by Josh Adams
NEWARK- The realization of how far my weight gain hit me like a ton of bricks when I stared at the picture of me and my stepson after watching the Blue Man Group last January.
Now I have always been a big guy. I’m guilty as charged for enjoying a Chinese buffet or a trip to Five Guys for sure. Still, this picture stuck with me and bothered me. Maybe it’s because I had a new family with a kid that looked up to me. Or the trip to the doctor where I couldn’t look at the scale and pretended that I didn’t see the “3” as she was writing down my weight on my chart. I was breathing horribly and getting winded just climbing the stairs on the walk up to my apartment. 3x shirts were starting to feel a little tight. At this point, I decided to join a gym and attempt to get this thing under control.
I started with the things I could control. No late night eating after 9PM. I exchanged soda for La Croix. I hit the gym 4-5 times a week, always on my off days from work and sometimes late night (if you want to see the underbelly of Manhattan, go to Planet Fitness next to the Garden at 3AM). I would have two eggs with wheat bread for lunch and a salad for dinner 6 days a week. Now, I wasn’t perfect. I allowed myself a nice breakfast here and there and damned if Carvel didn’t taste so good when I would take the kid there on a Thursday. But I stuck to this routine and low and behold, it started working. Pounds were coming off slowly and surely and jeans that were a little tight started to get a little roomy. People were starting to notice. I took two of my colleagues (Dan Gardella and John Fanta) out to dinner to Carmine’s (not a diet meal at all) in June and they both commented on my apperance. Damned if that didn’t feel good. By the time October rolled around, I lost 70 pounds.
The funny thing though is that I really just wanted to tell one person and get their approval of what I’ve done. It’s a guy I know a little bit from interviewing him but it’s not like we’re friends. We all know his story though. It was Myles Powell. Up until this year where his overall stellar career has done the talking, the narriative about him was his dramatic weight loss during his freshman year. There would always be the before and after weight loss picture on TV during games. I can’t imagine having my picture when I was at my heaviest weight being broadcast to the masses but Myles dedicated himself to getting into the gym, cutting down on the junk food and making himself into the All-American player that he is today.
My hypothesis on why this was important to me to tell Powell about this was that I wanted to have some sort of kinship with him. Though our age, background and career arc are totally different, I thought this would be a moment where we could bond over something. As player and sportswriter, you’re always in the same orbit but totally different planets. As I’ve talked with Myles throughout the years, I was always struck by how nice and sincere he was. He has an easygoing aura and it’s no surprise why his teammates and Kevin Willard admire him.
At the Big East Media Day in October Powell was swarmed by reporters as he was selected to be the preseason Player of the Year for the conference. I bided my time with interviewing other players and coaches and waited for the seas to part so I could talk with him one and one. Finally when the crowd died down, I went up to him at the press table and asked him a few questions about the upcoming season. Then I told him that I was inspired by him a little bit to drop a few pounds. He looked at me and smiled and said “It looks like you lost some weight. How much did you lose?” I told him smiling that i had him beat in offseason training and lost 70. He laughed, stood up, gave me a pound and said “70! Wow. That’s what’s up!”
Damn if that didn’t feel good.
I’m happy to report that’s it March and all the preseaon predictions for Seton Hall and Powell have come true and I’ve made it through countless pressroom junk food offerings without being tempted (I’m actually down about 80 now). Again, Myles Powell and I couldn’t have less in common (besides killer jump shots) but for that moment in October I really do appreciate the kind of guy he is. Athletes like him don’t come along that often but damn if they’re not remembered forever for not just what they do on the court but the example they set off of it.