The Funemployment Diet

I think every new college student knows about the "Freshmen Fifteen," the alleged amount of weight all incoming coeds gain after a year's worth of keg parties and late night pizza and unwanted pregnancies. By remaining cautiously aware, I was able to avoid gaining the freshman fifteen, thanks to sheer luck and appetite-sapping anxiety.

But of course, I had to go and gain a Senior Fifteen instead. Couldn't do the "mainstream" weight gain, had to blaze a trail instead. So hipster. Either way, I found myself graduated and fairly upset with how I looked in all of my grad pictures. GradPhotos.com sent me daily emails begging me to buy digital copies of myself looking like a bloated British judge with a non-powdered wig, and I graciously declined. I felt like I'd gone from Lost World: Jurassic Park Vince Vaughn to current day Vince Vaughn. All I wanted was Swingers Vince Vaughn.

So I decided to embark on a body changing summer plan. Hey, it's not like I'm busy. Here are my accumulated tips for how to get active when every day runs together and your bed is oh so inviting and oh look it's almost Shark Week!

DO: Join a gym. I know you have no money. Neither do I! But this is your one thing on which you have to splurge. Trust me, we'll have plenty of money saving tips later on. Beg your parents for the money, saying it's for a good cause (creating a grandchild eventually). Say you want to look in shape for job interviews! Your dad will smile broadly, and peel a crisp $100 off his money clip. He will ask you what interviews you have lined up, and you will pretend not to hear and say your phone is dying. He will remind you that you are in the same room.

DO: Make sure you join a crappy gym, full of ugly people, so that you don't feel shame every time you show up. I joined the 92nd St Y gym, which is full of older Jews who smell like mothballs. They are all very sweet and gentle, but it's the kind of gym where you just KNOW that the emergency medical kit gets used there once a month, minimum. Those heart paddles in the little box on the wall get juiced every day like in every episode of House.

DONT: Keep weighing yourself. That is the easiest way to get discouraged. Just do it the one time at the beginning - make sure to put down the bag of SmartFood Popcorn before you hop on the scale, because cheddar cheese flavored snacks can add up to two pounds to your weight and are not healthy even though they are called "Smart." If you INSIST on knowing your progress, design a fun science experiment to keep your mind sharp! How about filling up a bathtub, getting inside and marking on the side of the tub with a Sharpie your water displacement level! Then, remember your high school physics to try and figure out your weight. (Fun Fact: The RMS Titanic displaced 52,310 tons. You're probably less than that (probably))

DONT: Buy weightlifting gloves. They do not make you look more buff, sadly. They make you look like you're buying a pair of mittens in installments.

DO: Shower at the gym! There's free water, free shampoo and conditioner, free towels - did someone say heaven?! It's especially useful when your building shuts off the water every day to deal with an ever-worsening "emergency" that no one is very clear about. Actually...

DONT: Shower at the gym. This exact scenario happened to me the other day: there was no water in my building, and I figured I would shower at the gym. Standing naked in a shower room that is so old it was probably segregated back in the day, I was testing the water with my hand. Suddenly, a fully naked old man creeped up behind me and shouted, "IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE A LITTLE HESITANT TO GET IN!" I turned around slowly to see his weathered, wrinkly face contorted in a smile. I thought he had two sets of kneecaps until I realized what I was actually looking at were his balls hanging down between his knees. I tried to laugh and talk at the same time and ended up basically coughing on him. Then I showered as quickly as possible and ran out.

DO: Make sure you go as much as humanly possible. Be honest, you aren't busy with much else. None of the good shows are back on yet and Hulu is a wasteland right now. Netflix just raised its prices and you can't afford it anymore. You have the time, for the first and possibly only time in your life. Do an hour of cardio every day. Run in the park if it is not 100 degrees out. Swim at the gym pool for as long as possible, then go out and smoke weed and be a douchebag - the full "Michael Phelps."

