That is my weight, in pounds, as of yesterday (beard included). Down from 230 last July. If I had to describe how I did it (and it’s a blog, so I simply must), I would describe it as a question of inputs and outputs.

Inputs: Brooke and I are practically vegetarian at home: we eat lots of beans and vegetables with fresh fruit and multi-grainy bread and we only really eat meat when we go out to restaurants. We still eat sweets and desserts, but portion sizes in Israel are about half what they are in the States and food is much more expensive. Drinks are much more expensive and there are NO FREE REFILLS. That means very little (if any) sweetened carbonated drinks get consumed every day. I just need to emphasize as well that without Brooke’s amazing culinary mastery, I would not have such a high quality of life or eat such a delicious variety of foods. I eat four meals a day, which teaches my body that it can devote resources to building and strengthening muscles instead of converting it to fat (which would happen if you only ate once or twice a day).

Outputs: I walk to and from campus every day (which is about 40 minutes round trip), but the biggest difference has been made by consistent effort at the gym for the past seven months. This means two or three 90-minute workouts per week with most of the time dedicated to strength training of the major muscle groups (legs, back and chest) and each workout beginning with about 20 minutes of cardio warm-up. I have developed an A-day, B-day schedule where the A-day program focuses on the chest, shoulders and triceps and the B-day program focuses on back, lower back and biceps. So with three workouts a week, this means that I will have an A-B-A week followed by a B-A-B week and so on, which gives each major muscle group ample time to rest and rebuild itself between workouts.

The results: thus far, I have lost 30 pounds and about 5 inches off of my waist. I feel that I have much more stamina for prolonged activity like walking and climbing stairs, and cleaning tasks at home (washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms and doing laundry) are much less exhausting to me. According to the Body Mass Index (a quick and dirty method of measuring the state of your body) I have gone from Class I Obesity (the lowest class) to merely Overweight. Hooray? The shortcomings of the BMI are important to keep in mind (especially since the method does not differentiate between lean muscle mass and body fat), but it is a simple way to determine where you stand and I’m at least going in the right direction. Hooray.

But the BMI is not and has never been the measure I’ve had in mind since beginning this experiment in healthy living. My mantra has always been this: gain strength, lose excess weight. That’s it. I don’t really have a target weight or even a target physique in mind, I just want to improve what I have and lose what I don’t need. In the meantime, it has been very gratifying and enjoyable to see the strength gains enumerated in the kilograms I can bench press (about 85) and how many pull-ups I can do at a time (about 13 as of April) as all of the exercises I have tried and enjoy.

I had to start at a very basic level, since it had been almost a year since I’d undertaken any serious physical exercise. I couldn’t do one pull-up, one bar dip and I was barely able to jog for 5 minutes straight. And my muscles were angry at me for putting them through so much and for about two months I didn’t feel or see any noticeable difference. But by that point, I was looking forward to going to the gym, I was mentally planning my workouts and hoping that I could surpass what had been achieved that last time. I’ve been hooked ever since and the noticeable improvements in stamina and physique have only helped to encourage me.

So why blog about this? Merely to brag? Well, yes. But most importantly, to show that it can be done. It’s like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein screaming to the night “IT. COULD. WORK!” I bought a book about a year and a half ago called Fitness Made Simple. I read most of it and didn’t even bring it to Israel, but I credit that book with one important contribution: it convinced me that living a healthy life was possible. This was a major change for me, as I always had this idea that I just couldn’t improve upon what genes had given me. The fact is that with dedication, discipline and a willingness to accept gradual improvements, you can see great things happen.


  1. Will you be my personal trainer after I have my baby?

  2. That is awesome Max. Seriously, way to go (and way to go culinary master Brooke!)

    I find it embarrassing America's food mentality. I never realized it until I was in Europe. Anyway, that is just incredible!

  3. Very inspiring! Way to go, Max!

  4. Everything is just better when you go to the gym. I can't explain it any other way. It isn't that it was "bad" before - things are just better when you do. Good on you my dear. I look forward to a "show of guns" upon arrival!!!! Love you love you. Meeba

  5. You inspired me today and I walked the 35 minutes to work. It probably won't happen every day, but you inspired me, and I just wanted you to know. Guess what? We get to see each other super soon.

  6. Well done! And I'm exceedingly impressed by your pull-ups.

  7. "Hooray?"

    Yes, HOORAY. And I also think the BMI index thing is a bit screwy.

    Congratulations to you for your weight loss! I lost a lot of weight about four years ago, and did it with the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Fruits, veggies, beans, nuts. The total way to eat! Even now, I don't eat anything else.

    Way to go, Brooke, for being such an awesome cook! You now know what I'm going to ask for, right!? Favorite veggie-based and bean recipes!! :)

  8. Kolbi - I think I could probably handle sending some recipes your way:) I'll let you know when I find an especially good one :)

  9. That is AWESOME!! Mazel Tov on your amazing accomplishment!