Chasing Misery (and obesity)

A lot of times people want to look at one single event and go “A-ha, I can fix that”.

I started dieting in my early 30’s, the first one I just wanted to lose 10 pounds but let’s be real, 185 was the weight I thought I lived at but that was the weight when I actually did something or mixed in a salad. 

The reality was I was 190-195 a lot (when I wasn’t giving myself a line of bullshit like it didn’t matter).

It mattered a lot, you could see it in my face, so I started to avoid pictures altogether, until I couldn’t…..

At right about the same time poker was becoming very popular. 

I was pretty good but hardly great. At the time I came up in poker everyone was old, I was the youngest by far.

While I don’t think I ever had a net negative year it was a grind and I lived by a set of rules that didn’t feel right.

That all changed with tournament poker and specifically online tournaments.

I had always dreamed of playing in the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour was in its first year. So I decided to deposit on a site that had WPT qualifiers for Aruba and won my very first shot.

Before I showed up in Aruba I had won two more turning that $300 into $20,000 within a week.

Something just clicked for me and the next 6-8 years would have me traveling the world playing in poker tournaments.

A dream come true right?

Remember those cameras I was avoiding? You can’t avoid cameras when being filmed literally all of the time.

That summer I went deep in the WSOP and I was horrified when I saw my pictures. Could it really be that bad?

It was….

And it would get a lot worse.

By the time I was 38 it was time for a change.

That whole time I was showering my wife with VERY elaborate gifts.

I needed the world to know we were successful, that we had made it.

My wife could have cared less, most of those gifts have either been sold or are gathering dust somewhere.

I guess I was also buying time (and what I thought was love). What started as a goal to lose 10 pounds at 185 occasionally turned into a need to lose a lot more weighing in at 255 pounds.

I was officially obese and what was worse is that I was very unhealthy.

This will surprise no one but gambling for large amounts of money is stressful.

In fact I was miserable a lot. When I say miserable I mean clinically depressed.

By 2008 a few worlds aligned and I decided to take a break from poker. The dream had become a nightmare and I was fairly certain if I continued with that lifestyle I would be dead soon.

For about 8 years I was on and off every diet possible. In that time I lost 50, 75 and 100 pounds (the last one became Eat To Perform and stuck).

What I found was that THINGS were just a shortcut, they don’t actually BUY you happiness. Money is nice but when you are miserable it masks a lot of problems.

Problems that needed to be solved.

My wife and I bought a trainer that would come to our house. I switched late nights playing poker for early mornings with Tony.

I remember the first snack I switched to was dark chocolate edamame from Trader Joe’s (which was a much better choice than what I was eating).

I also became more aware of hunger signalling and made meals a priority.

That first year I was mostly pretending but I had enough success that I kept going.

I was also losing that miserable feeling.

But I had no income coming in to speak of but I was happy and my wife seemed more content.

Then I got a phone call asking me if I wanted to sell That site was supposed to be my ticket out, the one last thing I got from poker.

Selling it would mean that dream needed to die, it was a difficult decision but something told me that if I kept going in that direction I was chasing the wrong dream.

Selling Bluff basically ended that period of my life and chasing fitness started a whole new life.

By 39 I was fit. While Eat To Perform brought a whole new set of problems. They were problems where I was part of something bigger than just me.

I basically didn’t play a hand of poker until recently with the COVID outbreak. 

Within weeks I was miserable again.

I wished my friends well (many of whom are still great friends to this day) but that is just not a life for me. 

To be clear losing money wasn’t what made me miserable, I was actually a big winner.

But when you are winning chasing the wrong dream it often manifests itself in ways that aren’t healthy and don’t contribute to a meaningful life.

At least that was the case for me.

All of this is to say, if you are miserable, can’t sleep and overweight your problems might be deeper than just eating fewer calories.

It was and still is for me.