DAVID POLLACK lives and breathes football. A former University of Georgia Bulldog and Cinncinati Bengal, his pro career was cut short after an injury. While he tipped the scales at 297 pounds in his heyday, he’s since slimmed down to a more manageable 220 pounds. These days, he spends his time traversing the country with ESPN’s College Game Day. We sat down with him to find out what got him so big, and how he worked his way down. Be sure to check him out on January 1st when he calls the Capital One Bowl.
MF: You were heavier when you were a junior at UGA , but when you came into your senior year you were significantly slimmer. What happened?
DP: When you’re an athlete—especially at the position I played, defensive end—you have to have some size. I think your identity gets wrapped up in having size and being a big person. You train to be big and strong. I started to take nutrition classes at UGA going into my senior year. My idea of a pregame meal, [I would have] two Wendy’s triple stacks and a large frosty. I met with a nutritionist and went down the aisles of [the grocery store] and started to read labels and really learned how to apply it. It was amazing. I went from 292 to 245 for spring ball.
MF: How did that affect you mentally, knowing you were smaller than the previous season?
DP: You worry about your weight because you have to be big and you have to be strong. The one thing that I started to realize is initially you lose strength, but it’s just like anything else. You get in the weight room and you can still get stronger and you can still get it back. I realize that you don’t have to be big to be strong. Just because I’m a big guy doesn’t make me a strong guy. I was still powerful and I lost weight so fast that I lost some strength, so it took me some time to put my muscle back on.
MF: When you were playing you went down to 245. What were your numbers like in the weight room before and after you lost weight?
DP: I would say from my junior year to my senior year I went from 400 bench to 455. Keep in mind, I went to 245 for spring ball. Once I got through the spring and into the summer, I was back up to 265. It was a more solid 265, a lot better looking. I cleaned at 400 pounds.
MF: How did you perform compared to the season prior when you were at 265?
DP: I performed better. I think with preparing for the offseason and getting ready for your senior year, every year you continue to learn and grow and try to make your game evolve. The thing I like the most about being a little bit lighter is, endurance wise, I think you can push yourself harder. When you strap a 20 pound weight vest on and you go run, it makes it a lot harder.
MF: So when did you realize that you didn’t need to walk around at 265?
DP: I’m 220 now. It’s a process just like everything else. I was in a halo and a neck brace for a couple of years [after my injury with the Bengals], so [I] couldn’t do everything [I] wanted to do, but I slowly started to lose some weight. It’s been a process and I’m continuing to educate myself. My wife and I, we’re cognizant of what we cook and what we eat, when we eat. This next year, I have goals I want to pursue in nutrition—[eat] more deer; I don’t want to eat anything that is processed. I look at stuff that has more than four ingredients and I’m not interested in it. It took a while to evolve and grow. The number one thing that is the most annoying thing is that everyone who sees me is like, oh my god you’re so skinny. I’m 220-230 on a given day, and I’m just like, I lost weight, I’m not small. It’s like walk up on me, dude—come on!
MF: What are you doing to stay in shape?
DP: Now, because of my travel schedule—I travel five days a week—I do a lot of bodyweight stuff, finding weight rooms when I can. A lot of pull-ups, pushups, sit-ups. I have these pull-up straps with me on the road that I can strap on the door and do pull-ups. I have to run at least one mile a day. I’ve done a challenge on my Twitter the last few years from Thanksgiving to January 1st. Everyone has seven to 20 minutes to walk, jog, or run a mile. Everyone can do that. I challenge myself to do that as well.
MF: We heard that you cleaned up the catering on ESPN’s College Game Day?
DP: When I came on Game Day a few years ago and [saw] what was on set—you look over and see candy galore and cookies—all this garbage. The more inclined you are to have something laying around, the more inclined you are to eat it. Just having that stuff next to us all the time was kind of bad. I asked, for me, can I get some of this, some of that—healthy snacks. Some fruit, stuff like that which would make it easier to be healthy. I did that and it kind of spread to where the table got a lot cleaner and healthier and better. Now, on the whole, our table is pretty good for being there all day.
MF: Do you have any advice for someone looking to lose weight?
DP: Every journey starts with baby steps. Don’t try to be perfect. Set yourself down a path where you’ll have success, but realize that path sometimes is going to dead end and you’re going to mess up. That doesn’t mean you quit. That means you start back and you get back on the bike and start riding again. You try to be better the next time.