Penn Jillette: Holiday Cheat Sheet

November 14, 2016

Our favorite magician/best-selling author/weight loss success story, Penn Jillette, shares his unique strategy to survive and thrive during the holidays.

Holiday Cheat Sheet

by Penn Jillette

I’ve been around my target weight for 20 months. The magic number for weight loss seems to be two years. In just 24 months many dieters have gained much of the fat back. I feel pretty confident that I will keep the weight off, but pride cometh before the fall, so I try to stay worried.
I’m not a cheater in any way. Yeah, I do things people think I shouldn’t do, but I do them loud and proud. I won’t even palm a card in our magic show without telling people I’m doing a sneaky move.
I’m on my strict CrayRay/Dr. Furhman diet. The briefest description possible is: “whole plants.” The slightly longer one is: “No animal products, no refined grains, extremely low salt, sugar, and oil.” The stupidly long description is: Presto! How I Made More than 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette.
I don’t ever cheat but about every 2 weeks, I do a “rare and appropriate” and do some serious retro eating. I take a four hour period and eat “whatever I want.” Now, I always eat “whatever I want” and what I want is not to die of being fat, but every two weeks I eat the way I used to eat when I was dying of food. I often go longer than two weeks because the pizza, fries, hamburgers, and doughnuts I used to love now taste like motor oil dripped over a salt lick. I’ve changed. But, I still kind of half assed keep chasing that first high every couple of weeks. But, that ain’t cheating, I plan for it.
I also celebrate holidays with shitty food. For Halloween, I had pizza and candy with my children (What’s pizza got to do with Halloween? Shut up.) Then a couple days later I was in the Big Apple for our movie opening and my buddy, Brian, the police officer, said that Carnegie Deli was closing this year and it was our last chance. He said we had to go. I said we didn’t. He said he was paying. I said we had to go.
I split a Woody Allen with Ratso. Woody Allen is a huge pastrami and corned beef on rye. Saying we split it might sound like moderation, but at Carnegie a sandwich is enough to fill a backpack so splitting is not moderation, it’s just too lazy to carry 3 pounds of salty greasy meat back to the hotel to watch it rot. I had French fries, a piece of cheesecake the size of your shoe with strawberry goo on top and 5 cans of Cel-Ray soda (Cel-Ray is carbonated sugar water with a faint taste of celery. Yeah, celery, you got a problem with that? It’s mostly sugar.) I was happy to split the sandwich with Ratso, but not as happy as I am to just have a dear friend named Ratso.
Coming up in a few weeks is Thanksgiving, which celebrates gluttony and Christmas, which as an atheist I don’t celebrate except to eat, and New Year’s, which is my family’s holiday celebration and well, we’ll eat more. Like pigs.
So this is the time of year where my weight could easily slip back up. And it will creep up a little. I usually half-fast for about twenty-four hours before one of these retro eats, and again about twenty-four hours after. And every day I will step on my trusty Withings scale. I got the groovy new one that does that enlightening special heart measurement that I don’t understand except that I’m doing okay. I step on that scale every single day. The scale sends my weight magically to CrayRay, my doctor, my wife, and a few hardcore diet friends. They never bust me, but I know it’s going to them. I know if I don’t step on the scale, they will bust me. They keep me on track.

They keep me on track because they love me and they want me to stick around. I keep me on track because I love them and want to stick around. So yes, a fancy Wi-Fi scale made of aluminum and tempered glass that you buy, that I step on, helps me not cheat myself out of more time with people I love.
Although the Carnegie deli might be going away, I wanna stick around to celebrate way more holidays, with, like, pizza on Halloween.
Missed the story of Penn’s weight loss?  Check out our Penn videos and photos, and find out how to get his new book free when you order a Wi-Fi scale.