Before 238 pounds, May 2008
After 152 pounds, August 2017
Brian Schwartz says he started gaining weight in college and knows exactly how it happened. Not popular in high school, Schwartz found making friends in college easier. With a relative bounty of new buddies, he sometimes found himself accepting two offers to grab a bite for lunch, one after the other.
“Or sometimes I ate at the Olive Garden for lunch and then the Red Lobster for dinner, both times ordering pasta Alfredo. . . . Many people gain the ‘freshman 15,’ I did the ‘freshman 50,’ ” Schwartz says.
Though eventually sporting a size 40 waist, he didn’t think he had a problem. He was wrong. His doctor told him his cholesterol was high and that he was too young for medication.
Schwartz wasted no time and started walking for exercise and using Wii Fit, a video game-based exercise program. He also downloaded fitness apps on his smartphone and stayed within the daily recommended range of calories for his weight and height.
He did not deprive himself of favorite foods but used portion control. He lost almost 90 pounds in nine months.
“I had to buy a new wardrobe a few times. I went down 10 pants sizes and have a 30-inch waist,” Schwartz says.
“I feel good.” He has kept the weight off for seven years.
Schwartz says he doesn’t eat breakfast. Although he knows this is counter to conventional dieting advice, he says it works for him. Lunch is usually a turkey and cheese sandwich or a piece of cooked chicken from Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace. Dinner is typically chicken or fish and almost always a spinach salad and two raviolis. He also enjoys dessert after dinner every night.
Schwartz walks eight to 12 miles every day — outdoors in good weather, at a gym during the winter — listening to 46 podcasts that cover subjects like pop culture, board games and Disney World. He doesn’t allow himself to listen to them if he’s not walking, hence the incentive to lace up and hit the pavement daily. Schwartz says he’s occasionally walked 20 miles in a day to finish listening to the podcasts. For the average person, 20 miles equals 40,000 steps.
“Believe in yourself, that you can do it. You have to want to do it. Exercise every day. Find a distraction while you’re exercising — whether it’s listening to podcasts, audiobooks or music — so it’s not thought of as work. Find ways to incorporate your favorite foods in your meals.”