Losing weight is hard, especially since my job requires me to taste fries, pizza, and BBQ in order to tell readers what’s good. So, when I found a fat-burning diet that not only lets me, but REQUIRES me to eat copious amounts of cheese, avocado, and bacon, I jumped at the opportunity — and easily lost 10lbs in one month. But before I get into that, let me tell you how I got chubby.

I grew up a latchkey kid, most of my adolescence spent in the air-conditioned indoors. Sports didn’t come easily to me, and fitness was something reserved for the skinny white women I saw on TV. My family was not particularly active, and I only remember seeing my mom exercise a handful of times. The most amusing memory I have is of her furiously pumping away on a shoddy stair stepper, likely purchased from a Tony Little infomercial.

Like most kids in the ‘90s, I was raised on carbohydrate- and MSG-ridden crap: Bagel Bites, Hot Pockets, Cup Noodles, and Totino’s Party Pizzas, all eaten while watching Saved by the Bell. A home-cooked meal made with vegetables that didn’t come from a can was a rare occasion for my single, career-focused mother.

When I moved to Austin five years ago, I was both fascinated and confused by its tan, fit residents who woke up at sunrise… to run! The people I knew in my hometown of San Antonio didn’t hike or jog or do yoga. And I had never heard of (much less set foot in) an REI.

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