The weight loss industry is booming in the United States, but Travis Bond used a tried and true formula last offseason when he lost "half a man" – shedding about 60 pounds in two months.
The recipe? Start with a large human being (Bond was 376 pounds back then) consuming massive amounts of calories on southern home cooking, then remove the bad calories, cut them by 50 to 70 percent and exercise like a demon while exorcising those demons.
Remember when Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said during April's draft that he didn't even recognize Bond when he went to a North Carolina game last fall? There's good reason for that. Bond went from about 375 pounds to 316, he says, in about two months.
"I was working out Sunday through Sunday. There was never a day off for me. I was going in at 5 o'clock in the morning, working out before a workout, after a workout and then coming in later in the afternoon and I might play basketball or something. It was a lot," Bond said earlier this month after a training camp practice. "And then changing my eating habits. It helped."
It didn't go unnoticed either. With his weight down, his mobility increased, and the Vikings made him a seventh-round draft choice. Now he has a decent shot to make the roster as a player that can adapt at both guard and tackle.
He's currently listed at 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, but he's in far better shape than he was as a junior.
"I went to the North Carolina-Louisville game in September and I didn't have any 2012 tape at the time, so I watched 2011 tape and I saw this big guard that was about 370 pounds or whatever he was and saw that he didn't move very well," Spielman said after drafting Bond. "But then they came running out of the tunnel and I'm looking and looking to see this guy saying, I got to see how big he is, but I couldn't find him. Then I saw they pulled half a man out of him and I was like, is this the same guy, the same number?"
Bond had marked an NFL career as a possibility in his mind for many years. But it wasn't just the enticement of playing at football's top level and earning big money that motivated his weight-loss program.
"I even thought about it because of my son. I want to be able to play with him when I get older and teach him things about football, basketball, whatever he might want to do," Bond said. "That had a big impact. And then you hear talk about going to the NFL but you might have to change this and change that. That had a big impact on me, having my hopes and dreams of going to the NFL. The weight loss really changed my mindset about a lot of things."
He took the logical next step and began his weight-loss odyssey. His favorite foods were no longer regular options and his workouts kicked into overdrive.
He began to shun his "mom's best cooking." Homemade hamburgers, cornbread, fried chicken, barbequed chicken, soul food, southern food, it was all off his plate.
He estimated his calorie intake dropped from about 5,000 a day to between 1,700 and 2,200.
"The way we make collard greens, you've got a lot of meat and fat in it," he said. "Trust me, it was a lot of calories."
Which, in turn, created too much man.
These days, Bond has playing guard and some tackle for the Vikings and hoping to have his dietary change pay off financially as well as giving him a better quality of life. He clearly has at least a fighting chance to make the team's 53-man roster, and if he does he can thank his commitment to weight loss and Spielman's inability to spot him so easily last year.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Travis Bond: Two months, 60 pounds shed
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