DONT: Be embarrassed about being at the gym so much. Because my gym is a Y, I assume there are plenty of transient young people staying there as well - young Jews from the old country here to see America for all its splendor. Freshly showered and in clean clothes, I was standing in front of the Cafe when the man behind the counter said: "Excuse me young man, do you live here?" "NO!!" I shouted, a little too forcefully. "I have a home!" He looked at me in confusion, then sort of diagonally at the floor, like I had embarrassed him. I smiled, but it was too late. I paid for my terrible Greek yogurt and left.

DO: Eat yogurt. It just sounds healthy, right? It MUST be, in that case. Greek yogurt tastes terrible and has 0 fat and 100 calories, so eat away! Spice it up with some fresh fruit, or honey, or try eating it on a bridge or something. Anything to distract from the taste.

DO: Smile at everyone. Not in a creepy way, just in a friendly way that makes people think you aren't starving and exhausted and depressed. Maybe you'll trick yourself into not being any of those things! I have been smiling at everyone I see in the hopes that my winning grin will convince someone to offer me a job on the spot. I envision an older man in a seersucker suit and a straw boater hat, who is so impressed by my pleasant demeanor that he tells me he likes the "cut" of my "jib" and tells me that he wants me to write for his magazine "immediately." That reminds me...

DO: Make up elaborate fantasies at the gym. Being on the elliptical for an hour is incredibly boring, especially when the little TV screens are broken or the only thing on is Divorce Court, in which case broken would be better. Dream about the life you will lead once you get that big job at the hedge fund, or the law firm, or the TV network or the circus or the MIR International Space Station. ProTip: Sometimes you will need a book or magazine to pass the time. Magazines can be easily concealed in clothing from doctor's offices, therapist's offices, hotel lobbies, etc. Books can be stolen from the library.

DO: Stop drinking so much. My ninth grade biology teacher told us about beer bellies and how calories from liquids are basically converted directly into fat, while you are still standing at the bar. She also made me touch a Madagascar hissing cockroach after I told her cockroaches were my number one fear. So, kind of a mixed bag from her.

DONT: Pay for drinks. That's a great way to cut down on your drinking: find friends who are bartenders, or waitresses, or own vineyards or whatever. Go out drinking with them the two or three times a month they can tolerate you, and you will have access to all the drinks you want for free, only less frequently than before. ProTip: When they ask you what you want, your guilt will momentarily distract you, so just say you'll have whatever they are having. That way their bartender friend only makes one big batch, and you get to drink stupid things with egg whites and St. Germain in them. This will discourage you from drinking in the future.

DONT: Eat pizza every day. I did this for the first month or so - rookie mistake!
DO: Eat healthy! Pizza is so cheap and delicious, but it is the opposite of that terrible healthy yogurt you ate for breakfast and probably screwed your hour at the gym. Try eating salad - it's healthy, it often has chicken and cheese in it, and it is full of vitamins and minerals that will cancel out the burrito you have for dinner (Note: I am not sure that's how salad works).

DO: Eat only what you can steal and grift from people. Art openings or dinner parties are a great way to load up on food. Drop in on that family friend or aunt you haven't called in forever! If she's not home, jimmy her door open with your MetroCard and raid that fridge. Wait, she only eats cottage cheese and salmon dip? Ugh. Break down and call your parents, then slip words into conversation like "I'm hungry for work" and "I'm starving to get started with a new job" and "I've only eaten ramen noodles for the last few days, uncooked." They'll get the hint.

Finally, DO: Stick to it. You need something in your life right now that forces you to get up somewhat normally, put on different clothes and interact with other people. The other day, I went NINE HOURS without talking to another person. Daytime hours. I hadn't opened the blinds in days. I hadn't shaved, so my patchy beard made me look like a dog who had just had surgery. An unknown number popped up on my phone, and the woman on the other end would not, could not accept that Andre was not there. I wished her well, then went to the gym to see if I could find that old man to talk about showers again.

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