A changed man in so many ways these past five years, Scott Stallings has this to say to anyone hesitant to leave behind their old ways:
“You only get one chance at this, man,” he said. “Don’t make the same mistakes I did.”
Stallings has lost 55 pounds and no longer drinks a dozen Dr Peppers a day as he once did when myriad bad habits and health problems sent him to two endocrinologists — one on each coast — as well as allergists and other specialists.
The 34-year-old is a three-time tour winner but has not won since the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open. That’s about the same time his health issues combined and magnified: He was tired all the time and his eating and sleep habits were “terrible” in a business already filled with travel and stress.
A battery of tests revealed not one serious condition but a number of smaller issues that contributed to his misery. His inflammatory markers that measure how his body protects itself were “off the charts” high. He discovered sweet potatoes — a staple of his diet — were like putting “poison” in his body.
One specialist told him that if the doctor hadn’t administered one test himself, he would swear it came from a person headed for a nursing home, not a young professional golfer with a growing family.
“Everything was not in proportion to what my body could handle at the time,” said Stallings, who shot a 5-under-par 66 Friday in the first 3M Open and is 6 under after two rounds.
A sleep study showed a young man who couldn’t sleep — “functional narcolepsy,” he said — and when he did, never reached deep levels of it. A CPAP machine intended to help him sleep at night only made it worse. A scan ordered by an allergist revealed the entire left side of his sinus cavity was “caved in,” a condition the specialist couldn’t believe hadn’t been already diagnosed.
“I broke my nose three times when I was a kid,” he said. “Never had it fixed.”
Reconstructive surgery fixed his sinus cavity, but it was a painful road back. Now he eats wisely, hasn’t had a Dr Pepper in at least three years and exercises “all the time,” saying “what I do for a living is so counterintuitive to my personality that I have to find ways to get away from this.”
Now he says, change today.
“Don’t wait for an ah-hah moment,” Stallings said. “Make a decision today. Don’t be content. Always understand there’s always a better version of yourself. You just have to figure out what you’ve got to do to find it each and every day.”