So I’m going to talk about a topic that a lot of men don’t like to talk about. A struggle with weight. Particularly mine. This isn’t a sad story where I need your sympathy, but just a story that yes, men do struggle with weight and their bodies.
For the most part of my adult baseball career, all I can remember is basically being on some weight loss/gain program despite my weight never getting in the way of my performance on the field. Let’s start at the start when apparently I first had a weight problem.
I was 16, and weighed about 88kgs, and was closing in on 6’ tall. I thought I was healthy. But the institute of sport I was with decided that I needed to lose weight. So my workouts became all cardio as I prepared for the U18 National Championships. In the two months before the tournament I was jogging, sprinting, rowing, cycling, agility work all to get myself in shape. Thanks to all that I lost 4kg. I went to the national championships and pitched well enough to get signed by the Phillies.
Let’s jump ahead two years, when I was 18 and 6’1, to my first offseason with the Phillies. They told me to go put on some weight in the offseason. I didn’t know what that meant. I had never had real guidance to strength and conditioning. I thought they just wanted me to be bigger so after ending the season at 90kg I turned up to camp in 2010 weighing 104kg. Thought they did what I asked but turns out I turned up to camp out of shape. Which I was. Whoops. My body fat percentage was hovering around 23% which was a teeny bit high. Long story short. The Phillies released me and I went home.
When I got home I got told, I need to lose weight if I want to get another chance because it will show teams that I worked hard for second opportunity. Well here we go. I had found my way onto the roster of the MLB Australian Academy. Which was an eight week training camp for Australia’s best young baseball players. That was my goal. Prepare for that. So, first day in the gym I weighed 104kg, nine weeks later before leaving for the MLB Academy I weighed 87kg. Now that’s not a very healthy rate of weight loss. I only ate two small meals a day. And only drank water. I would feel guilty if I didn’t go to the gym during the day. Sometimes I would go twice a day because I didn’t feel like I did enough in the first session. This is how my sessions went. One hour cardio, one hour workout, one hour cardio. Another long story short, I went to the Academy and pitched well enough for the Twins to sign me.
Now, I thought losing weight was good. It’s what people wanted me to do but now I was getting to the point of it being unhealthy. When I came home from the academy I continued to lose weight and the lowest I got down to was 80kg. Once again, I thought this is what people wanted. Me to lose weight. After all losing weight is what made people notice me and good things had come from it!
Now we are about to head into the first ABL season in the Australian summer of 2010/11 and do you know what someone tells me the first day of training? Hey man, you really need to put on some weight, you’re too skinny… my mind was blown but well, they said I needed to put on weight so here we go again. I went home and had the largest bowl of pasta because I had neglected food like that for so long. I didn’t feel guilty anymore for eating a huge bowl of carbs since I’m doing what someone told me to do! Put on weight. Well before the ABL season began I was able to put on 5kg to get up to 85kg. Sorry for all the numbers, this might be tough to keep up with.
Let’s get to the 2011 MiLB season. I turned up to camp weighing 90kg. And by the end of the season I was back up to 97kg. Those Taco Bell $5 boxes will catch up to you. Once again, I didn’t think I was overall a big guy but… sometimes someone makes a comment to you and it kind of sticks. I made the Australian team to play at the 2011 Baseball World Cup in Panama. The youngest guy on the squad. One day I was sitting down in the dugout and someone poked my stomach and said “geez, you’re getting fat again”. I was just like man, I’m not that fat.
Let’s fast forward a few years. I hovered around the 98kg-102kg mark for awhile. I didn’t try and lose weight or gain weight because I was very happy pitching in that condition. I felt strong and fit and made it work. But nonetheless I still worked hard each offseason in a small shed with a few weights at my home field to try and turn up to spring training camp in better shape than I left in the previous season. In 2017 I turned up to camp working hard all offseason to try and put on muscle. Guess it didn’t work, because before I was about to run one of the conditioning tests I asked a strength coach if they knew my body fat. This is how the conversation went…
“Do you know what my body fat percentage was?”
“What was it?”
“Fat as f**k”
Now you probably think I’m soft and weak for this but it hurt when I found that out after putting in so much work in the offseason. I said “oh man, I worked really hard this offseason”. And it showed. I passed all the conditioning tests but for some reason being “Fat as f**k” is all that mattered. Mind you. I was 98kg, and my body fat was 17%. So I’m fat at baseball, but acceptable in the real world. That was a pretty rock bottom moment in regards to my weight battle.
So we are in 2019 and I get released by the Padres in spring training and kinda went on a little downward spiral and just ate my feelings away. And my weight went up to 106kg. I was making thick shakes daily and always getting double meat on my chipotle and drinking the sweetest drinks from Starbucks. I went onto sign with the St. Paul Saints and kinda hovered around 104-106kg all season there. Don’t ask me how I got my girlfriend to like me looking like that, because even I still don’t know. I was pretty heavy, but unlike when I was 19 and weighed 104kg this body had a little bit more muscle on it. So not good, but not all bad.
And now let’s get to the highest I ever weighed. 2020, what a year right? So the Saints decided to release me, and I was in the middle of a tough and stressful ABL season and once again… just ate everything. When the season ended I weighed 109.5. Yep. 109.5kg. People would call me fat all the time and I would just laugh it off calling it my “Velo belt” and things like “mass equaled gas”. I told myself I’ve had enough and I’m getting a gym membership instead of working out in the shed at the field that had weights in it. I invested the money, so was going to make the most of it. I enjoyed going back and slowly the weight started to come off. Then bam… COVID hits! Now the gym I was enjoying was taken away from me and I had to find motivation at home to lose weight. I bought gym equipment and was in my backyard 5-6 days a week working out. I admit it’s unhealthy that I step on the scales everyday, but I just need the justification that the work I’m putting in is paying off. It’s a tough battle and I can definitely sympathise with anyone that has body issues. It isn’t fun. I weigh myself before bed, so I can guesstimate how much I’ll weigh in the morning. I weigh myself in the morning so I know how much harder or longer I need to be in the gym that day to weigh less than I did yesterday. I weigh myself when I get done at the gym and that’s the weight I record I have on my phone.
As of today, I weigh 102.6kg. My body fat is 16.6%. Which I keep telling myself is good. I eat healthy everyday and only treat myself once a week and even though I feel guilty that I did that, people tell me I have to do it or I’ll go crazy. So, from now on, here’s to being physically and mentally healthy, and enjoying a bit of ice cream from time to time without thinking it will haunt me the next day.