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The word chubster—while universally accepted as a delightful that it has to have some meaning — is fairly amorphous. Actually, UrbanDictionary.com, the definitive source of information on made-up words, offers quite a few definitions,
two variants of which are interesting to us:
An overweight person who considers himself to be a hipster.
Someone who is proud to be a fatty mcfatfat . . . They
wear Old Navy jeans because they can’t fit into anything
from Urban Outfitters or from trendy thrift shops. They
try to squeeze themselves into small hoodies and H&M
T-shirts because slim fitting clothes look “dope” on them.
They avoid being an outcast loser because they are seen as
cool and desirable due to a magnetic personality and funny
jokes that compensate for their perceived lack of physical
Celebrity examples of Chubsters: Jonah Hill, Zach Galifianakis,
Fawn: Ugh! Look at that chick with the muffin top and those
Charlotte Russe flats.
Ruby: . . . and you know she got that Run DMC T-shirt from
Fawn: Oh em eff jeez, she’s such a chubster.
Someone who used to be chubby when they were a kid,
but became very in-shape, muscular, and attractive. It’s
almost like being a chubster is a compliment, because most
of them are very nice, they know what it’s like to be the fat
kid who’s everyone’s friend, no more (girls didn’t think of
him that way), so most chubsters don’t judge. He’s the guy
who everyone likes, but how could you not like a chubster?
Funny, nice, and able to relate to almost everyone? They’re
one of a kind.
Bob: Dude, this new kid came to our class, he showed us his yearbook and he was like majorly chubby two years ago.
Sally: But not anymore. That new kid’s cute, that chubster.
For much of my life, I’ve been a Chubster1. Certainly, I
was not seriously ashamed of my weight, and I was kindasorta proud of my indulgence. At the same time, I was always trying to fit in with my usually-skinny hipster friends — not always easy for a big guy. Now I’m working on becoming a
Chubster2: the cool, formerly fat guy. Actually, in calling this book Chubster, I’m hoping to carve that definition into a metaphorical stone tablet. Not that I’m always a nice guy — as you’ll undoubtedly see throughout the book, I’ve never been the sweet and beloved tuba-playing fat kid — but I’m trying.
I’m trying, folks. In the meantime, I’m doing what I’ve always done, which is keep it real. That means giving you some cold,
hard, and unpleasant facts. I’m going to do that in the nicest and most efficient way possible because I’ve been in your shoes. I’m now an average weight, but luckily I still have some of that renowned empathy that makes fat people beloved the world over.
The fact of the matter is, there’s nothing wrong with being fat. Or, at least there’s nothing wrong with you because you’re fat. That’s the truth, and anyone who tells you differently is an asshole. Sure, I lost 100 pounds in eight months for the express purpose of not being fat (I’m 5'11"
and weighed 290 when I started). Still, I don’t see anything wrong with being overweight, per se. It’s not a character flaw. Being fat is pretty fun, actually. I had a great run. I ate creamy, fried, and sickeningly sweet foods so delicious, most of my thin friends could never imagine consuming them. I
imbibed mass quantities of the world’s most delicious beers without a second thought — never did anything less caloric than Blue Moon touch my lips. I sat around playing video games, watching football, and listening to records on lazy
Sundays. Despite my girth, I had no trouble getting a little action from attractive girls (my girlfriend is 5'10", a size 6,
and gorgeous), which is the major impediment faced by the overweight among us.
Honestly, it was great. Sure, I was a little ashamed at the pool, but not enough to change anything. And there was that one time I could not fit inside a roller coaster. Only the Insane Clown Posse seemed to sell concert T-shirts that fit me. And I hurriedly untagged almost every photo of me posted on Facebook. But that was my life and I was enjoying it.
But “happily fat” is not a sustainable lifestyle. Facing my twenty-ninth birthday, I had to accept that. It was a cherry Slurpee and my girlfriend, Kirsten, which made me see this. It’s sort of a weird story, actually. We were headed home from a Dave Matthews Band concert — part of my job is to go to such concerts and explain to the primitive hordes why they suck — when I stopped for a refreshing, sugary beverage to quench my thirst and propel me through the late-night writing process required to meet my 9 a.m. deadline.
I got the largest size and sucked down the whole thing without a second thought. Kirsten, a nurse who works with liver patients, some of the least-well humans on earth, was horrified. We’d talked about my weight before, but never very seriously.
I could tell immediately this conversation was going to be different.
“DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES YOU JUST
DRANK?” she asked. I guessed around 300 — it’s mostly ice,
right? When we looked it up (a ritual I would become all too familiar with in the coming months), it was more like 600.
Some 600 calories for a bedtime snack! It was a lot, but still,
I didn’t see the big deal. Maybe a Slurpee was a bad choice, I
said, but I need to drink something to write. How am I supposed to write with a dry mouth and tired eyes? Diet Coke,
she suggested. Ick, I said. No, she said, this is serious.
