The Littmann Test

A Las Vegan writes a book about his dramatic bounce back from drug addiction and childhood obesity

Jay Littmann became a drug addict at the age of 12, and he stayed that way for 17 years. Name a drug and he’s probably been there, done that.

But the real substance of this story is its happy ending: Littmann eventually conquered his addiction—and myriad other problems that life dealt him. It’s all in the Las Vegan’s new book, How to Get From There to Here: One Man’s Triumph Over Addictions, Obesity, and Being Down-and-Out (Emerald Book Co.).It’s a story that covers his being verbally and physically abused by his father, the beginning of his addictions, his downward spiral into harder drugs after being kicked out of his home at age 17, his upward surge to more than 400 pounds, and his come-to-Jesus moment at age 29 in 1991.

“When people abuse substances, they’re avoiding life,” Littmann says. “This isolates you from relationships and you stop growing emotionally.” As a child, he didn’t want to feel anything, especially his father’s drunken beatings, shouting and general discouragement. At 12 years old, taking that first sip of alcohol (which he and his friends stole from their parents’ liquor cabinets), gave Littmann the release and numbness he’d been yearning for.

“Drinking made me happy,” Littmann says. “It made me not think. The only downside was the hangover, but every up had its down, and that was worth it to me.” And from there, all the other substances seemed to collaborate as both escape and party. The drugs were a crutch for Littmann to ignore all the sadness and anger, but after nearly 20 years of substance abuse and near-death overdoses, he finally walked away.

Two Life Lessons

“I came from a dysfunctional family, but most people are from a dysfunctional family. No one is part of The Brady Bunch, so there’s no reason anyone should feel like an outcast. You’re not alone.”

“At the beginning of each day, be grateful for what you have. I once had an ailment where I couldn’t walk, so having that ability and being grateful for it are always good to keep in mind. It’s all about the bigger picture.”

Three Fitness Tips

Three days a week of cardio, 15-20 minutes per day. “The best time to do this is in the morning, before you eat. It burns the most fat.” Littmann also suggests doing what you like to make cardio a more enjoyable experience, so read on the treadmill and listen to music on the StairMaster, etc.

Eat small portions. “Americans love big portions and they eat too fast for their brain to register what they’ve eaten,” Littmann says. “Wait at least a minute between bites, then you tend to eat a bit less.” This way you have a stopping point and put a reasonable amount of food in front of you—and in you.

The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. “Do weight-resistant exercises. You don’t need to use gym equipment for this; a simple home phone book will do as a weight.” Start in moderation so you don’t injure yourself. To stay consistent, he suggests carving a small amount of time out of your day.

“I went to a bar to buy a beer,” he says, “and I suddenly realized if I didn’t walk now, I may never be able to. And I wanted make something out of my life.”

The change was dramatic. He worked on his sobriety for two years. He went to culinary school to pursue his hidden passion. And he got in shape.

Littmann, once 416 pounds, lost more than 200 in nine months. He started slowly, using the treadmill three times a week. He advanced his workouts by incorporating more cardio and weights. More importantly, Littmann changed his eating habits by managing his portions and incorporating a protein-heavy diet.

This change of lifestyle and a love for cooking inspired Littmann to jump-start his own business. Tri-O-Plex is his established international company in which he formulated protein bars and created workout DVDs to help others get healthy and stay healthy.

Now he’s a health and fitness guru, a successful businessman and—most surprisingly to him—a husband of 12 years and a father of two. “I never wanted to be a father because of my father,” he says. “But I’ve made a conscious effort to be a better one.”

Littmann’s kids are a huge driving force in his life, and he wants to inspire others with the moral of his story: to push forward no matter the times.

“Lots of people who are intelligent go nowhere in life,” he says. “If you want something bad enough, do the legwork and have faith—you can do anything you want in life.”

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