Updated: Oct 24, 2019
That’s 6 years, 6 months, 24 days: a big number, especially for Adam Brown, whose life has been filled with big number.
Like the writing on a chewing gum wrapper or a pack of cigarettes, you’ve probably seen Adam a thousand times and either didn’t pay attention, or just filed it away in your memory bank.
At our house Adam’s earned the nickname “Walker Dude”. If you drive down Bayshore you’ve probably come up with your own nickname, passing the buff, tanned, shirtless guy that does a fierce walking strut down balustrade with a marine’s thousand-yard stare and the determination of a hungry wolf.
Hungry… that was always Adam’s problem. He’ll tell you… as a kid he was just plain fat; would eat anything. As a high school student, as a college student at UF, he was just plain fat; Up to 305 lbs. on a 5’10” frame at his heaviest. He did make it into a prestigious fraternity, but even his frat brothers would make fun of him in front of girls. A midday meal might be an entire large sized pizza, with two liters of soda and dessert as a chaser.
Sometimes he’d even skip class if he was late: The embarrassment of squeezing his way down the narrow aisle of seats, crumpling himself into the nearest one available, all the while trying to act invisible, was just too much.
After four and a half years in college he had no girlfriend, no degree, “one of the worst GPA’s in UF history”, and no prospects. Dejected, he headed back home to Tampa and took a series of dead-end jobs.
But somewhere along the way, just before he left UF for good, he half-heartedly tried his hand at lifting weights. Nothing serious, just nothing better to do for a supersized college kid with no girlfriend.
When he got home, during a routine physical for his asthma, his doctor noticed Adam had actually lost 13 lbs. Now, for many of us, that much sudden weight loss might be cause for alarm; for Adam, it was… er, once or twice a week. And, hitting the weights; a little, not much.
And then came the unexplained epiphany: May 8, 2000. Adam started his weight-loss ritual in earnest. First, it was 67 days in a row of walking five miles. But a hurricane messed up day 68. So, he started again, and the weight continued coming off, and “everything strated to change.”: Until now the only six pack adam knew came in cans. Now it was staring him in the face.
He decided to go to HCC and then earned a degree in psychology from USF, and couldn’t help notice how differenty everyone treated him. The good looking, muscle guy had dropped to 150! Girls noticed, people in the grocery store would help him, he was popular. “It was like winning the lottery”, he says.
But he’s also aware of how painful it all was; that we treat one another differently often based on our body types. There’s a hint of bitter irony as he reflects on some of his once sniggering frat brother, such studs in college & now, they’re overweight, balding and often miserable, while Adam’s become the picture modest, affable confidence; even going on to law school, passing the bar in both Texas and Florida on his first try.
Adam knows “winning the lottery” comes with its own baggage. You can get all big-headed, everyone likes you and you’re too-cool-for-school. That is what Adam is not. He is careful to avoid the pitfalls of shallow dating and friendships, is an exemplar of courtesy and admits it sounds corny when he admonishes: “just be good to people and just do right.”
It’s worked for Adam. Which brings us to 2,394 days. That’s how many continuous days Adam has walked a minimum of five miles, often twice a day. Wind, rain, storms, out of town trips, illness, disappointment; he refuses to stop. You see, he’s half the man he used to be, literally. And he’d like to keep it that way!