The bulge & the badge

0230 hours: I walked northbound on North Main Street in Freeport, N.Y., with a black hooded sweatshirt over my head, my tan Timbs, a black ski mask, and a Marlboro Light cigarette in my hand, which was more than just a prop. I wore an earphone leading...

Another thing that a lot of you will relate to: I do everything pretty well in my life. I'm a pretty good golfer and a pretty good bowler. I play a lot of pool, and racquetball, and hike and camp with my scouts. I would exercise, hitting the weights but was actually annoyed by all the fit people who would spend all day on the treadmill. After all, if I was fit like that, then I'd be on that treadmill too. After all, when I started on the "Biggest Loser," my bench press was close to 400 pounds. But wait a minute; I weighed 361 pounds. 361! Holy crap! What the hell is wrong with you Jim? How do you go from a 210-pound college lacrosse player, to a 361-pound walking time bomb?

Sound familiar? We all know what I'm about to say: If I was the one on that damn treadmill, then I'd be the fit guy that all the fat weightlifter guys hated. Right?

Really? Really.

It was a Tuesday night and "The Biggest Loser" was on, and I sat on my couch with a bag of chips and some soda, and thought to myself how lucky these people were, to have gotten on that show where they could enjoy a controlled environment, where someone is telling them exactly what to eat, how and when to train, and when to sleep. I thought to myself that if I could just get myself on a program for six solid months, train and diet every day, that I could get my health and fitness back. Little did I know that it was much easier than all that, and that it's possible for anyone. All it takes is just a little research, a little planning and a lot of sweat. Believe me when I tell you that if I could do it — and I did, maintaining a XX-pound weight loss X years later — then anybody can.

So that's how I found myself out to the Biggest Loser Ranch. I had no phone, no TV, no computer, no kids and no work. And yes, I had Jillian Michaels beating me up every day. (And yes, she is definitely as hot in person as she is on TV. Yes girls, so is Bob.)

I want to remind all of you that although it's true that my brother Bill stayed on the ranch for 17 weeks and became a finalist, subsequently winning the title of "The Biggest Loser," that I was eliminated from the ranch after only five weeks but still managed to become the At-Home Champion, losing 186 pounds and 51.5 percent of my body weight in eight months.

Of this weight, I managed to lose 133 pounds if it in six months while at home, while I was working 12-hour night shifts with the Freeport Police Department. I was no longer a plain clothes cop, losing that opportunity to my weight and declining health. My supervisors felt that I was becoming a liability to the team and asked me to return to patrol.

How did I lose weight while working a regular schedule, still coaching the kids, cleaning the pool, and  cutting the grass? I'll tell you how: "I planned my work, and I worked my plan." (Credit Margaret Thatcher for the quote). I busted my ass and I was well prepared. I never realized how unprepared I was before. Now that I've accomplished my fitness goals, I realize what gave me the ability to prepare myself was a simple re-education. And I'm going to tell you how you can become re-educated too.

In the last two years, I've traveled around the country with my brother, making appearances to talk about our experiences and health and wellness in general. Our company name is Weight Loss Twins LLC, and our team motto is "No More Excuses." We have vowed to pay it forward by sharing our re-education and experiences, but it's also nice to be able to pay a few bills at the same time. After all, health and wellness is a $10 billion a year business in this country , and if we can make a business out of making other people happy, fit and healthy, then who's got it better than me, right?

That being said, when we are out across the country, the questions and comments are always the same. "If I was on the ranch I could do it too;" "I've tried everything;" "I have no time to workout;" "I'm too big to exercise;" "I can't do it without a trainer;""I need your help;" "I'm going to get gastric bypass surgery;"and many, many more excuses. I have just a few things to say that will dispel all these "excuses."

Weight loss is nothing more than simple math. The same way 2+2=4 and always will, weight loss is as easy as burning more calories than you consume. That's it. Of course there are other things involved too, but it all comes back to what you put in your mouth. There are food journals, and cardio training. Nutritionists and psychologists. There are doctors and blood tests. There's organic vs. non-organic. There's personal trainers and terminology such as "resting metabolic rate." We remind people that we are not personal trainers, nor are we weight loss professionals, but we are weight loss champs. Just look at the numbers. Bill and I managed to shed 350 pounds combined in 32 weeks (8 months), but before hitting the gym or grilling the chicken, there were a few steps we had to take that all of you should take, too.

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