‘Big Nate’ Lost 180 Pounds in Six Months

Nate Newton, 'before.'
Nate Newton, 'before.'

By now you may have heard something about Nate Newton, a former Dallas Cowboy who lost 180 pounds in six months.


That averages 30 pounds a month, or one pound a day. Of course, that’s not how he did it, and if you hadn’t heard, you’ve certainly figured out it was through surgery. News reports state that he had a somewhat new procedure, called “vertical gastrectomy,” also known as “gastric sleeve,” which is similar to stomach stapling. However, in one operation, about 75 percent of his stomach was removed.

The former offensive lineman weighed 325 when he played for Dallas, then gained 75 after retiring. The surgery dropped him from 400+ to 220.  He’s quoted everywhere as saying the change “feels good. You can pop out of bed; you can get up without groaning. It just feels better, lighter.” His goal is to get down to 196.

I can’t help but wonder if a woman’s reaction would be different. I would say it definitely would be, because being obese – or super obese, as was the former “Big Nate” – carries all the extra weight of societal stigma, pun absolutely intended. There would be a loss of a sense of self, as well as a loss of some friends and close relationships. Not so for Nate, who appears to be reveling in all the attention, now that he’s once again in the spotlight.

Maybe it’s a man thing. I know several women who’ve had weight-loss surgery and refuse to talk about or admit it to anyone. There are all sorts of reasons why, of course. I don’t have a problem with these ladies doing and saying whatever they feel they have to do or say about their sudden change in appearance. Me, I can’t imagine acting as if I lost the weight through any other means. Maybe I’d feel differently if I had the surgery, but I doubt it.

Losing 180 pounds in six months is mind-boggling, and according to a story in the Dallas Morning News, Nate’s surgeon acknowledges losing that much weight, that fast is not the norm, but states “It’s s not just the operation; Nate has been really amazing with regards to the lifestyle changes he's been able to make.”

Of course, we wouldn’t expect Nate’s doc to say anything negative, now would we? Especially since he’s become somewhat of a media darling, recently featured in the latest issue of Newsweek. The fact is, Nat’s been exercising two to five hours a day, five days a week. Yes, you read that correctly: five hours a day – a fact that’s rarely mentioned in all the recent stories.


I guess that’s what bugs me about this tale. Lord knows I’m all for weight loss by any means necessary, but as I’ve stated several times, no way would I ever go under the knife. Too chicken. So it’s not the surgery that irks me, but perhaps how appealing his extreme results would be to others.  The rate of weight loss isn’t average, Nate Newton isn’t average, and surgery on someone that size is high-risk and carries significant, sometimes fatal side effects.

Just wish stories like this were reported less breathlessly, and with a bit more care.


I've always been competitive, I've always been in sports. I couldn't see myself not being the biggest dope man.  ~  Nate Newton, after serving prison on drug possession charges.

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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.