Monday, July 18, 2011
SUPERSIZE ME: HOW I GAINED 40 POUNDS OVERNIGHT
I woke up on June 30th of last year in close to the best shape of my life. I was 210 lbs,
which is what I weighed as a seventh-year senior at UNC. A six-pack was never in my
genes, but I no longer had the love handles that woman between the ages of 52 and 67
dreamed of holding on to. Two weeks earlier, at the age of 45, I completed a half-ironman,
which came on the heels of a 100-mile bike ride to Montauk.
As the calendar prepared to turn over from June to July, I went for a bike ride on a near
perfect, sun-splashed afternoon. I wish the ride was as flawless as the day. I edged a pothole
going downhill, flipped my bike and was nearly road kill. I separated the AC joint in my
shoulder and left three chunks of flesh from my back, hip, and shoulder on that asphalt road
The bad news was, I couldn't work out for at least three months. The good news was, I got
introduced to something that would become my new best friend: Vicodin. Vicodin is to people
in pain what Viagara is to men looking for a little somethin', somethin' to perform like Dirk
Diggler and get them through the night. I can see why Brett Favre got addicted to Vicodin. It
makes you feel good and groovy.
Unable to work out, I needed something else to obsess about and get addicted to. I was 37
days from reaching my goal of not drinking for a year, and that was out anyway, since I
was on Vicodin. Extreme eating become my new sport. What comfort I didn't get out of
Vicodin, I got from stuffing my face like Augustus Gloop in "Wily Wonka's Chocolate Factory."
I had been a workout freak, now I was obsessed with food. If it wasn't tied down, I was eating
it. Weddings and cocktail parties were the best. If there was a buffet, I'd eat half of it. Those
people passing around hor dourves never had a chance. I'd hijack them and the trays carrying
calorie-packed treats. I became like Joey Chitwood in a hot dog eating contest, chowing down
food fast and furiously. Perhaps I was having a mid-life crisis. If that was the case, food was
my new Ferrari.
I didn't care, I loved it. I had always been a pretty healthy eater but that went out the window
with my stint on the disabled list. Ring-Dings, Cherry Garcia, and pizza, oh my. I'd go to the
Shell station on my way to work and pick up a Choco-Taco, a Drumstik, and a Good Humor Chocolate Eclair for the ride.
On the way home I'd hit the Wendy's late night drive-thru and order up a chicken sandwich,
a double-cheeseburger, and fries. And I'd do what every overweight, food-obsessed person who
is in denial, does. I'd wash it down with a large diet coke. Like the diet part of the drink matters
after you blasted your body with 1,200 calories of artery-clogging fast food.
Trouble loomed over the horizon with my weight and vanishing Vicodin. My prescription was
just about done and I had to make the decision whether or not to tell my doctor I couldn't tolerate
the pain and ask him to refill my scrip. I had visions of becoming addicted like Favre did and hallucinating all over the place. I passed on the refill figuring my fascination with food would help me overcome the pain. It did.
However, I was paying the price. My waistline was exploding quicker than C.C. Sabathia's and I bypassed a double-chin and went straight to number three. But at 6'3", I could carry the extra
weight, or so I told myself. As for that scale in my bathroom? Well, let's just say it had become
the extra large white elephant in the room, and it was thinner than I was. No way I was getting
on that thing. I didn't want to face reality, even though that came in my failure to get into any
of my dress pants. My jeans were my safe haven, the one thing that didn't reject me or shout out
that I was turning into a fat tub-of-goo.
But I was. I was getting extra large and wasn't in charge of my eating habits. I was out of control.
On December 1st, I finally stepped on the scale and it wasn't pretty. Remember "Groundhog Day" where the clock turns over from 5:59 to 6:00 everyday? I stepped on the scale and it was teetering
on 249lbs. 249lbs! The only thing more shocking was seeing it turn over to 250. There it was. 250 pounds. Never in my life did I think I'd see that number below me.
My manager in the minor-leagues, Gary Allenson, bet me $500 that I'd be 250 when I was 40 years old. He was six years off. I went to the doctor for a physical and the news was not good. My cholesterol shot up to 296. Even my good cholesterol was bad.
Was it a wake-up call? Absolutely. That and the fact that my mom nicknamed me "Shamu." But for the first time in my life, I had lost some of my drive to work out. I'd lose a few pounds here, a lose
a few pounds there, but I was closer to 250 than 240.
I signed up for a half-ironman on September 11th, hoping it'd be the kick in the butt I need. I'm getting there, but at 47 now, the metabolism rate has slowed down a lot. There will be no Jenny
I need to do this on my own.