In exactly four weeks I will turn 50 years old. Looking down the barrel of that mythic half-century mark, the one that comes with a humbling letter from the AARP, I find I’m less troubled by it than I am by another number—the one on my driver’s license, the one I haven’t weighed for at least a decade (or, to be honest, since college). That number is 135. On the rare occasions I get on the scale, my weight tends to hover around 150, which for a woman of five feet ten is hardly cause for alarm. Still, while I eat pretty clean, my belly’s no washboard; though I walk Runyon Canyon with regularity, I’ve got more “back” than I once had; I lift weights twice a week, or try to, but often the most strenuous workout my biceps get is lifting a glass of Sancerre. Suddenly it occurs to me that it’s now or never. An idea starts to take hold: Be ten pounds lighter by the Big 5-0. If 50 is the new 40, why not turn 150 into 140, too? I imagine a fitness blitz that will melt away my fat pads like Dorothy obliterated the Wicked Witch. We’re not talking Biggest Loser here but rather My Dream Body—the body I fantasize I can have if, like movie stars and athletes, I consider fitness part of my job. Maybe if I literally work my ass off for 28 straight days, I can attain the ideal that has eluded me. You can’t control the years, but can you control the pounds? I’m about to find out.***
The measuring tape is lassoed around my thighs: 21 inches. Hips: 41.25. Biceps: 10.75. Shoulders: ...