How does one go from making daily (sometimes twice daily) trips to Taco Bell for the “usual” $20 order of tacos, chips, burritos and whatever else is in the bag, reach 420 pounds on the scale, expand to a 66 inch waist, frustrated with how life turned out to becoming a trim and fit weight (270 pounds lighter), being recognized as one of the most popular podcast hosts on the topic of plant based lifestyle as well as an in-demand podcast guest on other lifestyle and plant based/vegan shows, with no end in sight.
An impossibility to some. A reality to Chuck Carroll.
Ten years ago, Chuck Carroll, aka The Weight Loss Champion, had resigned himself to a life of frustration, impending disease, loneliness, lack of vitality and the man known to have tried virtually every diet that was the flavor of the month.
In hindsight, he recognizes his upbringing was a contributing factor in his weight as were his unhealthy habits that built over time.
Growing up eating either fast food or grandma’s cooking, Chuck developed food issues from a young age.
“Grandma cooked everything on the stove and always added a couple of scoops of bacon grease. It really didn’t matter what it was. She could be making macaroni and cheese or putting on a pot of coffee and the bacon grease was there,” Chuck reveals.
Struggling in his personal life, professionally, he was able to make the weight work for him. Chuck had the perfect job for his “persona.” As a popular DJ at BIG 100, Washington’s Classic Rock station, Chuck was able to hide his pain behind the mic. Playing off the fact he was Big Chuck, weight came with the territory.
Yet, underneath lingered a young boy who knew things needed to change. Chucks first memory of wanting to diet was when he was only 8 years old. When the words slipped from his mouth, “I need to go on a diet,” his fate was sealed.
From the 3rd grade, he had an on again, off again relationship with food. Feast or famine. By the time he reached high school, he was obese, frustrated and headed for a life of meds starting with blood pressure medication when he was just a sophomore in high school as part of his daily protocol.
“I tried every diet known to man. I would get the prepackaged programs where you would buy a bunch of meals and then you would get that gym membership to go with it. It would go well for a few weeks, maybe even a month, and I’d be feeling good. Then inevitably all the wheels would fall off and I’d be right back to ground zero because I put the weight back on and then some.”
Death by a Thousand Paper-cuts
No one ends up on a path of destruction by chance. It happens over time. Whether it be the destruction of drugs, alcohol, overspending, or food addictions, it’s one action on top of another.
Desperate for an answer, Chuck had several back-to-back experiences he describes as forks in the road that when we take one road, we continue to self-destruct or, we take the other road to a life of recovery.
Chuck believes that we come to the fork in the road with an opportunity for lifechanging decisions based on “death by a thousand paper cuts.” The papercuts are the experiences that penetrate our mind, body, and soul.
The death is the realization that you have a serious problem that is forcing the admission something MUST change.
The hardest thing in the world is to admit that you do, in fact, have a problem that is going to put you in an early grave.
“One of the most difficult aspects for many people who know they need to change their eating is the addiction to food. As real, and difficult, as addiction to drugs and alcohol, food addictions are not as clear cut as other substances,” Chuck admits.
A Regular at the Local Taco Bell
“Hey Chuck, how you doing today?” was the usual greeting Chuck received when he went to his local Taco Bell for his standard $20 order.
“It got to the point they would see my car and have my order ready by the time I got to the counter.” Smiling on the outside, Chuck was dying on the inside.
It was the realization that he could not lie to himself any longer about the rush he got in the short term when he gave into his addiction for a fast-food fix. This was one of his most evident papercuts.
Then the paper cuts came one after another. Angry, irritable, and not the nicest guy around, Chuck got to the point he was so filled with rage about his weight and lack of control he would punch holes in the wall. When that didn’t make him feel better, he would punch in the door.
He had lost his ability to control his cravings for food at the most inopportune times. More times than he can recall he would sneak out in the middle of the night to head to a 24 hour drive through. He would get his “fix,” bring it home and eat every last morsel.
The next paper cut came when he was dating a woman who didn’t want anyone to know they were seeing each other.
“I knew she was embarrassed of my size. She didn’t want her friends and family to know about us, but worse, she didn’t want me to tell my family.”
A flight from San Francisco to the East Coast was the next paper-cut. Dreading the seat would be too small for him, the embarrassment of walking down the aisle to his seat was beyond words. Not only was the seat incredibly uncomfortable, he needed a seat belt extender to accommodate his size.
“I could feel the eyes of disgust on me as I walked from the front of the plane to the back only to discover I needed to walk back to the front to get a belt extender.”
Having reached his heaviest weight of 420 pounds, he was resigned to the fact that he was destined to get punched in the gut day after day from his own self loathing and the awkward stares from complete strangers.
Chuck hit his breaking point at the age of 27. Deciding the only way to get control was bariatric surgery he was ready to literally cut the problem out. He figured this was it. If this didn’t work, nothing would.
Surgery Was a Turning Point
Finally, something worked. For several years after the surgery, he was very careful about what he put into his mouth.
Although there are those who felt the surgery was a crutch, Chuck is adamant about the fact, when you’re morbidly obese, it’s about picking a protocol that works for you. It’s about losing the weight to get it under control.
Several years after the surgery, Chuck had started his own sports media company. He was interviewing a professional wrestler by the name of Austin Areas. Austin had just released his book, Food Fight: My Plant Powered Journey Through Bingo Halls to the Big Time.
The Ultimate Solution was a Plant-Based Diet
Although Chuck lost a considerable amount of weight due to the surgery and eating a more sensible diet, meeting Austin was the greatest turning point of his life. Until he met Austin, he’d never given much thought to a plant-based diet.
Austin was a full-fledged vegan. No meat, no dairy. All plants.
He told Chuck he would do better with his weight loss and maintenance by going plant-based. A skeptics skeptic, Austin said, “Watch the documentary Forks Over Knives, then let’s talk.”
By the time the film was over, Chuck had sworn off meat and dairy. Since that time, he has been 100% plant based, impacting people around the globe.
Julie, His Soul Mate, Shares His Journey
Sharing the plant-based journey with his wife Julie, they are both committed to raising awareness around health, compassion to animals and overall kindness.
“Julie is definitely in this due to the health benefits and compassion to animals. It’s been a life changer for both of us.”
Feeling like his life is more of a dream come true than he could have ever imagined.
Chuck Carroll is rarely without a smile on his face. And what’s not to smile about. A wife he adores as much as she adores and loves him, the host of the Physicians Committee’s uber popular “The Exam Room” podcast, a guy known as The Weight Loss Champion, a name given to him by an NFL player for losing 275 pounds, and the ability to influence people around the globe.
Chuck is definitely a force to be reckoned with. He’s on a road like very few people would ever dare travel. A welcome voice and face to people around the globe, Chuck has interviewed the who’s who of the Plant Based world. Guests that he counts among his dearest of friends.
His life is a far cry from when, at just 5 feet 6 inches tall, Chuck weighed 420 pounds and had a 66-inch waist, was making constant runs to Taco Bell for his fix, desperate for something to change. And change it has.
If you look up the word inspiration in the dictionary, you’re likely to see Chuck Carroll’s picture next to it.