Martin Cizmar lost 100 pounds in less than a year, and all he had to do was give up Slurpees.
Well, he also biked to work occasionally. And quit drinking full-calorie beer. What he didn't do was try the Paleo Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Cookie Diet or Jenny Craig. He didn't join a gym, and he didn't shell out for expensive pre-calorie-counted meals. Instead he just … ate less. And it worked. He chronicles the results in his new book Chubster: A Hipster's Guide to Losing Weight , a food guide with a practical side.
“It seems to me that the thing people who are overweight have in common is a reliance on convenience foods,” Cizmar said by phone from Portland, Ore., where he works as Arts & Culture editor of the Willamette Week (he was previously music editor of Phoenix New Times, our sister publication). “I'm not suggesting that what you need to do is eat frozen food and go to McDonald's. But, if that's part of your lifestyle, you can still do that.”
In other words, he's not a drill sergeant looking to guilt you into going carb-free. He's also not a therapist ready to untangle your In-N-Out addiction. Vegans don't score extra points with him, and neither do Michael Pollan devotees. All Cizmar wants is to teach readers how to look good in their ModCloth dresses and thrifted band tees. Along the way, he unpacks the concept of “The Hipster,” makes fun of Coldplay and explains with mathematical precision why boxed wine is a better choice than PBR.
“Michal Pollan writes, 'Eat. Not too much. Mostly plants.' That's good general advice, but for someone overweight enough to want to buy a diet book, it's not going to help,” Cizmar said.
Clearly, Chubster isn't for everyone. Especially not everyone in locavore-obsessed Los Angeles. A diet guide that hails McDonald's as the Gandhi of fast-food chains? I'll be at the Hollywood Farmers Market fanning myself with a chard leaf, thanks. But while you might not be a frequent El Pollo Loco customer, chances are you know someone who is. That person might be happy to discover that the Taco al Carbon will set her back only 140 calories. Meanwhile, the Twice-Grilled Burrito? A dangerous 800.
Chubster includes calorie totals for common menu items at Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Ethiopian, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Greek and Indian restaurants. Calorie totals for fancier places fall under the heading, “Stuff You Probably Can't Afford,” while for the rest of us, there's a comprehensive survey of the costs and benefits of frozen meals. A particularly useful section also details what to drink if you want to stay skinny enough to balance on your fixie. (Stella=out. Everclear, awesomely enough, is totally fine.)
Cizmar's calorie-counting approach isn't exactly new, but his diet book might be the first aimed at twenty- and early thirty-somethings who listen to tUnE-yArDs. And yes, Cizmar says, he knows how you feel about the word “Hipster.”
“I used to think of it as kind of a pleasant term. Now people like to argue about how awful it is and I'm just not ready to give it up.”
Clearly no one's all that bothered. Food & Wine magazine's restaurant editor, Kate Krader. tweeted that the Chubster diet is “genius” and gave the book a shout-out on CNN's website. Even better, Cizmar says, “We got an email from the lead singer of an indie rock band in Phoenix. He told me he really needed this book. He read the entire thing in one sitting.”