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MLB Stars And The Weight Loss Lessons They Taught Us

When we look at the money involved in the modern MLB, the plates have never been stacked higher for players. $100m contracts are now becoming somewhat commonplace. Aaron Judge will be looking at an eight-year deal in excess of $300m whether he remains a Yankee or not, and pundits are speculating Shohei Ohtani’s salary will leap from $5.5m per season to perhaps ten times that when he hits free agency in 2024.

Of course, bulging pockets rely on peak performance, which can’t be achieved with bulging waistlines. While the biggest of hitters can get away with carrying some heft behind their bat, that might not be true for most of us. Good weight management can help us avoid injury – sporting or not – and perhaps save us money on healthcare; the obesity crisis in the US isn’t doing insurance premiums any favors. Witness the story of Walter Young – at 320lbs, he could certainly boom a ball – but the Baltimore designated hitter only lasted 14 games in the majors and sadly passed from a heart attack age 35.

Let’s have a look at a pair of pros who’ve pruned a little timber.

MLB Stars And The Weight Loss Lessons They Taught Us

CC Sabathia

CC entered the league as the youngest rookie pitcher in MLB, aged only 20 when he first took the mound for the Cleveland Indians. He was also one of the biggest at 6’6 and around 280lbs. Still, it seemed to do no harm to the budding talent, who finished second in the Rookie of The Year Awards. Over a 19-year career, CC admits he didn’t eat right and would grab ‘whatever was available’ on long days on the road. It started to show, and by 2015 the now-Yankee was clocking in at over 305lbs. Knee and shoulder complaints began to rear their ugly heads.

2018 nearly brought catastrophe, as during a session with his trainer, he couldn’t make it through a stress test. A hospital visit revealed a blockage on a heart artery, and a stent was fitted. After retiring in 2020, CC moved on to a ketogenic diet and lost 25lbs, accompanying it with a gruelling workout schedule. However, he found it hard to maintain, particularly without having gameday action as a motivator; he’s now switched to the Mediterranean diet. Good weight loss programs are tailored to the individual, their needs, tastes and lifestyle; that’s one thing when you’re an athlete under the tutelage of a cadre of coaches and trainers, but perhaps less compatible for the busy working person. Now that he has a strenuous schedule as special assistant to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, CC is thriving under his new regimen, telling Men’s Health, “I feel better. I feel like this is sustainable. I feel like when I was doing no carbs, it was a lot harder just to find food, but to be able to switch to this feels good.” Between his easier-to-manage weight control and catching the golf bug, CC’s lost another 35lbs – and kept it off.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr

At the other end of his career, Vladimir Guerrero Jr is only 23 but has taken his weight seriously from (almost) the start. After a somewhat disappointing rookie season – to put that into context, he did sign a $3.9m contract for Toronto at just 16 years old – he got serious about his shape. Having lost 42lbs over the shortened 2020 season, he’s made the All-Star Game in both 2021 and 2022. He’s taken both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards and, on September 14th this year, became the youngest Blue Jay ever to hit 100 home runs. At 6’2 and 239lbs, he’s still a powerful athlete. However, he learned to avoid ’emotional eating’, doesn’t snack at night and has cut out alcohol.

According to the New York Times, Vladdy told reporters, “One day, I woke up from bed, looked in the mirror and said, ‘That’s it”. It’s likely we’ve all said that; however, it’s the doing it that counts. His trainer, Junior Rodriguez, revealed he explained to Guerrero, “Let’s commit to this; I’ll commit to you and you to me. I don’t want this just for 2021, but forever”. Forever would mean most likely joining his father in Cooperstown, NY, at The National Baseball Hall of Fame.

We may not all have such lofty goals to shoot for. We all have different, demanding lifestyles. However, keeping one’s eyes on the prize comes in different shapes, even for a pair of pro ballers. 2023 could be the year to hit it out of the park.


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