I believe in the power of the Abs Diet because I’ve seen it work. And I’ve seen the principles work, not just in my professional life, but in my personal life as well. See, just like most Americans, I, too, have struggled with my weight for years. As a latchkey kid growing up in the early ‘80s, I was often left to fend for myself nutritionally. Like most kids, my favorite food group was “beige”— macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, and pasta with butter sauce—and I preferred Donkey Kong and the Super Mario Brothers to bikes, balls, and playgrounds.
My weight climbed in lockstep with my daily calorie intake and my video game totals, until by age 14 I was hoisting a heifer-like 212 pounds out of bed every morning. And my weight issues only got worse as I got older: I learned how to drive, which meant that I learned how to drive through. The inherent problem with fast foods is, well, it’s fast. When you eat quickly—and I did—the satiety signals your body sends out may register too late, so you consume more calories— and I did—than you would if you ate at a slower pace. With driving, junk food got
(The only athletics I got recruited for was the high school wrestling team, where the coach would send me out during tight matches to literally sit on the opposing wrestler in hopes of gaining a draw.) I felt hopeless. But sometimes, no matter how rough you have it, you realize that others have it rougher. And one person who had it much rougher than me was my father.
My dad was more than 100 pounds overweight for most of his adult life. Over time, he developed hypertension and diabetes, suffered from heart trouble, and would have to stop at the top of a short flight of stairs just to catch his breath. I remember being with him at times, waiting for him to catch his breath, wondering, “Is that what my future will look like?” A massive stroke ended his life at 52. But my father gave me one gift I’ll never be able to repay him for, Through his suffering, he showed me what I didn’t want to become. Somehow, I had to find a way to turn back the tide of torpid tallow that was surrounding me. And I got lucky.
When I graduated from high school, I joined the Naval Reserve, where the tenets of fitness were gently presented to me in a nurturing, supportive, and convivial atmosphere. (Kidding. They saw a chunky kid from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and put him through the wringer, mentally and emotionally. It was the boot camp from hell, but I needed it—and the Navy beat the weight right off me in basic training.) But just because you can lose weight—especially in an exercise intensive setting like basic training—doesn’t mean you can keep it off when you get older. (Just look at any of those formerly fit NFL players doing play-by-play duty on Sunday afternoon. When forced workouts cease, but the unhealthy eating doesn’t, you will gain weight.) What got me truly fit—and what has kept me lean into my early 40s—has been the research I’ve done as editor-in-chief of Men’s Health. And that research has led to the nutritional plan that you’ll find laid out in these pages.