To say that I was fat would be an understatement. I weigh 155 pounds today, but at my heaviest I tipped the scales at 420 pounds with a 66-inch waist and 6XL shirt to back it up. My enormous stature was exploited at work, I was subject to constant ridiculing, got fat shamed at Taco Bell — which completely sucked because I was running for the border to ‘eat mas’ at least once a day — and I hated what I saw in the mirror. Oh, and my job sucked.
Life was a damn battle and I was miserable. It didn’t help that the girl I was dating at the time wanted to keep our relationship a secret. It actually became abundantly clear early on that she was ashamed of dating a gentleman of such large carriage.
She didn’t tell her parents about us and only told one friend who then took a vow of silence. But did I break up with her because of this? Hell no. She wasn’t fat, so I put up with that shit for more than a year.
When you’re that heavy your options are limited. So, even though she kept her parents (and damn near everyone else) in the dark and swore her one friend to secrecy, I stayed with her.
Anyway, that ended andt here I was in my mid-20’s, ready to pack it in. My waist was expanding at such breakneck speed that I was convinced I would be dead before turning 30.
My friends must have agreed because they tried to organize an intervention for me. Do you have any idea how humiliating that is? I didn’t have a drug problem and I certainly wasn’t an alcoholic. But because I was gorging on 10,000 calories every day they wanted to sit me down and tell me that I had a problem.
Of course I had a problem. Check that… I had problems. Christ, it would take me full day to list them all. The only mystery there was how any of my problems were affecting them. I never got the answer because I nipped that nonsense in the bud. I wound up calling the ring leader of this event and chewed him out.
I guess in the end I kind of held my own intervention. At some point, every severely overweight person comes to a fork in the road and needs to make a decision. They can either resign themself to an early grave or they can go all-in on change.
After years of abusing my body I finally reached such a point. Apologies for the cliché, but I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. My back hurt all the time and I couldn’t walk across the street without blowing up. Any time I moved I became drenched in sweat. I could ring my shirt out after taking it off. It was as if it had been dunked in water.
Then there were the chest pains. I couldn’t breathe and my chest began to tighten on the shortest of walks. I’d imagine that is terrifying at any age, but at 27 it is downright horrific. Even as I shoveled mass quantities of burritos and pizza in my mouth at night I wondered if I would wake up the next day.
That weighed heavily on me. As did the fact that I knew there was no way I would be able to land another girl. And even if I did, I wondered what type of woman would want to be with such a big guy. I was in the prime of my sexual life and cuddling up to fast food rather than the fairer sex. It sucked.
There was never one magic ‘a-ha’ moment where I decided to change. Rather, obesity had beaten me into submission over the years. When you’re carrying around all of that weight and the long list of problems that come with it, you get worn the fuck out. I was done.
Because I was so woefully addicted to food I opted to have gastric bypass surgery shortly after my 27th birthday. The procedure actually helped me break my food habit in a big way.
What I wish more people would understand is that no morbidly obese person chooses to be that way. For all intents and purposes they are addicts fighting an uphill battle like anyone else trying to kick a habit. The brain of a 400-plus pounder reacts the same way to food as a heroin addict’s does when they get their fix. That’s why it’s so hard for them to lose weight.
It worked. In a little over a year, I went from a hefty 420 pounds to a lean 155. My once 66-inch waist was now 32 and instead of buying 6XL shirts out of a catalog I was buying small shirts off the rack.
Anyone who drops a ton of weight and runs marathon or accomplishes a once impossible physical feat deserves a medal in my book. But that’s not what I did.
Instead of crossing the finish line I ended up standing on the sidelines covering the NFL. On top of that, I wound up in front of millions of people with a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback on WWE’s Monday Night RAW.
Following the procedure I radically changed my lifestyle and as the pounds came down my confidence shot way up. Almost on a whim I decided that I was going to start covering the NFL. So, I rounded up a couple of friends and built a website.
Everything started slowly at first because, honestly, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. Our plan was to do what 99 percent of other sites do and rip from ESPN, Pro Football Talk and a handful of other reputable outlets.
Then someone who was writing for me managed to get us credentialed with the Washington Redskins.
“Holy shit,” I thought. And holy shit indeed.
Traffic started to increase steadily because we now had original content and it wasn’t long before I was befriending some of the players and even teamed up with another reporter to host shows with them.
We talked a lot about x’s and o’s but I was tight-lipped about my heavy past. The 66-inch waist, the ex-girlfriend, the surgery… none of it was known by players or other reporters in the locker room.
When I began to open up about everything naturally there was a crap ton of curiosity.
I will never forget the day Brandon Banks, a pint-sized speedy returner, called me over to his locker. He was one of the players I was doing shows with at the time and I assumed incorrectly that he wanted to kick around a couple of ideas. He actually started bragging to his teammates in adjacent lockers about how much weight I lost.
It came as no surprise that one of them asked what happened to all the excess skin. When I said it was still there another offered me $1,000 to have it removed.
I couldn’t accept but I still think about how crazy it was that he even offered. However, a couple weeks later I did accept fashion tips from a wide receiver at the mall for a bit we were doing on the show. That was the first time I ever bought skinny jeans.
The site continued to experience traffic growth as I was able to break a number of stories. They weren’t anything major — just a signing here and there — but it was a good feeling to be able to scoop the more established beat reporters.
It wasn’t long after that I received phone call from the program director of the sports talk station in town. He offered me a job as a producer and I was more than happy to accept.
Back in the locker room I began having daily conversations about pro wrestling with a mammoth defensive end named Adam Carriker. He would give me his opinions on the latest WWE happenings and I would fill him in on the Monday Night Wars battle between Vince McMahon’s product and rival WCW. He was in the dark about that era because his father forbid wrestling in the house after Hulk Hogan turned heel (true story).
It wasn’t long after that we began doing a show together called “4th & Pain”.
It wasn’t long before WWE expressed interest in what we were doing and offered to help up set up interviews with their current roster. We even got to do a few backstage at Monday Night RAW at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
At some point we received a replica championship belt in the mail and this led to one of the biggest moments of my life and easily the biggest moment in the history of the show.
Following each game we would present the belt to the team’s most valuable player.
After a then rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III torched the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving we decided to give him the gold. And boom. Within hours of posting the clip on YouTube a WWE producer called to ask permission to show it on RAW.
That Monday more than four million people watched as I handed the belt over to RGIII who proceeded to do his best John Cena “you can’t see me” impression. For a lifelong wrestling fan that was pretty damn amazing.
My life has been one hell of a ride ever since.
Take my advice. Get off your ass and do something.