The Moving Diet

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Weekend Edition essayist Tim Brookes embarks on a new diet: losing weight by moving from one house to another.

TIM BROOKES: In June, I discovered to my horror I weighed 215 pounds, the most I've ever weighed.


WEEKEND EDITION essayist Tim Brookes.

BROOKES: In desperation, I undertook the most brutal weight loss program ever designed: moving house. I thought of it as a guy diet. I lugged furniture and heavy boxes up and down stairs in 95 degree heat, gave up junk food and drank mostly water. It was bound to work. The only question was whether I would lose 10 pounds before my knees gave out.

To help me toward my goal, my wife bought a digital scale endorsed by a well-known weight loss organization. Tap here, it said. Wait for the screen to read 00.0. Step on. I despised it. The snotty little decimal tried to convince me that even tenths of a pound counted. No wonder dieters get obsessed with number, tracking individual grams and calories like stockbrokers watching every tremor in the DOW.

I was fast becoming addicted to these fractions when, luckily, I found out that the official scale was wildly inaccurate. After no more than a couple of days of eating less and packing boxes all day, I weighed myself. The scale read 192.6 pounds, more than 20 pounds lost already. I rubbed my eyes and tried again. A hundred and ninety-eight point eight pounds. What! Had I just gained back six pounds in 30 seconds? I tried again, 209.2 pounds. I hurriedly pushed the scale under the sink. At this rate, by the end of the week, I would weigh a ton.

Meanwhile, a larger scale exercise in weight loss was going on. I filled a trailer with 10 years' worth of accumulated debris and drove it to the weigh in station at the dump. They weighed me going in. I hurled the debris off the trailer. They weighed me going out. I had lost over a thousand pounds. My abs began to reappear. By the time we moved, I had a visible two-pack and was working on a four-pack.

You're looking skinny, my wife said approvingly. My back was killing me.

I began coaching middle school soccer, limping to the field and hoping the girls wouldn't challenge me to run with them. I was down to 202.8 pounds, or 203.6, or 205, depending on the scale's mood. Bit by bit my back and knees recovered. By early September I had reached my goal. I had lost 10 pounds without compromising my masculinity.

I now know I can lose weight if I want to, but I feel as if I dodged a bullet. I can see how easy it would be to fall into the addictions and second-guessings of the diet game. So for those of you caught in that trap, here's my advice: chuck out the scale and take up soccer. The coach may make you run laps and do sit-ups, but you'll lose weight, even with pizza after practice.

HANSEN: Tim Brookes is the director of the writing program at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

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