“My table wants to see you.”

In 2009, I was promoted to managing partner for an Italian restaurant in Maitland, FL. I was a long time chef there and finally had my chance to shine as the big boss.

I also made the decision to lose weight. I was over 400 pounds for most of my career there. Then in 2008 I made the decision to lose weight. I lost over 220 pounds.

When the server told me that a table wanted to see me it did not seem like a big deal. I was sure that the food was cold or the service was slow. It rarely was a fun conversation but necessary.

When I looked at the table that wanted to see me I noticed that I recognized the guy. It was Marc Mero. I saw him in the restaurant numerous times. He is kind of a local celebrity.

Marc was a wrestler for many years. Growing up in North Carolina, I have met a few wrestlers. Ric Flair once threw a piece of chicken at me when I cooked it wrong. Ricky Steamboat once flipped me off on the road. Oh yeah, both members of the Rock N Roll Express called me “Porky” when they came to speak to my middle school class.

So honestly, I had a preconceived idea of wrestlers. Except for Dusty Rhodes. He truly was the nicest man I ever met.

I knew that Marc was a motivational speaker and had a non-profit organization to help kids. He was always on the morning radio show with Russ Rollins that I listened to every morning. He talked about how he changed his life around and wanted to help others.

When I went to the table Marc put out his hand to shake mine. So I did. Then he asked me to sit down. So I sat down next to his beautiful wife (or fiancé…not sure what she was at the time).

He looked at me and said, “You lost a lot of weight, didn’t you?”

I smiled and told him yes. He then looked at me and asked me why.

At the time, no one ever asked me why, they asked me how. I had an answer for that. I explained that I joined Weight Watchers, I ate less, I worked out, and it worked.

“Why” was a different word.

I did not write then. I did not have Facebook. My blog only had a few posts, most of them updates. So I thought about it.

The natural answer was for my wife. Truthfully, I knew she wanted me to lose weight. She wanted me to be around for a long time. She wanted to build a family with me, but that is not so easy when you are morbidly obese.

The hard answer was that I deserved better.

I deserved to walk into a room with confidence.
I deserved to not sweat in a 71-degree room.
I deserved to be able to wipe my ass in the bathroom.

That was not the answer I gave Marc. After thinking about it for a little bit, I looked at him and said…

“I deserved better.”

He smiled and asked me if it was hard. I told him it was very hard. I told him that I looked at food differently than most people. I can eat 10,000 calories of anything. I just like to eat. It does not go away. He asked me if I struggle with it, and I told him all the time.

He then asked if I thought I would gain back the weight.

When someone loses weight they tell you that they will never gain it back. Then they do. Then depression kicks in. Then you look at an old picture where you thought you were fat only to realize you wish you were back there.

I looked at Marc and said that I will gain back weight…but I will never be over 400 pounds again.

We talked for about fifteen minutes. It was an enlightening conversation. He told me about his struggles with drugs and alcohol. He said a little about wrestling and when he does now.

At the end of the conversation, I told him thank you for our chat. He said the same and that I was inspiring.

I heard it a lot. I did not believe it. Most people do not when they are called an inspiration.

I smiled and said, “All I did was lose weight.”

Then Marc shocked me a little bit. He said…

“Listen, I am proud you lost weight, but that is not why I am inspired. Losing weight is a task. Not an easy one but people do it so many ways. I am inspired by the person you are. I am inspired that you made a decision at your worst to change. You know you will struggle, but you realize that struggle is worth it.

Then he put his fingers on my shoulder and said, “you inspire me.”

I never saw Marc again. I quit the restaurant and went to another one.

In the six years since I have seen him I have struggled with my weight but refuse to stop. I have gotten a lot better with my writing, even been published. I have helped people not by giving advice, but by telling my story.

Today I was on Facebook and saw a video by Marc Mero. He was talking to a middle school about his mom, his life, and decisions. The video has been seen over 11 million times.

I cried when I saw it.

Marc Mero has devoted his life to not only helping others…but helping himself.

And it makes me realize how special he is.

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