As you can see in the picture, I lost a ton of weight in a very quick amount of time when I realized that my football playing days were over. I lost roughly 85 pounds in a four month stretch. I originally wanted to lose the weight to look better. I wasn’t intended to be a big human.
In fact, when I was a freshman at Purdue University, I was 195 pounds. I hit a growth spurt and was training with the Marine Corps ROTC and lifting weights after class and eventually shot up to 230 pounds before showing up at walk-on tryouts for the Boilermaker football team, along with my training partners. Somehow I showed enough physical skills in that tryout to be a tackling dummy and was given the opportunity of a lifetime.
I originally worked with the linebackers and so 230 pounds was completely adequate. But, it was quickly recognized that I wasn’t nearly fast enough to play that position. So, the coaching staff moved me to the defensive line for a year before moving to the offensive line, where I was drastically undersized.
That’s when I started eating like a mad man and lifting like a lunatic. Heavy weights and a constant influx of calories. I would eat two pounds of ground beef a day, two Jimmy John’s Gargantuan submarines, enough Fazoli’s pasta and unlimited breadsticks to stuff an army, and would set an alarm clock to drink a 700 calorie protein shake at 3 in the morning. It worked. I grew and got very strong. But, I knew the other side of life.
I knew that this weight was serving it’s purpose for the time being. I knew that it was a necessary evil to be able to play the position that I was physically able to play. I also knew that one day I would LOVE to lose all of this weight again and return to the way I once physically looked and felt.
I wanted to have endless energy and not sweat walking up the 8 stairs to get to my front door. I didn’t want my inner thighs to be chaffing walking a mile down the road. I was tired of eating. I was tired of not being able to find clothes that fit. I was tired of being puffy and bloated and having to constantly be on the lookout for my next meal. Simply put, I was tired of being fat.
But there was something other than the materialism and improved health and energy that came along with the weight loss. The completely unexpected side effect of losing the weight was shedding the past and finding my future.
For the 3 years that I played at Purdue and the 11 years with the Chargers, I was a BIG man. Not just in the physical sense. I recognized myself as a BIG, tough guy that could handle myself physically on the football field and was viewed that way when walking around in public. But, the time had come to move along from that. I no longer was able to play football due to deteriorating health. I no longer needed to be strong and tough and hulking. I was no longer fighting for a living. Physically, it was unnecessary.
Mentally, as I was losing weight at about 20 pounds per month throughout the 2014 football season; a season in which I was put on IR week 1 due to neck injuries, it hit me. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t possibly perform my old duties. I was no longer big enough or strong enough. So what was I?
As the weight was falling off, I realized I was finding my spirit again. I was finding what made me me from the inside out. I came to the realization that you aren’t your body. You are your soul. You live deep down inside of your physical appearance. The weight loss helped me find my true self again.
I get the sense that a lot of folks struggling with weight issues identify themselves with their size. Like me, the size has become a figurative suit of armor that you have built around your spirit as either a physical protective mechanism or an emotional one. Weight loss then may have a mental barrier that has to be broken through, as you are protecting yourself and afraid of revealing the true you.
Believe me, losing the weight is not an easy task. It takes a massive amount of will power and changing your habits. But, one aspect that may not be addressed often enough is how emotionally you may be holding onto the past.
Trust yourself. You have an amazing spirit and soul and that those aspects of you will reveal themselves even further when you find a renewed energy and health. You will find out new facets of your psyche that you may not have seen in your previous physical form.
I needed to lose weight because my health demanded it. But, I learned along the way that weight loss has a serious side effect; to lose weight was to lose my former self and find my future self. It has been life changing.