Originally published in Baratunde's bi-weekly GOODCRIMETHINK column in the July 18, 2007 edition of Boston's Weekly Dig

I've lost a lot of weight. I know because everyone keeps telling me that I've lost a lot of weight. Then they ask, "What's your secret?"

It wasn't part of any plan, and I'll share the "secret" without ganking a basic concept from a late 19th century religious movement, packaging it into a DVD/book/CD and charging $29.95. Ready? I no longer eat dinner at midnight, lunch is my biggest meal, and my primary form of local transportation is walking--20 to 30 miles per week. I get exercise, and I get to experience the city.

I thought I'd bring you along with me on one of my regular routes from my apartment in Union Square, Somerville to the Mass General Hospital area. Transformers, roll out!

Our journey begins, as any real Boston journey should, at a Dunkin' Donuts. This one is at Prospect Street and Somerville Ave. I'll never be a real New Englander because I hate most things about Dunkin' Donuts. The donuts suck, and the "coffee" is just liquified sugar. There are a few redeeming qualities in this particular location, however. First, it's open 24 hours and serves as the second bathroom for my apartment. Second, it's open 24 hours and serves as a satellite police station for my apartment.

Now, head east on Somerville Ave, passing two of the six auto repair shops that dot my route. I'm sure these businesses will be replaced with luxury condos when the Green Line gets extended to Union next century. This building on our right with the perpetual soccer match on the screen is the Demosthenes Democratic Club. As far as I can tell, it's where Greek men go to avoid saying hi to me.

As we approach a right turn onto Medford Street, you'll see Target on the right. Living near a Target used to excite me. Then I found out Target allows its pharmacists to refuse to fill women's contraceptive prescriptions. They haven't gotten a dollar from me since, but I have considered donating unwanted babies.

Pass under the commuter rail overpass, and pause at Medford & Ward Streets, home of La Hacienda. A British taxi driver told me this place had the best pizza in the area. He was right. I recommend the four-cheese white pizza.

After a few more auto body shops and the hideous Twin City Plaza strip mall, Medford St. becomes Gore St. on the Cambridge side. There's another Dunkin' Donuts at Third St., this one protected by Cambridge's Finest. Keep walking straight, right through the Lechmere T stop onto McGrath Highway and alongside the Museum of Science. Be sure to yell "quack quack" as loud as possible at the Duck Tours. The drivers love when you do that.

Ahead and across Storrow Drive you can see the Charles River Park Apartment towers, the "If you lived here, you'd be home by now" people. What they don't tell you is that if you lived there, you'd also be broke by now. A one bedroom can set you back over $2,000 a month.

The downside of all this walking is the oppressive summer heat, but on hot days like these, it's nice to know I can pop in to the State Police Department at Storrow amd McGrath and walk out with a refreshing Coolata.