By Ken Hegan for The National Post

Alan Frew’s autobiographical self-help book, The Action Sandwich

So I was busy tricking seniors out of their retirement funds yesterday, when I asked myself, “Is this all there is to life?” There I was, massaging the knots out of Bernie Johnson’s 82-year-old calf muscles while he gave me power of attorney when I answered myself by saying: “Yes! There MUST BE more to life.”

I put down the Happy Feet vibra-massager and backed slowly out of the room. “From here on in, things are going to change!” I said. “And to start, I’m going to fulfill my dream of writing a column for the best newspaper in the known universe!”

Why not? I’m a man of adventure. I like a challenge. Or at least I used to. It’s not everyone who’s been a nude model AND been to Brazil. But those were my glory days. Now I’m a deeply-flawed mess. I am: Spiteful. Slothful. Gluttonous. Beer bellied. Giant mushrooms are crawling across my ceiling and I do nothing to stop them. And, through no fault of my own, my dog is racist. No lie. It’s a serious problem.

But on the bright side, I badly want to fix my life. And unlike most men, I’m not scared to ask for directions. So here’s how this column will work: Each month I’ll devote myself to a different self-help book. I’ll test its wisdom on myself and long-suffering family and friends. Then I’ll share the results here so you can become a better you.

Let’s get started. My first guru is Alan Frew, lead singer of Glass Tiger. Who can forget their 1986 single Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)? Well, just 19 years later, Mr. Frew has written an autobiographical self-help manual called The Action Sandwich.

The book is sub-titled A Six Step Recipe To Success By Doing What You’re Already Doing. And since I’m already doing nothing, this success thing should be a cinch!

I crack it open. To demonstrate how he was once as wretched as me, Frew talks about his hardscrabble Glasgow childhood. Guess who wins a bar fight by clobbering two guys with a beer bottle and a headbutt? That’s right: Alan Frew! You might say they got an early taste of THE ACTION SANDWICH.

After a meandering foreword and two rambling prologues, Frew finally kicks off Chapter 1 by quoting a great inspirational leader:

“It’s about the performance, not the applause.” — Alan Frew

Nice. I’d applaud this advice but THAT’S NOT WHAT FREW IS ABOUT, MAN.

Frew then unveils his philosophy. “You hold the key to an exhilarating, revolutionary and unlimited pathway to a successful life. I call it THE ACTION SANDWICH,” he says.

But before he’ll tell me his “simple strategy for success,” first he demands that I answer this question:

“What do you want?”

Whoa. Tough one. There’s a lot to want in the world. I write down:

Become a rock star without trying, learning an instrument, or practicing; lay in sun; drink mojitos; not pay for a damned thing; make ACTION SANDWICH out of hundreds of beautiful women like Frew does. Why not?

But Frew chides my lofty dreams. He says, “DESIRE must be attainable … increment your desires as you would your steps on a journey. Grab the Eiffel Tower, then the moon.”


I dial it back a notch. I look down at my beer belly. Then I change my goal to “Losing my chubby gut before patio season.” Not that I plan to go topless on patios this year. But I’d like to have a six-pack ready in case a topless patio party breaks out.

Now that he knows what I want, Frew lists the six key ingredients in an ACTION SANDWICH. These are:







So basically I must be receptive to having a sexy tummy, desire it, believe it, intend it, take action, and be passionate about it, too — all at the same time!

And maybe I could do a few sit-ups before I die.

But when? There’s no time. If I’m not working, eating or sleeping, I’m preventing my dog from committing hate crimes. Aha, but Frew has heard that argument before! “The only people who never fall are the ones who never stand up,” he says, adding: “Clumsy feet in ACTION are better than no ACTION at all. Come dancing!”

Damn, when he’s right, he’s right. So I created a “Workout Regimen” journal on my Facebook page, starting with —

What this is:

A semi-public record of my workouts with the goal of becoming a Sears underwear model.

Why public:

Because private workout records generally fail. You can lie to yourself but you can’t lie to the Internet.”

“Good start, Me,” I said, then reached for a doughnut. Ah, but as I did, Alan Frew glared at me from the book cover. Shamed, I turned to Chapter 5: ACTION and read, “Stop waiting to live. Talking about what you could do, might do, or worse still, could have done, is useless and an unconstructive use of ACTION. Decide on something, even one thing and move. Get going.”

He was dead right. I put the doughnut down. Got on the ground and did 10 sit-ups. Then nine more. And five more. Two hours later I’d completed 36 sit-ups and 33 push-ups.

That was four months ago.

Every morning before work, I do 100 sit-ups, read 10 pages of The Action Sandwich, then 100 push-ups. In 121 days, I’ve done 6,900 push-ups and 6,900 sit-ups/crunches.

The result?

My stomach changed from goo to great. If you could reach through this column and place your hands on my stomach, you’d feel six neatly carved abdominal muscles PLUS two V-shaped lower abs that fitness buffs call The Money Maker.

It’s amazing. Granted, my sexy six-pack hasn’t cured cancer. Nor has my six-pack rescued babies from burning buildings (yet!). However, I was play-wrestling my friend’s eight-year-old, when he punched my coiled-steel abs, hurt his hand and began to cry. I AM THAT AWESOME!

Now, I’m not saying this to seek your applause. Oh no. As Alan Frew says, “It’s about the performance, not the applause.” I eat better, sleep better, and yell at commuters 10% less.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Just because I can scrub my laundry on my stomach — and do — my life is far from perfect, e.g. mushrooms on the ceiling. But that’s next month’s worry. For now, I am “preparing to evolve” and passionately devouring my gourmet ACTION SANDWICH.

Alan Frew of Glass Tiger? You are my sensei, my Buddha.

Thank you, guru. I won’t forget you (when you’re gone).

— Ken Hegan