For almost 20 years, WWE wrestling legend Paul Donald Wight II, a.k.a. The Big Show has been looking down on other competitors as the seven-foot, near-500lb, self-styled World’s Largest Athlete. But despite his fame, 45-year-old Wight was always a harsh critic of himself and was never truly happy with his size, and admits that it was a struggle for him to stay in shape – until a joke from pro John Cena gave him the inspiration he needed to begin a months-long quest to slim down.
Now, after dropping 70 pounds off his massive frame, The Big Show isn’t looking so big anymore and can finally see his abs. How did the man who thought losing weight is impossible for him achieve this? Read to find out!
Wight’s dramatic transformation captured the imagination of many of his fans, partly because his outlandish size was the very thing which rose him to fame, partly because he’s in a profession where athletes are constantly encouraged to make their physiques as big as possible.
Wight’s phenomenal size is caused by a tumor formed on his pituitary gland that caused growth spurts from the age of nine on. At various stages of his wrestling career, the villain-turned-hero has tipped the scale at almost 500 pounds. It wasn’t all because of the tumor, though. Despite working for two decades in a physically rigorous environment that demands optimal health, Wight never paid much attention to his diet and his bad eating habits contributed greatly to his super-massive size.
But one day he decided enough was enough, and a passing comment from his fellow wrestler John Cena sealed the deal. “We were talking about getting in shape and I said, “Ah, what the hell is a giant gonna do with abs?” and John looked at me with a straight face and said, “Yeah. A giant with abs. That wouldn’t be marketable at all.” And he walked off. It was kind of a shot, but later John reached out and congratulated me on the work I’ve done. That meant a lot—to have that respect from him was a big boost” – Wight told WWE.com.
In order to tone up, he teamed up with celebrity trainer Dodd Romero and overhauled his training program and diet. To melt the fat, he challenged his body with frequent high-intensity, high-rep routines, including swimming, biking and strength training, and transformed his diet by giving up all of his favorite junk foods. This took a lot of effort, including learning how his body responds to different things and learning all about good and bad carbs and amino acids.
His primary aim was to rev up his metabolism so that he could burn fat more efficiently, and improve the health of his tendons and joints, leaving the muscle building for later.
“It was definitely a conscious decision. You don’t make the transformation I’ve made without a serious commitment to changing 40 years of improper diet and improper training,” he says.
Once he started losing weight, fat came off in weird places such as his upper shoulders and butt, but as he progressed toward his goal, his sculpted muscles began to appear. With lots of persistence and discipline, he managed to get the pounds off and now he’s under 400 pounds for the first time in more than two decades.
“You don’t make the transformation I’ve made without a serious commitment to changing 40 years of improper diet and improper training,” explains Wight. “I wanted to make a change, and I was given the time and opportunity to make a change, so I took advantage of it.”
The Big Show now has a completely different mental image about himself and understands that his body is still a work in progress, but he’s willing to keep going.
“It’s funny, I used to ask guys who were in shape all the time, like Triple H, “What do you do?” It was hard to get information out of them, and I understand why now,” he said. “When you take the time and do the research (about nutrition) it’s more about what suits you, not what suits everybody.”
Fat loss can be hard for people who are hyper-critical about their own body, because it demands a lot of mental strength, patience and determination, which can only stem from accepting where you are and firmly believing that it’s possible to make dramatic changes in your lifestyle. Wight thinks that a lot of people give up in the middle of the process because they fail to understand that achieving the desired transformation won’t be easy at all.
“There is nothing more powerful, in the world, than the human spirit and the human will. It’s taken us to the moon, for God’s sake”, claims Wight.
For him, ultimately, it’s all about the choice between living healthier and looking better and making hedonistic choices such as enjoying good food that you know is bad for you. In his experience, almost 90% of losing body fat has to do with what you put in your mouth, and claims his days of indulging in ice cream and pizza are over. And the hard work he’s putting in is certainly paying off.
While he accepts that he’ll never end up looking like some of his WWE peers such as John Cena or The Rock, The Big Show says he has committed to taking the assets that he has and accentuating them as much as possible. And now that he’s cast off a big part of his once freakish bulk and revealed an amazingly strong, athletic figure, he might need a new nickname by the time WrestleMania rolls around.