failure to cut it or how i lost 30 pounds but learned a lot


When I was a junior in Hight School I declared that I would win the 112 pound state championship in wrestling. So, starting that summer I became at first singularly focused, and then completely consumed with putting that medal around my neck in February. I went to camp, ran sprints all summer, I joined the cross country team to keep my weight down, I did drills in front of the TV every night, the same move hundreds and hundreds of times until I would NEVER have to think about how to do that move again. At times I felt like I was fitting wrestling into my life, as I was fitting my life into wrestling. Then something peculiar happened, I grew. 

I lost the weight, the season started, I began winning, sometimes beating my opponents so fast my coach would make me take them down and let them up over and over until I got a Technical Pin, just to stretch the match time. I was ranked 2nd in the state, things were good, until they weren’t. 

Over the 4 months leading up to and in the beginning of the season I had grown 5 inches and was now near 5’11 and having to cut to 112 pounds. 

Every morning now I would wake up at 5AM, my heat had been on for 45 minutes bringing my room to 83 degrees. I pulled spandex, fleece and down over my frail body and got on the exercise bike for 1 hour. Breakfast was Special K, no milk, lunch 3 slices of turkey cold cuts. Then off to practice, 3 hours of drill work and scratch matches, dinner grilled chicken breast. Next to the gym to do a sauna workout, finally home to fall asleep before I could realize how hungry I was. I was working myself to death, but I was winning. 

Running up to the Area and State Championships coaches stopped letting their kids wrestle me, there I was gaunt, starving, pacing around our gym only to be told it was for naught, I wouldn’t be wrestling that night.

Truth is I was barely holding it together. I used to put a piece of chocolate in my mouth, just to taste it and then spit it out. I would do this in a locked bathroom. I was losing teeth, 2 during a match and one more after the season (I ended up with 26 cavities). Malnutrition was ravaging my body, but I was winning. 

Until one Wednesday afternoon when my coach peeked his head into my english class and asked to see me, they were pulling the plug he said. School said what I was doing was too dangerous, people were talking, doctors had been consulted. My body fat test came back as inconclusive. Two weeks from me wrestling for the state championship, I was told I had to jump 2 weight classes to 125. 

I don’t even know how I lost my matches at area, I was sick, depressed and all I know is I did not even make it to state. After I lost my elimination match, I brushed off the comfort of my coach and left the hot, oxygen starved gym into the crisp Northern Georgia winter. I then promptly sat against a wall and let waves of tears fall from me. Huge racking sobs so uncontrollable I had to lay my face down. 

As I lay weeping I thought about everything I had been through everything I had given up, not eating for months, the 3-a-day work outs, the thousands of drills, the torn rotator cuff, skipped family vacations. I felt the unique pain of giving your whole self to a goal only to see it sail slowly away from you. 

After five minutes of self pity I stood up, sweat now dying and making me shiver and as I pushed back into that same gym I had a vision of myself next year, and you know what, I was winning.

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    I remember this day vividly, to see your child’s dreams crushed (at that point in his life - it seemed like everything)....
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