Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Lose Weight (in Japan)

(photos from some the Christmas illuminations in Tokyo)

I will go back to San Francisco for the holidays. It's been over two and a half years since I stepped on American soil. Suffice it to say, I'm a little different.

Maybe my personality has changed. Maybe I now talk as if I'd gotten drunk and took a quick nap with my lips in the snow. Yeah, if I talk to you like you are a 5 year old Japanese child, just remember... I've been talking to 5 year old Japanese children for a while now.

But no, the biggest change is not mental, it's physical. Besides a kick ass goatee and some stunner shades, there's a massive difference.

A 95 pound difference.

I have lost almost 100 pounds, 40 kilograms. I was a hefty guy back in the states, but at 6'4" (192cm) tall, it didn't really show. I think jovial is a good way to describe my look. Other words to describe my look would be stretch marks and giant nipples. Anyways, I came to Japan.

In Japan the pounds just melted off, with no end in sight. Is it ironic that one of my favorite movies is The Machinist?

"Tell me your secret!" cries every Japanese housewife I tell this too. It ain't Billy's Boot Camp or banana diets. It's actually pretty simple.

Step 1 - Diet

Just stop eating refined sugar. That's all I did and I lost about 25 pounds. Depending where you live, you are probably consuming a ton of refined sugar and corn syrup in your diet. You know how much sugar is in a Starbucks Frappucino? Neither do I, but stop buying those.

This is the only diet change I recommend. Most diets require additions or replacements. Replace all carbohydrates with more protein. Add some crazy shake that you have to buy mail order. Replace meat with this traditional African grain that has been used by natives for 2000 years. Add a couple mystery pills to your daily routine.

Subtraction of something you don't really need is easier than addition of something you aren't accustomed to. After a month of no sugar, I didn't even want it anymore. The occasional taste was nasty. 3 years later and I'm still pretty sparse with that stuff.

Step 2 - Exercise

You need to exercise about an hour a day. But actually this is impossible, because you are lazy. You could join a gym, and maybe you would go for a week. But then you'd never go again... ever. No one actually ever goes to the gym. The only time I actually heard of someone going to a gym was on the internet. And the internet is full of liars. I was about to expose this farce by infiltrating a gym in Japan. But they thwarted me by having a "No Tattoos" policy in their membership agreement.

So what to do? Get a job that requires you to ride a bicycle to work about 30 minutes each way. Then wake up late every day and you will be forced to ride at a heart exploding speed every morning. You will burn / sweat / vomit away the pounds.

Step 3 - Stress

I can't stress this enough, you need to remove stress from your life. If your job is stressful, change it. If your girlfriend gives you grief, get out. If your hobby is playing video games that you can never win, fucking quit it.

I went from staring at a computer screen for 10 hours a day at work to a job where I interact with children all day. My hobbies went from sitting in front of a computer playing video games to... well... sitting in front of a computer writing lame articles about losing weight I guess.

I could write a lot more about being happy at all times in life, but I'm actually very serious about that part of my life, and don't want to subject it to the sarcasm that is all over the place here. If you really want to know about meditation, neuro linguistic programming, and living in the moment, you can email me.

Step 4 - No Prescription Medication

If you are an American, you are probably over medicated. If you are lucky enough to have health insurance, it's like "Sweet, I need to get the most out of this before I lose it. Ride the gravy train all the way to healthsville! Hey doc, sometimes I can't sleep, but sometimes I get too tired. You have some pills for that?" Seriously, my doctor at the big HMO told me, "You might sleep better if you don't drink 4 espressos ,play 6 hours of XBox when you get home, and then go to Taco Bell at 1am every day... but I have these 3 pills you can take instead!"

Of course, if you need some medication to survive, like insulin, you should take it.

But honestly, is anyone really going to follow my advice?

I mean, I tell everyone about the no sugar thing, but do they listen? Never. A Japanese housewife wants cake like a fat kid wants... cake. Have you noticed that every street near every station has at least 3 hairstylists and 3 cake shops?

Has your weight changed in Japan? Most people tend to lose a bit when they are over here. Some other, only in Japan, reasons might be
  • Summer is like being in a god damn jungle on the hottest day of the year, wearing a down jacket, next to a volcano. It's hot and it sucks.
  • The toilets have a special button that gives you an enema with hot water. Sparkling is a good adjective to describe my level of cleanliness.
  • The only bread is this horrid Wonder Bread type stuff at the supermarkets. And it always comes in packs with 5 or 7 slices. Turkey is non-existent in Japan. And cheese is hella expensive. You guessed it, I haven't had a real sandwich in years.
Yeah... 95 pounds.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the weight loss! I have a few fitness goals I would like to pursue next year. I will be ecstatic if I can follow through with two-thirds of them.

Ivor Biggun said...

I'm slowly putting it on, due mostly to mankind's blessing/curse, beer.
Damn, that stuff loves me and hates me at the same time!
Gotta get running again or at least use a heavier glass.

Anonymous said...

Hey well done!

I have gained a bit of weight in Japan coz everything has additives and sugar/sweetner in! how did you go so sugar free in Japan?

what did you eat? even the bread has sugar in which is crazy!


Ramen Adventures said...

Sugar, but not high fructose corn syrup. But basically I just cut anything that would fall in the "sweets" category of a food chart. Bread is fine, but there is a lot less of it here than in the States so I didn't eat much.

Clare said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

thanks for your reply

so basically just no sweets/chocolate ?
have you found brown rice at all in Japan? I'm also a bit sick of eating white bread/rice!


Ramen Adventures said...

Yeah, no sweets or chocolate. You can buy all that non-white grain on the internet

Emilie said...

Good work!
I was a major gym bunny clean eating psycho at home, and after 4 months of traveling Southeast Asia and living off the french inspired pastry and deep fried sticky rice Im not looking so crash hot. Im headed to Japan in a few days, hoping to turn things around there! Thanks for the inspiration!!

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