Although I am 65 years I’m in the best shape of my life. Give or take two pounds, I’m the same weight now as I was 20 years ago, when I first started my own long journey towards health, healing and a healthy weight.
You see, I wasn’t always in great shape. In fact I used to be an overweight, out of shape drug addict!
Drugs were a big part of my daily life as a professional musician all through the ’70s and ’80s.
After years in the music business (and as an addict), I managed to get myself enrolled in a methadone maintenance program and stayed on it for 15 years, during which time I fell off the wagon many times.
But in 1982 I decided once and for all to be drug- and alcohol-free. I stopped drinking, went to AA and slowly, painfully, weaned myself off the methadone.
I managed to get off drugs, but I was still a big, fat, unhealthy slob.
At the time I was living at Manhattan Plaza in New York City and there was a block-long park between the two buildings in my complex. I tried jogging it once in the summer and literally wasn’t breathing normally for almost an hour.
To say I was “out of shape” would be putting it kindly.
Around 1982 I found myself working in musical theater, just about the time that pop and rock-oriented shows were finding a home on Broadway.
The actors tended to be in really good shape and most of them worked out religiously. I was working at the Goodspeed Opera House doing a new rock musical when I decided—on a whim— to ask one of the actors to teach me about lifting weights.
One thing led to another and I began working out fairly regularly. I began eating differently. About a year later, I quit smoking.
My body started to change, I dropped fat, gained muscle and had
That’s when I became a zealot.
Before long, I knew where the gyms were in every major city that road shows landed in. I read everything I could on nutrition and fitness, trying to understand the best way to build muscle and lose fat.
Most of the information that was widely available then was confusing, contradictory and seemed based on nothing more than opinion, especially the information in popular fitness magazines. It’s even worse today. Now that I have been involved with many popular magazines, I understand why.
But don’t get me started …
I wanted to know more. Coming from an academically oriented upper-middle-class Jewish family, I began wondering if it was possible to get a degree in this stuff.
My quest for truth led me to earn six personal training certifications.
I soon took a job as a floor trainer at the renowned Equinox Fitness Clubs. I was there when they opened their first gym and after several years I ultimately became the Dean of the Equinox Fitness Training Center.
At the height of my personal training career I was doing about 30 hours a week of personal training including celebrity clients (like Liza Minnelli and Carly Simon) as well as dozens of regular folks.
I was also hired as contributing editor to Fitness magazine (the editor-in-chief was one of my personal training clients), and I was writing a weekly column on weight loss and health for iVIllage.com.
In 1990, I signed my first book deal. My career was really beginning to move.
But there was trouble in paradise…