Friends call their north Columbia home the House of Fat.
It’s no surprise. On Aug. 25, roommates Clint Militzer, David Champlin and Zac Maggi combined to weigh 890 pounds.
They have worked to resolve some of their weight issues lately, at a rate of 15 pounds a month. They attribute their success to the low-carbohydrate dieting principles first published by Dr. Robert Atkins more than 30 years ago.
Last year, Maggi watched his father cut 70 pounds while on the Atkins diet plan. At 5 feet 8 inches and 260 pounds, Maggi knew something had to be done about his weight. He took his dad’s copy of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution and set his sights on a 200-pound bod.
His roommates in the House of Fat, Militzer, 300 pounds, and Champlin,
330 pounds, followed his lead. They started cutting the carbohydrates on the first day of school.
“It’s much easier to do something this hard when you have your roommates to look out for you all the time,” Maggi says.
Playing off the low-carb approach, Atkins Nutritionals, the company that sells products for use with the diet, offers more than 100 different low-carb foods. It sells everything from candy bars to condiments in more than 40,000 stores nationwide.
Unfortunately, there’s little room in the college dieters’ budget to buy Gerbes’ $2.49 Splenda pack, an Atkins sweetener.
“It’s a simple diet: no bread, no pasta, no beer,” says the 6-foot, now 300-pound Champlin, adding that he and his roommates have learned to keep away from the McDonald’s drive-thru that is about a mile down the road.
Although the trio praises Atkins’ nutritional gospel, oddly enough none of the guys has read the book cover to cover. The 500-page dieting manual sits in their living room amid a pile of DVDs. They use it occasionally as a reference guide to count carbs and to get recipes.
An estimated 17 million copies of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution are in print today. It’s HarperCollins’ top-selling diet book. In January, the most recent revision, Atkins for Life, became a New York Times bestseller within days of its release. The new and improved diet book sold nearly 2 million copies.
“Diet books are a dime a dozen,” says Sarah Durand, editor of Morrow/Avon Publishing, a subsidy of HarperCollins. “It takes a lot of sound studies and success for one book to rise to the top.”
HarperCollins’ expectations are enormous for next year’s launch of three more Atkins books, including an Atkins shopping guide and an Atkins book for dieters who have diabetes.
With 30 pounds down and 30 more to go, Maggi is starting to see definition around his neck, Militzer has noticed his chest flattening, and Champlin’s shrinking waist has made classroom seats easier to fit into. As the weight peels off, the House of Fat jokes will ideally disappear like the “House of Usher.”
Militzer, who’s going to shoot for a 225-pound goal by next year, says, “I’d be fine with calling it the House of Less Fat.”
— Jeff Douglas