8 simple but not necessarily easy rules for losing weight and getting fit.

1) If you smoke, stop.

2) If you drink to excess, stop.

3) If you drink sweetened beverages, stop. That shit is almost as bad as cigarettes.

4) If you don’t exercise, start. No need to do anything fancy requiring training, specialized equipment, or clothes that make you look funny. Walking is lovely, especially this time of year.

4a) If you’re really fat you probably think you look terrible exercising in public and you don’t want to do it. Nobody really cares. Just keep walking and visualize your lean bad-ass future self.

That’s what I did for my first few months. I had to sit and rest after walking for 20 minutes. It was pathetic. I just went with it. Shame is a useless emotion, eliminate it from your life.

5) Keep a food journal and record every bite you eat, along with the calorie count. It’s a pain in the ass at first, but it gets to be a habit — even a comfortable ritual.

6) Weigh yourself every week. Not more often than that — your weight can fluctuate literally a couple of pounds, day to day, and it doesn’t mean anything. If you weigh yourself every day, you’ll make yourself crazy.

7) Go on a sensible food program. Avoid fad diets. Yeah, you’ll lose weight, but then you’ll gain it all back, and all your discipline and work will be for nothing. You want a program you can stick with over the long term. After you’ve hit your goal weight, you’ll continue eating the same things, just a little more of them.

8) Everything in moderation — including moderation. Have an ice cream sundae or a plate of nachos or a few beers every once in a while. Be sure to enjoy it and don’t feel a bit guilty. Then get back on your sensible eating program the next morning.

#8 is extremely important. It’s a lot easier to walk by a plate of cookies or a cheeseburger knowing that you can have it if you really want it, if not now then another day. Life is to be enjoyed, and part of that enjoyment is good food, and some of that good food has a lot of fat and sugar and alcohol and stuff in it. Just make it an occasional thing, not an everyday thing, and you’ll be fine.

9) Accept the fact that you’re going to be eccentric. You’re gong to be That Healthy Eating Kook. You’re going to be That Weirdo Who Keeps a Food Journal. Just go with it. It’s not a big deal.