By Kevin Kolodziejski
Make the Pen Mightier Than the Sword, Fork or Sofa — and Ride Better, Too
Imagine meeting a really muscular dude, whose age you guess to be in the mid-30s and weight to be about 250. And how you’d feel when he reveals to you he’s in his mid-40s and weighed up to 550 pounds in his mid-20s. That’s how I felt when I learned all that about a well-known actor.
Except, um . . . at that time that actor was anything but well-known to me.
I’m not much of a moviegoer, you see, so I’ve never seen any of the films (according to a Google search) in which Ethan Suplee has appeared: “Blow,” “Unstoppable,”“American History X,” and “Motherless Brooklyn.” Not even the football classic,“Remember the Titans,” where he’s the unforgettable (so I’ve been told) fat offensive lineman Louie Lastik. I’m not much of a TV viewer either, so I haven’t seen a single episode of the show that (as per his IMDB bio) gave him his start, “Boy Meets World,” where he plays oversized Frankie Stecchino, a bully’s right-hand man who eventually becomes an all-right guy.
The Actor’s Role on Instagram
I’ve only come to know him because Dr. Layne Norton, an expert in nutrition, muscle gain, and fat loss — who’s also won seven bodybuilding and six powerlifting titles and done a world-record squat to boot — mentions Suplee and his Instagram posts when Dr. Andrew Huberman asks him on a Huberman Lab podcast what’s the key to long-term weight loss. Norton says it’s developing a new identity and that Suplee has done just that. As a result, the actor’s about 300 pounds lighter than he was 22 years ago — as well as “jacked.”
Suplee, in fact, has coined a clever phrase to remind himself and others that developing a new identity to help your health is an important and ongoing process. When he posts pictures on Instagram of his now powerful and very muscular body, he often adds the caption, “I killed my clone today.”
What’s It Means to Kill Your Clone?
So Norton asked Suplee exactly what that phrase means. Suplee explained that there’s no way he could lose and keep off the weight if he didn’t, in a manner of speaking, assassinate his old self. So every day Suplee sees the battle as being the same. He must exercise and eat each day in a manner so dramatically different from his 550-pound days that it’s the equivalent to killing his clone.
Now your health situation may not be so extreme as to require metaphorical murder. But in order to get more out of your cycling, you may need to acknowledge the unmotivated twin currently held captive inside you — or the one that’s overly obsessive. And that, in either case, he or she is always looking to escape.
One way to keep that twin incarcerated, my friend, is to keep a journal.
The Journal: A Part-Time Prison Warden
For nearly 40 years, jailhouse journals have allowed me to control my weight like a prison warden presiding over the killers housed at Alcatraz. Yet they are as bare-bones as solitary confinement. In other words, I don’t spend too much of my day being a jailer. My journal entries only list the foods and supplements I consume and when; when I go to bed and wake up; the exercise I do; and an occasional brief, albeit important, note.
A note that, far more often than not, is about my ride that day.
How Journaling Temporarily Jails a Mileage Junkie
Like the one I entered on October 21 about a dead-legged, done-alone, and downright-depressing three-hour ride. One in which I felt so bereft of energy and motivation for just about the entire time that I wrote immediately afterwards: “Is there a reason besides a sense of guilt — or excessive pride — NOT to ride easily for an entire week?” My tendency, you see, is to always do a little bit more, always go a little bit harder.
But I don’t try to quash the tendency totally because of this irony: It’s the biggest reason for the race success I’ve had. Except that success has a shelf life of six, maybe seven weeks. After that, it goes bad and doing a little more, going a little bit harder morphs that strength of mine into a major workout weakness that first creates a niggling plateau and then a noticeable regression.
It’s a weakness I’m loathe to admit — and will only acknowledge, it seems, once I reread old journal entries and see with my eyes what I feel in my legs.
So you may be interested to know that the question I posed to myself on October 21 did indeed lead to a seven-day stretch where I limited myself to four bicycle rides consisting of 10 hours of really easy pedaling. Or you might not. It could very well be that you don’t share my problem of not always knowing when to, or rarely wanting to, limit intensity and mileage.
But the odds are much higher, my friend — the CDC lists them for American adults at seven in 10 — that you’re at less than an optimally healthy body weight. And past studies show journaling to be a great way to engender and maintain weight loss.
Journaling Can Help Your Dieting
In 2008, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a more than 1000-participant, 30-month study performed by Kaiser Permanente on overweight American adults. It found keeping a food dairy doubled weight loss.
In 2017, the Journal of Diabetes research published a study nearly as large but merely 12 months long that found “consistent tracking [of food intake] is a significant predictor of weight loss.” The subjects who did so lost seven pounds more than those who didn’t.
In 2019, Obesity published a relatively small study that revealed the more frequently participants wrote down what they ate, the more weight they lost. The paper surmises “the frequency of self-monitoring is significantly related to weight loss.”
It also mentions that the time needed to journal effectively diminishes. The process that took participants more than 23 minutes at the onset took less than 15 minutes by the study’s conclusion, corroborating my claim that journaling even the old-fashioned way, with paper and pen, is far from a full-time job.
Kevin Kolodziejski began his writing career in earnest in 1989. Since then he’s written a weekly health and fitness column and his articles have appeared in magazines such as “MuscleMag,” “Ironman,” “Vegetarian Times,” and “Bicycle Guide.” He has Bachelor and Masters degrees in English from DeSales and Kutztown Universities.
A competitive cyclist for more than 30 years, Kevin won two Pennsylvania State Time Trial championships in his 30’s, the aptly named Pain Mountain Time Trial 4 out of 5 times in his 40s, two more state TT’s in his 50’s, and the season-long Pennsylvania 40+ BAR championship at 43.