Cigarette money buys new level of fitness



Early in 2009, Jason Reichman decided he needed to do something for himself that would help promote a healthier lifestyle. A former Army paratrooper, Reichman, 37, had once been fit, and he wanted that for himself again. 

“First, I quit smoking,” says Reichman. “Then I took the money I had been spending every month on cigarettes and used it to pay for a gym membership and a trainer. In 10 weeks, I lost 35 pounds, which translated into six inches off my waist.”

Reichman says he had worked out and lost weight in the past, but he had never worked with a trainer. “With the cigarette money, I bought a block of time with Kelly Pollman, and he was a great inspiration,” says Reichman. Pollman works at Metro Personal Training, 7800 Bonhomme in Clayton. “I also restructured my day to include getting up early and going to the gym, and that made a big difference.”

Originally from New Jersey, Reichman moved here in 2001 after serving 10 years in the Army. He made time recently to talk about his self-improvement project.

How did you get started?

When some friends and I decided to quit smoking, I got a patch and used it for three weeks. Then I joined the gym, basically substituting one addiction for another. When I met with Kelly, we set up my fitness goals, and I started working out three days a week. I have to be honest – I thought the goals we set were a little lofty.

What happened?

I achieved the goals we set and then some. I started with 18 percent body fat, and we had agreed that I would work toward 9 percent. Today, I’m at 8.5 percent body fat.

How did you pull that off?

When I started working out, the weight started coming off – and remember, I had just quit smoking. As I started to see progress, I increased the number of days I worked out from three to four, and then to five, spending about 90 minutes at the gym on those five days.

Do you still keep to that schedule?

I’ve maintained the weight loss by working out three days a week, using a combination of free weights and machines. One day, I concentrate on upper body, back and chest, and abs. On the next visit, I work my legs. The third visit is dedicated to arms.

How have your eating habits changed?

I stopped hitting the candy machine, and I became more conscious of all the fried food that I had been eating. I still enjoy fried food, but I use it as a reward, eating fried chicken or fish only now and then. I’ve learned that when it comes to setting food goals, you have to look at the big picture. Sometimes, you just need to go out and eat pasta and tiramisu – or fried chicken – and skip the gym for a day. Then, it’s back to it.

So describe your diet now.

I eat a proper diet, with more vegetables and fruit and less meat. A typical breakfast is cereal with milk. I’ll eat fish with a salad and vegetable for lunch. Dinner is often a big salad. For snacks, I eat nuts, dried fruits and seeds.

You work in a restaurant. Does that help or hinder eating a healthy diet?

It is not a hindrance at all. It’s actually been a good thing. Working at Remy’s, I have been shown different ways of preparing foods that I might not have tried. Rachel Moeller, the executive sous chef, has let me pick her brain about cooking.

Any calorie-laden foods that you have trouble resisting? 

My big weakness is cookies. It doesn’t matter what kind – if the cookies are small, sweet and tasty, I’m down with it. One year, I helped make hamentaschen at Central Reform Congregation for Purim, and I remember eating a lot of them.

How do you keep cookies out of your life now?

Cookies are a constant struggle for me. I accept it, and I can beat it. But I know I can’t have cookies in my house.

Jason Reichman

WORK: Server at Remy’s Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar

HOME: Maplewood

FAMILY: Single

AGE: 37

HOBBIES: Softball, going to the gym, reading, hiking

PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Quit smoking, reduced body fat, lost 35 pounds and has kept it off.