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Cosby's 'I Am What I Ate' Makes Light Of Dieting

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Last year when he turned 65, Bill Cosby found out that he had a 30% blockage in a carotid artery that supplies blood to his brain and that his cholesterol was ''470'' -- well, maybe closer to 205.

It may not be a laughing matter, but Cosby, now 66, sees the humor in struggling to live a healthier life and writes about it in his new book, I Am What I Ate . . . And I'm Frightened!!! (HarperEntertainment, $19.95) with illustrations by George Booth.

Since his diagnosis, the comedian has been trying to resist the foods his taste buds love -- scrapple (a mush of pork scraps and cornmeal, sliced and fried), croissants, bacon, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, hoagies, cakes, pies, cheese, butter -- and eating more ''boiled things.''

He's also occasionally sneaking chocolate chip cookies when his wife, Camille, isn't looking, and he is hoping to find a miracle pill so he can eat doughnuts and fried chicken and not worry about the buildup of plaque in his arteries.

Cosby, who has written several books, including the best seller Fatherhood, and starred in I Spy, The Cosby Show and other TV series, decided to write a book about a healthy lifestyle because he thought, ''Who better than I, someone who never had one?''

Speaking from his home in New York City, Cosby says his goal with the book is to help people realize that they have got company in their struggles to eat better and exercise more.

''I want them to open it up, start reading and laughing and say, 'Oh my goodness, I'm not alone.' ''

At 6 feet 1, Cosby once weighed 230 pounds but now weighs 194.

He says his health has improved over the past year. His cholesterol is now 183 without medication because he walks 4 to 10 miles a day on his treadmill (he takes the weekends off), is eating properly and stopped smoking cigars several years ago. And, ''I'm two months coffee-free. Not only coffee, but espresso.''

On a typical day, he gets up at 4 a.m. and walks on his treadmill for about 2 miles at 4 mph. ''Many times, I'm a grumbler,'' he says.

Then he cooks something, usually fish or chicken and a vegetable. He has a glass of water after his meal.

He gets backs on the treadmill again and walks another 2 miles at just under 5 mph and then sits down with a bottle of water. He listens to his body, and if he feels great, the walks some more. ''I love it when I do 10 miles.''

Cosby eats four times a day and never goes longer than 4 hours without eating.

His diet is healthier now, but he misses foods like scrapple. Still, he knows it's one of those dishes that when you eat it, people will ruin it for you by saying, ''If you saw what they put into that stuff, you wouldn't be eating it.''Bill Cosby on . . .

The loss of foods he loves:

''I would have tasted pizza more if I had known that one day I could never eat pizza again. As it is, I just gobbled every slice. I should have chewed longer and I should have eaten the crust.''

The foods he's now supposed to eat:

''Boiled broccoli has a taste that makes you chew it a long time. Not that it tastes beautiful, it's just that you don't want to swallow it. You just keep chewing it.''

The problems with exercise:

When you get up to exercise, your ''joints begin to talk to you. . . . They want to know what you have in mind and who is going to bear the weight.''

And if you finally do get out on the walking path, there are people from 40 to 112 who are faster than you, and you feel there is no safe place for you except on the grass. ''You've got to get off the trail. Because these people are speeding.''

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© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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