Thursday, February 13, 2014

From Chunk to Hunk

From Chunk to Hunk: Diary of a Fat Man
© 2003 Fred Anderson
242 pages

Fred Anderson had an epiphany while munching on snack cakes and watching TV; as he witnessed the amputation of a diabetic man's leg, he realized: this is my future.  Horrified at the thought of losing mobility, and frustrated by not being able to play with his daughter, Fred began watching what he ate and exercising daily. Two years later, he was down over a hundred and fifty pounds. From Chunk to Hunk is his record of that time, a journal doubling as a fitness coach to readers. Its focus is mental;  Anderson makes no dietary claims beyond Pollanesque observations that if a foodstuff needs a tv commercial, it's probably no good for you; instead, he preaches throughout on attitude adjustments, on how to form new habits, how to change attitudes towards food and exercise, and so on. In this two-year account, Anderson not only sheds a man's weight worth of fat, his health-focused lifestyle frees him from diabetic treatment. He doesn't forth a dietary or exercise regimen, maintaining that people are sensible enough to recognize "real" -- healthy -- food. The challenge is consistency, both in eating well and exercising. Anderson begins by treading water,  but shifts to daily intensive walks and adds in weight lifting, eventually alternating running days with weight-lifting and cycling days. Persistence is his motto: it doesn't matter if he makes the odd mistake, he exercises every single day, aside from a once-weekly rest day, and eats well the overwhelming majority of the time.  He isn't a puritan about coveting or abhorring one element or another;  he instead makes his ally Time, by simply making the same good choices every day.  Aristotle observed that our character is the sum of our actions; excellence is achieved by habit.   Anderson's candor, and the absence of a program being sold, make this a refreshing weight-loss account, one that doesn't pretend to nutritional wisdom. It's a bit on the preachy side -- despite not being religious, Anderson often quotes from the Bible and uses the same communicative tropes as some folksy preachers --  but this is forgivable, as is the sometimes too personal details he includes sporadically. I read this primarily to see how his journey paralleled my own -- both of us, in the twilight of our twenties, had a wake-up call and lost over a hundred pounds, with no magic except daily, vigorous exercise and moderate eating of natural foods.   I haven't embraced weight-lifting or running as enthusiastically as he have, but I very well may..


  1. It's all very simple when you think about it. No fancy diets or anything like that are needed. It's a simple equation...

    If calories going out are less than those coming in then you'll gain weight. If those going out exceed those coming in than you'll lose weight. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.

  2. I'm not so sure; I had weeks where my weight loss couldn't be linked to eating or diet, because I lost more despite eating and exercising the same amounts, or lost less despite the same...there are more variables at play, I think. I'd like to test the insulin argument (insulin is responsible for maintaining fat cells, so minimize food that stimulates it and voila, fat is turned into energy instead of a savings account), but I like milk and fruit too much. That's the low carb/Atkins/paleo/Weston Price side.

  3. I suppose if it was *that* easy we'd all be as thin as we wanted to be! [grin]


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