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Editor's Notebook: How I Lost 29 Lbs. in 10 Days ... And Rediscovered Myself

New Year's resolution of Juice Reboot yields gratifying results

One year, I abandoned a New Year's resolution in 13 minutes. True story. So my track record with resolutions, glass being half-full, was suspect entering 2012. But this time, this year, needed to be different.

And it was.

As a writer, I ask and expect full disclosure from my interview subjects. In that vein, here is why I started a 10-day Juice Reboot based off the movie “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead” on Jan. 3: I loathed everything about how I looked, how I felt, who I became. At 228 pounds, I neared my all-time high in weight (topped only by a 2007 beer/fried food/pizza binge after my dad died of diabetic complications that ballooned me to 233 pounds) and needed to rescue myself from myself.

With a mix of surprising support and expected skepticism, I went 10 days while only drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice; I said I would do 15 days, but I would have needed an entire new wardrobe.

Most importantly, I found a version of myself I really like again: I am down 29 pounds, down to 199 pounds – my first time below 200 pounds in at least a decade!

I decided to blog about this for myself, but several friends and colleagues who helped inspire me encouraged my to share my 10-day journey. So here is the timeline of how I discovered – and surprised – myself through drinking five 20-ounce glasses of juice daily.

Day 1: It Begins

Before today, every morning when I checked myself in the mirror after showering I felt ashamed. The double chin, the turkey neck, the gut that meant never tucking in a shirt – for someone who meticulously thinks out what I say, how each sentence I write flows into the next … how the hell did I let this happen?!? Especially when I watched how my father suffered over his final days?

Today, I avoided wallowing. I got out of the shower, got dressed (shirt untucked) and bounded down my stairs at 8:30 a.m. I pulled out the juicer my friend Sue lent me, grabbed one of containers of the apple/beet/carrot/kale combination I prepared the night before, dropped them in the juicer and waited for the first of five 20-ounce glasses I would drink each day during my rediscovery to blend from chunks and leaves into something substantive.

Honestly, the first batch … well, you shouldn't chew your juice! It was thick and pulpy, but I powered through the first two glasses on sheer will before driving to Target to buy the Juiceman juicer that got me through the next nine-plus days.

By day's end, I started feeling a foreign surge of energy. Perhaps I was onto something.

Day 2: The Dull Headache

This past summer when I interviewed Joe Cross – the subject of “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead” who lost more than 90 pounds and inspired my mission – he told me that usually on the second or third day, people who juice start feeling sick. That is just the toxins leaving the body. When I awoke, I did so with a dull, hangover-ish headache that stuck with me as I wrote throughout the late morning and early afternoon.

After a trip to my local farmer's market, an every-other-day ritual I began to enjoy, I covered Marine Sgt. Joe Longo III's welcome-home event at Belleville's Knights of Columbus. In typical Italian fashion, everyone kept offering food. Belleville Councilmen Vincent Cozzarelli and Steve Rovell offered me beer – my eternal weakness – but I declined and mentioned my diet. Cozzarelli read it on the Belleville Patch, scoffed a little, then asked me how it was going.

Even two days earlier, I would have grabbed the pitcher. But I felt emboldened by this challenge of sorts – someone questioning my will – and instead of succumbing, I became headstrong. I left minutes later, drove home and poured myself a tall glass of apple/beet/carrot/kale and wrote one of my best Patch stories ever about Longo's return.

Day 3 and 4: Finding My Rhythm

I woke up feeling rested and energized and headache free. My belly shrunk ever so slightly. I traded off glasses of apple/beet/carrot/kale with a new concoction of green apples, kale, spinach, pears, lemons and ginger. I especially enjoyed the last two.

Most importantly, I felt none of the pangs of hunger I felt on my previous diet of Buffalo wings, sandwiches, fast-food drive-thrus and pizza. Best of all, at the end of Day 4, I had lost 10 pounds!

Day 5: The Aliens Have Landed

After catching up on errands and reading, I left the farmer's market $44 lighter – which proved enough for the next five days of juicing. Problem was, my stomach started rumbling. Quietly at first, then unbearably loud. A prolonged visit with the Ty-D-Bowl Man later, I am pretty sure I flushed away every toxin that I ever ingested in 37-plus years.

Best of all, I enjoyed my best night of sleep in months – nine hours straight, rising out of bed instead of laying there and cursing my clock. Which leads me to ...

