He stopped by Taco Bell so often the employees knew his $20 order by heart. Some days he went twice. Over the course of a year, Chuck Carroll estimates he spent $10,000 at the fast-food restaurant.
The only thing surpassing his big expense was the 400-plus pounds he carried on his 5′ 6″ frame.
Today, Carroll, who is a news anchor for NBC Radio, is 265 pounds lighter—and thriving. He recently enrolled at Montgomery College because he wanted to study nutrition.
“I want to get a formal education so I can talk about it intelligently on air and work with people individually as a nutritionist,” Carroll says, adding that he thinks people who are trying to lose weight would benefit from working with someone who has been in their shoes. He says he walked in those shoes for a long time.
“In the earliest pictures I have, I was a pudgy kid. It really started spiraling out of control in high school, and then it got crazy after I graduated.”
In high school, being the “big guy” was not easy. “I felt like I had never had a chance with the ladies. I would have these little connections with the girls, but I could never muster up the confidence to ask them out.
I know that’s tough for any teen, but especially with low self-confidence about my physical appearance….”
After graduation, Carroll moved briefly to New York to live with his father and stepmother. He put on a lot of weight and says his family was eating “huge, out of control portions.”
Returning to the DC metro area and weighing more than 300 pounds, Carroll began a career in radio, eventually making his way to BIG 100, Washington’s Classic Rock station. “I started to justify my weight as part of my personality.” At events, he was introduced as “Big Chuck from BIG 100.”
Carroll started dating someone at the station—his first real girlfriend—but it did not last.
“I thought she was awesome, but she did not want to tell anybody that we were dating. That hurt. I knew it wasn’t normal to be hidden like that. But I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my physical appearance so I thought, ‘that’s as good as it is going to get.’”
At one point, Carroll lost 70 pounds on the cookie diet—cookies he says tasted like a “cross between rubber and cardboard.”
As soon as he stopped the diet, he gained all the weight back and then some, which wreaked havoc on his back and knees.
“I could not walk across the street without getting severely out of breath, to the point where my chest would tighten. I was sweating profusely, and I was only 25 or 26 years old.”
At one of his trips to Taco Bell, Carroll gave his order to a new employee. She replied, “You eat too much.” Carroll spun a story about buying the meals for other people, but admits the comment really stung.
Soon after, afraid he might not live to see age 30, Carroll decided to undergo weight loss surgery.
“I was a full blown food addict,” Carroll says. “Leading up to surgery, I was already scheming. Let’s see, after surgery, I can go back to eating this, I can eat what I want.”
The recovery from surgery was very painful, but something clicked. He could not go back to his old habits.
Carroll says his addiction is still very much present. “They can re-route your intestines, but they can never rework your brain. I just changed my addiction. I will gleefully tell you I am addicted to healthy foods. I used the addictive part of my personality in my favor.”
Because he has an addiction, he makes no exceptions to his new healthy eating routine (see Chuck’s Daily Diet below). Not one potato chip, not one cookie, not one taco.
And not one trip to the gym. During his post-surgery weight loss journey, he has never walked into a gym. He had joined gyms before, but would go for a while and then quit. He wanted this time to be different.
At work, after the surgery, Carroll arranged a 90-minute lunch break, using every minute to walk. “At first, I could barely get across the street. Then I could walk around the block. Then two blocks.”
He progressed to a five-mile walk every day—and was religious about his commitment.
“Blazing hot, freezing cold, pouring rain. No matter what the weather, I walked. I was like a mailman; sleet, snow….”
He says the little things make a huge difference—taking the stairs, not the elevator; parking as far from his destination as possible. At one job, Carroll figured if he parked in the last spot, it meant an extra mile. “Over a year,” he says, “that’s 50 miles.”
Now seven years post-surgery, Carroll combines his professional career in radio and journalism with his passion for healthy living. In addition to his work on the radio, he runs a website called—appropriately—theweightlosschampion.com and contributes articles about nutrition to DC Refined, Washington’s online lifestyle and culture magazine.
He is also making a name for himself around the Montgomery College campus. Keith Elphick, professor of English, says Carroll impressed him from the start in Critical Reading, Writing, and Research at Work. “He asked pertinent rhetorical questions and started the writing process early. Chuck understands how valuable communication skills are in the real world, so he works hard in all endeavors to polish his rhetorical skills.”
Carroll’s future clients will appreciate his communication skills and his endless enthusiasm.
“I realize my passion is talking about nutrition and inspiring other people. Nothing would make me happier.”
Chuck’s Daily Diet
Breakfast: Mixed fruit with plain yogurt, no sugar added
Lunch: Lean protein like chicken* and vegetables. He eats every three hours, even if he is not hungry. For his busy schedule, going between class and work, he says snacks are “supercritical.”
Dinner: A salad made of kale and spinach, red pepper, and carrots. (He will add chicken or another lean protein if he is very hungry). “It is a beautiful salad with all sort of colors. That’s heaven to me,” he says. He also has half a piece of pita bread and hummus.
Snacks: Nuts or an apple, banana, or carrots. Sometimes both.
*He eats no red meat or pork