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Tuesday, May. 30, 2023

‘Project Big Fella: Dorsett fights weight

CINDY WOOD/independent feature writer

Project Big Fella's Rob Dorsett and YMCA Personal Trainer Julie Schaufelberger "battle" to get Dorsett into shape. (Cindy Wood/Van Wert independent)

Rob Dorsett isn’t getting any sympathy from YMCA Personal Trainer Julie Schaufelberger. “Come on … get it up there,” she said to Dorsett during his daily workout, urging him to bring the weight bar higher.

“Fear … that’s what it is,” Dorsett said with a laugh, describing his relationship with Schaufelberger, who has been working with him during the YMCA’s “Project Big Fella” challenge. Known to many in the community as “the computer guy” from CNT, Dorsett and the YMCA’s Schaufelberger are months into what they hope will be a “big” transformation.

At his heaviest, Dorsett was tipping the scales at nearly 600 pounds. A typical meal? “Oh, I could easily eat six to eight eggs for breakfast, and go through about ten loaves of bread a week. Actually, my last meal before my surgery was a 50-piece chicken nuggets and a value meal. And then, I went home and had a large pizza. Yeah, I could really put it down.”

Gastric bypass surgery a few years ago helped take a considerable amount of that weight off, but even after surgery he couldn’t quite bring himself to follow the rules. “I kept right on eating,” he said. “I guess you could say I bypassed the bypass.”

Over the years, Dorsett’s self-described emotional eating resulted in blood sugar levels of up to 600 and bad knees. “I knew for many, many years how big I was and I just ignored it,” he said. “I was a walking massive heart attack, and I didn’t even care. For me, it was how I was popular. I was showing off.”

These days, Dorsett shows off on the stationary bike or the treadmill. Limitations from knee pain, though, called for a slow and steady fitness plan. “He had quite a few limitations in the beginning,” Schaufelberger said.

“Yep, I’d walk right by the elliptical and flip it off,” Dorsett added with a laugh.

A great week for Dorsett is a loss of six to seven pounds, and a good week is taking a few pounds off. And then there are weeks Dorsett doesn’t want to talk about.

Schaufelberger is quick to point out, though, that it’s not just about exercise and diet. “It’s a complete lifestyle change,” she said. “So much goes into the process for anyone trying to lose weight and get healthy. It’s learning portion control and nutrition and everything else that goes into it.”

Clearly, though, Dorsett had to make some immediate changes in his life if he wanted to make any progress. “Definitely not drinking 15 cans a day of Mountain Dew anymore,” he said, adding that he does treat himself to an occasional Diet Mountain Dew.

His recent weight-loss journey began in March of this year, and Dorsett realized very early on that this time there was some accountability that came with it. “I completely underestimated how many people would be watching me,” he said with a laugh. “Originally, it was just kind of an idea to promote the 24/7 aspect of the Y, but it ballooned very quickly.

“When I first started and began telling everyone to watch me, I didn’t realize how many people would actually be watching me. Especially her,” he said, pointing at Schaufelberger. “She’s a tough one and she scares me,” he added jokingly.

On Day 1 of Project Big Fella, Dorsett weighed just shy of 400 pounds, but months of early-morning workouts and diet modifications have decreased that total by nearly 50 pounds.

“And we’re definitely far from done,” Schaufelberger said. “Certainly, we would have liked to be a little further than that right now, but that’s okay, because he continues to make progress and lose weight and that’s what it’s all about,” she added.

Dorsett is proud of that number, but he’s certainly not ready to celebrate with a bag of potato chips. “I’m to the point now where I’m in pain if I don’t work out,” he said. “It’s really more about the feeling I get driving down the road and looking down and being able to see I’ve lost weight. It’s a good feeling.”

POSTED: 09/29/12 at 6:19 am. FILED UNDER: News