Day 6: Weighing In and Walking

I grabbed my scale from my hallway closet, took it into the bathroom and hopped aboard. I nearly did a dance after climbing off: Down 16 pounds! I almost felt too energized afterward, so I did some deep breaths before deciding that, after a few glasses of a new juice creation (blood oranges, oranges, pink grapefruits, carrots and strawberries) I would layer up and go for a nice, long walk.

My house sits a top a hill, which then descends into a really steep hill before sloping toward the park in my town where there is a track. The walk there is about three-quarters of a mile. I did six laps around the track, even running two of them, before walking back up the slope and hills home. I wish I could always feel as good as I did that day.

Day 7: Pleasantly Surprised

When most people look at, or think of, me, I am reasonably sure these are their quick-and-dirty assessments: talented writer, nice enough guy, doesn't smile much. And before today, the stares toward my midsection added an unspoken fourth: Dude, you're fat.

My regional editor Liz Moore hosted a video-training session for us this morning. I walked in with my giant jug of juice while everyone else ate bagels and turkey bacon. Strangely, I did not feel even a pang of temptation to join my colleagues and friends.

Over the next hour-plus, I noticed two things. I got the up-down without anyone's eyes settling on my stomach. And people told me I looked good; Liz even said “svelte,” which I am pretty sure no one ever called me even in jest.

Day 8: The Picture

Someone told me I looked really angry in my previous headshot, the one of me in a black t-shirt looking like I was a death-metal band's lead singer. I used it here, on Facebook and elsewhere for this reason: After my father passed, I lost a bunch of weight and actually felt some pride in my appearance, having lost 33 pounds to get down to 200 before letting myself go.

At a staff meeting at Montclair editor Shelley Emling's house, people kept asking me about the diet and almost marveling at my transformation. Emboldened, I asked Bloomfield editor and talented photographer Linda Federico-O'Murchu to take my picture – the first I let someone take since Jan. 2011.

When Linda e-mailed me the pics, I froze at first. Then it hit me: I was really accomplishing something. I was smiling a bit, but best of all, I looked trim.

For the first time in months, I changed my Facebook photo.

Day 9: No More Pants Problems

After a few years of holding my breath while buttoning my pants, for the first time I slid them on, zippered and buttoned without having to suck in my stomach. I started getting more compliments than I ever would have expected from close friends and those I became reacquainted with through social media, telling me I looked great. I felt great!

Day 10: The End

Down 24 pounds at the day's outset, I decided to stop my proposed 15-day Juice Reboot five days early for this simple reason: I cannot afford an entirely new wardrobe. So I went through one final day of five, 20-ounce glasses of my favorite concoction – apples, carrots, celery, ginger, pears and Swiss chard – before covering an evening meeting and waiting to weigh myself for a final tally.

The Aftermath

I officially lost 29 pounds, getting myself down to 199 – my first time below 200 pounds in a long, long time. I stopped to reflect on the past 10 days before looking in the mirror. I really did like what I saw, but not just in terms of weight loss. Instead of making excuses or waiting for change, I made this happen.

Since then, I admit that I have eaten pizza and drank a glass of beer – life is still for living, after all. However, I am still drinking two glasses of juice per day and eating brown rice with grilled or steam veggies because this is my new life.

Meanwhile, a dozen friends and acquaintances have asked me about this. And a few have even started their own reboots because they see how it transformed me. Although not as noble as community service, I am proud to help pay it forward in my own small way.

I will never let myself revert to the me I loathed. No chance. Not after finally finding the me I have been missing.

Ambie March 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
I am a 28 year old woman... Do you think this could work for me. I have only had one child and I weigh 196 pounds.... OMG!!!! Please help!!!
Beverly Meaux June 02, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Brian, it's been a few months, how are you doing?
Jack Cullen December 09, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Lol he stopped replying! He sooo regained it all. It's what happens when you lose weight too fast by drinking or taking things like vitamin pills... In his case it was drinks.
Mel April 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Well, how's it going now??
AP May 30, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Found Brian on Twitter. Didn't find any mention of current weight but he's running long distances, posting about things he's grateful for and sounding energetic and happy with several mentions of making and enjoying healthy food. So I call it a win for Brian. Maybe he just got a new job and that's why he stopped updating this?

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