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...

First off, remember that there are going to be "haters". People that want you to fail, or try to tell you that improving yourself, or trying to make drastic changes in yourself is selfish. Well you know what, they are right. You have to be selfish, and you have to think of yourself as the most important person, especially if you have a family who wants you to stick around for a while. I'm sure if you ask your spouse or your kids if it would be OK for you to take 2 hours out of your day to exercise and get healthy, then I'm sure you won't run into much resistance, if any. Put yourself first now and everybody will benefit later. I want to see my kids have kids. I want to travel the world with my wife, and I want to enjoy my retirement. Think about it for a second: We all know somebody in our life that couldn't do these things, my father included. How was their health? How was their fitness?

We aren't speaking about other unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking. Right now let's concentrate on just getting started. I think back to that riddle; "How do you eat an elephant?" One bite at a time. Now let's get to work. This is going to be quick and easy to understand. This whole process starts with you. Look into the mirror, and talk to that person looking back. Tell yourself that you've been unhealthy long enough. Tell yourself that you want to live. Tell yourself that you want to feel good, to look good, to be healthy. I'm not going to cover every bit of what we learned and how we trained, but I want to cover some basics.

Start by seeing your doctor. Whether you have to lose 15 pounds or 215 pounds, it's still important to start with your doctor. Find out exactly what your health issues are and whether or not you are healthy enough to exercise at all. Have your doctor suggest a diet and exercise program, and monitor your progress. Your doctor can give you a physical and advise you of your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc. Then have your doctor give you the necessary referrals to a psychologist and a nutritionist. These specialists are usually covered by your health insurance. It's very important to see the psychologist to discuss what your underlying issues are; why are you in the physical condition that you are in? How does one get to be 350 pounds, when as reasonable and intelligent adults, we know that it's not healthy? The nutritionist will help you learn what foods are good, and why.

Next is to find out what your resting metabolic rate is (RMR). The RMR tells you how many calories you are burning every day, not including how many you burn during exercise. You can search online for an RMR calculator, punch in some of your measurements and height and age to get an approximate number, but your doctor can prescribe tests so you can find out the actual number. Once you know how many calories your body is burning every day, you have to keep your calorie intake less than what you're burning.

At the Biggest Loser Ranch we ate in calories approximately 20-percent less than our RMR. In my case I ate 2,000 calories a day from the time that I was 361 pounds, all the way until I weighed approximately 220 pounds when I dropped my calories to 1,800. This is the calorie count I try to maintain still today.

We divided our calorie total up into five meals, and immediately started keeping track on a food journal where everything you eat or drink is recorded (including condiments like ketchup, and little extras like milk in your coffee). I split my calories into five small meals, each containing about 400 calories, and I ate every 3 hours. If I was headed to work for a 12-hour tour, then I would have to do some prep work, because those of you who are police officers or firefighters know that you never know what's going to happen or where you will be every night. For this reason, I brought all my food with me in the patrol car. My goal was to eat as much low calorie food as I could, to fill me up.

Now this takes a little research, and some planning, but here's an example of what I mean: Egg whites. Egg whites have only 15 calories per egg, so you can have 8 egg whites rather than 2 eggs. (The yolks have 65 calories each). Put 8 egg whites on two pieces of "lite" whole wheat bread which are about 60 calories a slice, and there you have a pretty big meal. Combine this with a cup of coffee, and ½ cup of fruit salad, and you have a 350 calorie meal which will fill up just about anybody. You can even butter the toast, but try to use a product like "I can't believe it's not butter" in the spray form, because it has very little fat and calories, as compared to the same product in the tub, which is full of fat emulsifiers which keep it solid in the tub.

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