Residence: Philadelphia, PA
Starting Weight: 290 lbs
Current Weight: 205 lbs
Total Pounds Lost: 85 lbs
Starting Body Fat: 35%
Current Body Fat: 16%
If you were a jock in high school, especially a lineman in football, you’re likely familiar with the scenario: Your team needs you to be “the big guy,” to help block, protect the quarterback, or bust through the line, so you sweat and swear your way through two-a-days and lift lots of heavy iron, and—to keep up your weight—get used to downing mass quantities of food. Then high school, along with that constant exercise, ends, but you kept stuffing your face full of the same high levels of calories…
That’s exactly what happened to former high school football player Tyler Rice, of Philadelphia. After a few years, he noticed that a creeping horror of flabbiness had slowly enveloped his body—a spare tire or two around his waist, a thick cushion of fat puffing out his chest. Finally, one day in 2013, he decided to face the truth and step on a scale: “I saw the number and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m close to 300 pounds. This is a problem.’”
Here he talks about what came next.
Men’s Fitness: How did you get up to 290?
I was always a little chubby, but after I quit playing football in high school, I not only kept eating way more than I should, I also ate a lot of unhealthy foods, fast foods, like Taco Bell’s Grilled Stuft Burritos.
I did make half-hearted attempts to lose weight, but nothing stuck because I wasn’t really ready to make the change.
Men’s Fitness: Had you been exercising at all?
I’d lift weights and probably do a little bit of cardio. But, you know, if you do 20 minutes of cardio then go eat 6,000 calories, you’re just wasting your time.
But I had a decent amount of muscle tone on me, so to the casual eye I probably didn’t look 290. I held my weight very well—but make no mistake, I was severely overweight.
Men’s Fitness: When did you first realize you’d put on so much weight and needed to do something about it?
I was on winter break from Rutgers University, and I stepped on a scale for the first time in a while, probably.
I’m not sure why, but in that moment something just clicked, and I knew the time to change was today and not tomorrow. That’s when it all started rolling for me.
Men’s Fitness: What did you do once you decided to get serious?
Mainly, I focused on making changes in my diet. No. 1 was monitoring what I put in my body, using portion control and counting calories. Basically, losing and gaining weight—it’s just mass at the end of the day. If you burn more calories than you eat, you’ll lose.
I also eliminated all the unhealthy foods I was eating.
Men’s Fitness: How many calories did you eat?
When I started, I was eating around 3,000 calories a day, so I cut that to 2,500. That daily 500-calorie deficit added up to 3,500 calories a week, so I’d lose about a pound. Now I’m at about 2,000.
Men’s Fitness: What about working out—did you get a trainer?
No, I’d learned lifting fundamentals when I played ball, so I stuck with the same weight-training schedule. But I did up my cardio from twice to four times a week.
Men’s Fitness: Are you happy with your weight now?
I’ve been about 205 since last February, so I’d still like to lose 10 to 15 more, to get closer to my goal of 12% body fat.
Men’s Fitness: In the end, what do you think was the secret to your success?
When it’s 10 at night and you’re craving chocolate or something sweet, you need to want the change more than you want the food.
Taking that first stand is hard, but the second time is easier. You might not always triumph, but over time your willpower will get stronger, good habits will form, and that success will motivate you even more.
But the desire needs to come from within—I can’t stress that enough.