. David was a BIG GUY.

David and I were both thespians to varying degrees, and I once acted with him in a performance of Into the Woods. Beanpole thin, bright red hair, the kind of guy who might truthfully have a cow as his best friend, I was immediately typecast as Jack of the Beanstalk.

David was also typecast: He played the Baker. Just by looking at the cast, even a stranger would have been able to tell that David was the baker. He looked like the kind of guy who spent all his time consumed by, and consuming, sugary dough.

David and I didn't hang out much in high school, but I do remember the one time I came over to his house after school. Offering to make me a snack, he reached into his freezer and pulled out, among other things, a large box of deep fried beef taquitos. A snack to me might have meant 2 or 3. He emptied the box of 16, putting half on my plate and half on his. I was surprised but delighted at this unexpected gluttony. After all, I was a teenager and I could pretty much eat anything I wanted and stay thin. What I didn't necessarily realize at the time was that, for Dave, this wasn't a one-time treat. He ate like this all the time.

David and I both attended the University of Michigan, but we didn't really see each other much in college. We emailed back and forth about the then-dwindling quality of the Simpsons, and one time I went to his dorm room so he could critique me on an audition monologue I was preparing. But after that, I lost touch with Dave, and I didn't run into him again until our ten-year high school reunion.

Me with David (and a mutual friend) at our 10-year reunion

Just as I remembered, David was friendly and funny and boy had he gotten portly. As I said, he was always a big guy, but the years had paid their respects and Dave had to be pushing 400 pounds. I didn't care, of course. Dave was a friend and I didn't care how much he weighed as long as he was a good person. And if he was happy with being 400 pounds, then that's really all that mattered.

What I didn't know at the time was that David was not happy. In fact, it turns out David had been far less jolly in high school than I had originally thought. He had gone through some pretty rough patches. Depression had hit him pretty hard. And he wanted to make a change.

I know all this because David keeps a blog. The blog is called, “Keep It Up David!”, And it details his weight loss journey. How big of a journey, you may ask? Well, a year ago David tipped the scales at 402 pounds. Today, he is under 250.

Over 150 pounds in one year.

Any particular weight loss secrets? Yep. Four words: Move more, eat less. It is the simple wisdom of every person to have ever shed massive amounts of weight. Oh, sometimes they reverse it: Eat less, move more. Either way, it's four words and it works.

The problem, of course, is sticking to those four words. You need motivation and you need dedication and you need accountability. David is lucky enough to be a pretty optimistic guy after all is said and done, and he desperately wanted to lose the weight, so he had the motivation.

Accountability on the other hand, that is harder to come by. You need somebody there to report to. Be it a reader on a blog, or a best friend, or one's family, or… Richard Simmons.

Richard Fucking Simmons!

Sequined Serendipity

David had been some sort of production assistant on Ellen, and one day Richard Simmons was the guest. While David was helping with production, Richard gave David his personal e-mail address and told David that If he wanted help, Richard was there for him.

A few weeks of deliberating, a promise to e-mail Richard a food log listing everything David ate for the last year, and a lot of healthy choices and Richard "Slimmons" classes later, and voilĂ . Skinny Dave.

David returned to the Ellen show last week not as a staff member but as a guest. Ellen was stunned at David's new body, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, and the show gave him thousands of dollars in gift certificates to high-end clothing stores and Whole Foods. Watching the segment, I couldn't help but tear up as David revealed his new physique, and reveled in his hard work and fantastic achievements. See for yourself, and try not to shed tears of joys for my dear friend.

And yet, even as the tears fell, my next thought was a sobering one:

David Garcia is skinnier than me.

This is kind of a big deal because of what happens when you turn that sentence around.

Matt Schwartz is FATTER than David Garcia.

Today, although my Body Mass Index is still technically lower than David's, if the two of us took a picture together, I might conceivably be described as the Chunky One. Indeed, if our high school drama teacher were typecasting Into the Woods today, David might very well be Jack; I might very well be the Baker.

Talk about lighting a fire under me.

I have to lose weight. I know that. I have been overweight for the past several years, ever since law school. I don't feel good at 210. I don't look particularly good at 210. I know from experience that I look and feel my best when I'm below 190–and ideally 180. I've wanted to get back there for a long time. And seeing David accomplish such an amazing feat is enough to really inspire me to get out there and work hard.

And for the last couple weeks, I have been working hard! I joined a gym! I've gone five times, doing four weightlifting workouts and one killer boxing workout that left me panting and vomitous on the floor! And it sucked at the time but now every time I cough or laugh I feel muscles I didn't know I had, and it makes me happy! And already I can feel myself getting stronger, and more energetic, and even people at work have noted that I've started slimming down.

David Garcia used to be the Big Jolly Fat Guy. Now, he is the Amazing Energetic Inspiration. He has achieved "Biggest Loser"-level success. If he can do it, I can do it. And I'm lucky in that I've only got about 25 pounds to lose.

So, thank you Dave. You're an inspiration to us all, and I look forward to one day visiting you in Los Angeles, feasting not on deep fried taquitos but on healthy and delicious food, and maybe even celebrating my own weight loss success with you.

Cheers to old friend David Garcia, my newest Weight Loss Hero!