In the British comedy "Absolutely Fabulous," there's a great scene where the frumpy Jennifer Saunders character, Edina, frustrated about her weight, tells her mother, "Inside of me is a thin person just screaming to get out." To which her mother replies, "Just the one, dear?" So when I promised my wife in January that I would give her a new husband for our anniversary in May, her first reaction was, "Why? Where are you going?" Then I explained, no, it would be me, just skinnier. She seemed a little disappointed. And skeptical. I said, "I'll have you know that inside of me is a skinny Charley just screaming to get out." And before she could hit that one out of the park, I said, "OK, maybe three Charleys. Possibly four."
I tipped the scales (or, I should say, squished the scales) on Jan. 6, the day after my 54th birthday, at 269 pounds. My blood pressure was a scary 150/105 and I could hardly walk to the refrigerator without becoming out of breath and breaking a sweat. How I got in that shape, we don't need to go into here. Let's just say, I thought McDonald's only sold cheesebugers in pairs.
I have gained and lost more weight over the years than most people (and some large animals) weigh. But this time would be different. I hoped.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Memminger at his patio on April 27, when he weighed in at 218 pounds.
First thing I did was go out and buy a $1,000 elliptical training machine, a device that would have come in handy during the Spanish Inquisition and probably could prove useful at Guantanamo Bay today. It looks like a giant metal insect but it's easier on the knees than a treadmill and just a little less annoying than "the rack". I named it "The Beast," and when I started I could hardly do 10 minutes on it without fearing cardiac arrest.
Then I launched into a rigid food-intake program based on the South Beach Diet. That's the "no carbohydrates, no sugar ... no nuthin' " diet. Actually, you can eat just about anything you want as long as it isn't anything you like.
But it worked. On May 5, our anniversary, I was down to 215, a loss of 54 pounds. I was doing 45 minutes to an hour a day on "The Beast" a well as a three-mile walk several days a week. My blood pressure was 117/77 and my wife could hug me without having to get a third person to join hands with her to reach all the way around. I figure I got rid of at least three Charleys.
It was a brutal, lonely, accelerated program that I would only wish upon my fattest enemies. It would have been healthier to spread it out over a year instead of five months, but I wanted to get the old blood pressure down before I exploded.
Reaction to the amazing shrinking columnist has been mixed. Some "friends" seem offended that I took away one of their favorite opportunities for personal insult. Fat people get razzed a lot. Skinny people apparently need fat people to make them feel superior. Some were even kind enough to point out, "You'll put it all back on again."
Will I? I don't know. I'm still losing weight. I don't miss the fries and burgers and pizza. I actually enjoy riding "The Beast" now. I really enjoy this thing called "mobility."
And I'm still losing weight. I figure there's at least one more Charley inside I can get shed of.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
at any book retailer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org