We have all seen the popular late-night infomercials for such products as the Shake Weight, Quick Trim and the Thigh Glider. What do all of these have in common? They are available to help people lose weight. Regardless of whether these products work or not, we are enticed to buy them in order to shed the pounds.
As part of Drexel’s “A Healthier U” program, comedian and author Pete D’Alessandro stopped by the Mitchell Auditorium May 12 to share his story of how he lost 40 pounds and offer a different outlook on weight loss. Along with his story, the audience was shown pictures and pieces from D’Alessandro’s book, titled “The UnAmericanUndiet: A Cure For The American Diet Problem, By A Comedian, Not A Communist.”
Overweight since his teens until six years ago, D’Alessandro spent his college years at The Pennsylvania State University starting out as an engineering major. When he took a film class, it changed his mind about what major he was supposed to be in.
“After school, a film degree means one of two things in Pennsylvania: work at Starbucks, or move,” D’Alessandro said. After packing up his car, he drove to Los Angeles without money, a job or a place to live.
Being overweight for many years, D’Alessandro made the commitment to change his lifestyle.
“I really remember a lot of striking out with ladies. I decided to at least take control of my weight or die trying. I started out by cutting out my biggest problem areas – fast food, soda and sweets,” D’Alessandro said. A fan of video games, D’Alessandro even built a cart with wheels so he could transport his game console and television to the gym in his apartment building.
Breaking into comedy about the same time that he began losing weight, D’Alessandro said he believes that “people have a different reaction to a weight loss book that takes a comedic approach. The most interesting thing is that everyone takes away something different. Some nugget finds its way into everyone’s head and heart. I’d like to attribute that to the humor.”
As for “The UnAmericanUndiet,” the book is described as offering “a rare insight and solution to the American weight crisis.” The weight loss industry is big business; Americans reportedly spend $40 million a year on weight loss products and services. We are accustomed to hearing the step-by-step process on how people actually lose weight. What exercises they do, what they are and are not eating and what equipment they use at the gym seems to interest us more than why that person originally decided to lose the weight.
What makes D’Alessandro unique in all of this is the fact that he doesn’t go into the day-by-day trials and tribulations of losing weight. He tries to convey the fact that it’s not how you lose the weight that’s important.
“If you want it bad enough, you can find a way. Don’t settle for trying. Decide. Make a decision to lose the weight, and don’t accept failure or excuses,” D’Alessandro said.
Another unique aspect of D’Alessandro’s journey is that he doesn’t promote weight loss products, and even though he has received offers to endorse big fast food companies, he has declined. While we see celebrity endorsements all the time, D’Alessandro makes a significant effort to not promote any products or food, which shows his dedication to making the decision to lose the weight and not how or what popular diet is in the spotlight.
The best advice D’Alessandro received while losing weight comes from Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Try not. Do or Do not. There is no try.”
To find out more about Pete D’Alessandro and “The UnAmericanUndiet,” visit www.unamericanundiet.com.