The health thing, obviously, was a big concern. But the probable consequences — to be outlined shortly — also felt far into the future. There was a more pressing issue: In a few months, I would be meeting her health-nut parents for the first time in New Zealand. Kirsten’s dad is a college professor who studies pharmaceuticals, and her mom knows everyone in her town’s co-op grocery store by name and does nearly as much yoga as Gandhi — in other words, they’ve been granola since before it was cool. I knew Kirsten was right. There was little chance I could plan to be indefinitely overweight and keep that little pink heart on my Facebook relationship status intact. For me, it wasn’t so much an ultimatum as a realization.
And thus began the transformation. A hundred pounds. A
snug 44 to a loose 34. A loose 3XL to a snug M. Some people might prefer I say I dropped the weight with the help of
Whole Foods, reusable BPA-free water bottles, and an elliptical,
but the truth is, I didn’t. I changed my habits so little that I might think it was pathetic — a sign that I’m pitifully stuck in my ways — if it weren’t for how inspiring the story seems to be to other people.
If you’re already supermotivated to lose weight, perhaps you should skip ahead to the first chapter now. This plan will work, I promise you that. If you’re planning to lose weight and were drawn to a book like this in the store, that’s really all you need to know to get started. But if you’re a little unsure about things, read on. This is my attempt at giving you the Nudge. The best way I can think to do that is by telling you about my Nudge, which came from YouTube.
The day after the Slurpee Incident, Kirsten sat me down to watch a YouTube video wherein a medical professor gives a lecture about the various maladies caused by obesity. I
don’t want to ruin the end of the movie, which you can find at ChubsterTheBook.com, but (SPOILER ALERT) the fat guy dies. Just kidding. He mostly just suffers. Among the terrible health consequences outlined were:
• high blood pressure
• high cholesterol
• sleep apnea
• premature death
Though I’m sure some people will disagree, for me, death was the least scary item on that list. The scariest? Diabetes.
My dad has diabetes. It was diet-controlled for years,
but he’s now on insulin, which means needles are involved.
Eek. My paternal grandmother had diabetes — she had a leg amputated before her death, which came when I was only a toddler. Double eek.
Sleep apnea was a little scary too, since one of my relatives sometimes sleeps hooked up to some kind of iron lung prescribed after a sleep study confirmed he suffered from the condition.
And, come to think of it, heart disease was a little worrying,
since half my antecedents keeled over from massive coronary failure, including my rail-thin and very frugal grandfather, who had a heart attack after a handyman presented him with an unexpectedly large bill for a new water heater.
Actually, cancer too, since my mom has metastasized breast cancer, as did her older sister, who recently passed away. Scary.
Arthritis brought on by the strain your joints endure as they propel your extra heft around? Not so scary. I mean, if you’re seriously obese, you probably won’t live long enough to make your odds dramatically worse than what heredity hands you. And with my genes, why worry, right? Given all the other grim health consequences I was facing, knee problems later in life seemed pretty trivial.
“I love you, baby, and I want you to be around,” Kirsten said.
“I don’t want to give you insulin injections when you inevitably become a bloated diabetic” is what I heard her say.
I took a deep breath and committed myself to losing weight, just as you must. Then I sat down to figure out the other really challenging part — the plan by which I could accomplish it. You don’t have to do that, obviously, since I did it for you and wrote a whole book about it. (In addition to this book’s advice, you may also want to seek out that of a doctor.)
When and how did I come up with the plan? Well, I came up with it immediately after agreeing to lose the weight. And
I did it because I could not find an acceptable alternative.
The conversation went something like this:
“So, what are you going to do to lose the weight?” Kirsten asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I think you need to join some sort of program so you’ll be accountable and so you have some structure.”
“Ugh. No way. That just sounds awful. I’ll do it. I know I can hold myself accountable — and that you’ll hold me accountable,
anyway — and I’m not joining some stupid group. That sounds expensive and lame. Paying money to hang out with a club of fat strangers in sweatpants debating whether Chunky
Monkey or Cherry Garcia is more tempting? No thanks!”
“Well, I think you should join a group for support. And some sort of gym.”
“I’m definitely not going to the gym. I don’t have the money and I would definitely hate it — it’s just a bunch of spray-tanned douchebags. Do I look like I want to hang out on the Jersey Shore?”
“Well, you need to do something. You can’t just do this on your own; it won’t work,” she said.
“Look, I’m open to doing something, just so long as it’s, you know, cool,” I said. “I don’t want to feel pathetic — people who pay to join stupid groups to solve their problems are pathetic.
I want to do this my own way. Some way that’s pretty chill,
“There’s no cool way to lose weight.”
“Ummm. There’s gotta be.”
Here’s my guarantee: This plan will be effective and you will not feel like a loser doing it. It won’t always be easy, but it’s not that hard, either — and it’s a lot easier than submitting to the horrors of Organized Dieting. The Chubster plan is not only the Least Awful Diet Plan of All Time, it’s the only plan for those who consider themselves cool.