Stallings' physical transformation paying dividends
May 22, 2019
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Scott Stallings before (left) and after (right) he dropped 55 pounds and 16 percent body fat. (Getty Images)
The photo on Scott Stallings’ PGA TOUR identification badge is a constant reminder of how far he’s come.
That’s because he makes sure the TOUR still uses the picture from several years ago – the one with those chubby cheeks and “triple chins,” he says. The one taken when the 6-foot Stallings weighed almost 240 pounds and his body fat was measured at 26 percent.
The three-time TOUR champ now clocks in at a chiseled 185 pounds and his body fat is just 10 percent. But Stallings wasn’t thinking about aesthetics when he started to transform his body about three years ago – he was worried about his health and his quality of life.
“I was sick and tired of getting done off the course and literally didn't feel like I could play with my kids or didn't feel like I could do the things I wanted to do,” Stallings says.
Stallings had become chronically fatigued. He slept – a lot – but never felt truly rested, and sometimes in that fog, Stallings didn’t even remember what he’d done the previous day. He didn’t eat well, either, thinking he could outwork a bad diet but eventually finding out that wasn’t the case.
“I wasn't a very good steward of my body,” Stallings says.
So, he ended up going to see an endocrinologist at UCLA, a doctor he jokingly describes as a cross between the title character in the TV series “House” and Colonel Sanders. He ran tests on Stallings for two days and in simplistic terms, discovered the three-time TOUR winner’s adrenal system was a mess.
“He walked back into his office after all the things were put together and he said, well, I can tell you one thing -- you're not going to die,” Stallings recalls. “And I said, excuse me? I said, I truly don't think I would come here if I'd have known that was an option.
“He goes, well, if you're in my office, it's an option. Literally, I tell people every single day they have something that's going to kill them.”
The doctor sent Stallings on an all-encompassing path to wellness that took about two years. Among the more interesting discoveries? He was deathly allergic to sweet potatoes, as well as barley and milk. So much for those protein shakes he’d been drinking daily for the past two years.
Stallings started working with a Renaissance Periodization dietician from Charlotte, N.C. He can now talk with authority about carbs, fats, caloric efficiencies and macronutrient consumption – as well as how different times of the season (tournaments held in hotter, humid temperatures, for example) change the fuel he puts into his body.
“I still eat, like I enjoy myself from time to time,” Stallings says. “But I plan for it and I know when those things are coming. And the biggest thing too, like never having two bad meals in a row. Like that's kind of a no-brainer.
“That's what I tell people. No cheat days -- you want cheat meals and just trying to slowly but surely figure out the ways to just make one better decision just a little bit more often.”
Stallings has learned to maximize the daily workouts he does with trainer Adam Kerley, as well. The two are close friends, and Stallings calls Kerley the “catalyst of me.”
Their longest session is on Monday, typically lasting about 90 minutes to two hours, and focuses on his lower body. As the week progresses and tee times loom, the workouts get shorter with mixes of cardio, rowing and bike intervals, kettleballs and rotary movements.
“I wouldn't call it golf-specific, but a lot of single arm stuff, a lot of kettle balls stuff and a little bit more higher intensity but way shorter time periods just as the week goes on,” Stallings says. “A lot of it depends on how long I've been on the road, as well.”
Inside the PGA TOUR
Scott Stallings life-changing transformation
Stallings’ sleep issues, diagnosed essentially as functional narcolepsy, were alleviated by sinus surgery in 2015 where for lack of a better term, he says, “they rotor-rootered my entire sinus cavity from my throat to my nose.” He now uses an fitness band and app called WHOOP to help understand healthy habits that lead to better sleep and recovery.
All of the changes Stallings has made in his life were initiated as much to increase longevity as enhance his performance on the golf course. He had gotten another wake-up call when he found out his biological age at 29 was 42. Now he’s reversed those numbers – his biological age is six years younger than his chronological age of 34.
“I was like, this is not something I could continue to head down this path, let alone be a husband and a father and the man off the course that I want to be -- let alone compete the best players in the world,” Stallings says. “As soon as that, that was just a slippery slope that I was eventually going to lose.”
Stallings’ fitness has definitely paid dividends on the golf course, though. He closed with a 66 to finish solo third at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year – his best performance since a tie for third at the 2017 Barbasol Championship – and currently ranks 79th in the FedExCup.
His club head speed is higher, too, and Stallings’ time on the therapy table has decreased.
“Now instead of just trying to get me to the first tee now it's like what can we do to help me be better,” Stallings says. “And the level of training that I've been able to do and the practice time.
“(Before) there would be so many days where I’d be so worn out like there'd be no practice. It would be just like, man, let me go rest. And now it's like I'm ready to roll. So, I feel great. This is the best I've ever felt in my whole life.”
Stallings admits that he’s been a little surprised by the attention his physical transformation has gotten because that was never his intent. He frequently gets messages on his Instagram account from people who have been inspired by his weight loss – saying they went to the gym for the first time in months or ran 5 miles with the kids or shed 30 pounds in 60 days.
All of which is gratifying to Stallings, who has learned to be his best self on and off the golf course.
“If you do the things with a little bit of discipline and a little bit of preparation, that goes a long way to allow you to do the things that you're truly capable of,” he says. “Actively pursuing discomfort -- that's not necessarily something that people enjoy. It's crazy to see the resilience that you can build up from there.
“And so, it's not always enjoyable, but the byproduct and the after effect is something that -- there's nothing else like it.”