Martin Cizmar dropped 100 pounds over eight months without giving up drinking, fast food or his aversion to gyms. He chronicles how he did it in “Chubster: A Hipster’s Guide to Losing Weight While Staying Cool” ($14, Mariner), probably the first diet book ever to praise the low-cal qualities of malt liquor. Cizmar, who was the music editor at the Phoenix New Times during his transformation, isn’t exactly a health expert. So feel free to disregard his ramblings on why America’s obesity epidemic won’t get worse. But his approach could tip the scales in your favor.
Why is calorie counting the basis for the Chubster diet?
Your body is a machine. It’s basic science — if you put too much fuel in it, it’s stored as fat. Using less fuel than you put in is how you lose weight. It’s not by eating a weird berry.
You clearly ate a lot of frozen food, based on the thorough rankings in the book. How did you become such a connoisseur?
Cooking is not something I enjoy. And I found myself very busy, so that’s what I was eating a lot of. I figured it’s information that’s useful to people. You don’t have to eat frozen dinners. If you’re cooking for yourself, you can count the calories of the ingredients you’re using. With a frozen meal, the calories are measured for you, but what you don’t know is if it’s edible.
Lean Cuisine’s Roasted Turkey Breast is your favorite. Any others?
Eating Right, which is a Safeway brand, so you can get it in D.C., has that Vegetarian Masala with the beans. It’s better than what I’ve had at some Indian buffets.
What’s always bad?
Pizza they do poorly a lot — they should stop trying to do pizza.
McDonald’s doesn’t seem hipster to me, so why defend it?
If you don’t know where to eat, there will always be a McDonald’s nearby. So if it’s something they can swallow their pride on, they’ll find some options there.
Is there an ultimate Chubster diet food to order when eating out?
Banh mi bread is quite similar to Subway bread. It’s not very dense. And a banh mi sandwich doesn’t usually have much meat, and it’s loaded with vegetables. So it’s like Subway, but it’s way cooler.
Why include so much booze info?
I think it’s a cheat for diet books to say not to drink. That’s part of the lifestyle — going out with friends and having a drink. You don’t want to just have to stare at them. So you can have a couple Miller Lites, and that’s 200 calories. You can drink two shots, and that’s 160 calories. I’m a beer drinker, so I like a dry stout. Guinness is actually lower in calories than a lot of other beers.
Advice for D.C.-area Chubsters:
Eat Ethiopian. He always does when he’s in town. But carefully consider what to order on your injera. “You need to stick with the vegetarian stuff,” says Cizmar, who recommends lentils and cabbage but advises avoiding fatty lamb.
Hoof it. “There are few places more pleasant to go for a walk [in] than D.C.,” he says. And walking is a particularly pleasant way to burn calories without sweating through your ironic T-shirt and skinny jeans.
Don’t get fries with that. Although Cizmar’s cool with most fast-food restaurants, he has a major beef with Five Guys — where a “regular” order of fries has a whopping 620 calories. “The D.C. area should be ashamed of foisting it on the American people,” he says.