When popular Los Angeles Power 106 radio host Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander set out to lose weight 10 years ago after a challenge from Will Smith, things seemed to kick off in the most inspiring way. After a loss of over 100 pounds, one-fifth of his beginning weight, Big Boy garnered a huge donation for charity from Smith for his efforts. But sadly, the thrill didn’t last long, as Big Boy put the pounds right back on.
In 2003, Big Boy made the difficult choice of undergoing weight loss surgery, which with time and some critical life changes, has resulted in a nearly 300 pound weight loss. This time around, Big Boy is assured that he’ll go the distance, and the only things getting bigger are his personality and opportunities.
Now in 2012, Big Boy is celebrating the release of his new book An XL Life: Staying Big At Half The Size via Cash Money Content/Atria Books, an upswing in his fan base with the success of his website, a television deal and more in the works. UrbLife.com recently spoke with Big Boy about why he decided to come forth with his story, weight loss struggles, and the effects body changes have had on his life.
What are some of Big Boy’s favorite pleasures as a thinner man? How has weight loss affected his family? How has internet success changed his radio show? What is his philosophy on relationships at work? And how is health like credit? Read on for the answers in this UrbLife.com exclusive…
What made you decide to tell your story about the weight loss surgery and the process of change?
Big Boy: I never thought that I would write a book. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I wasn’t even trying to document anything. It was something that I did for myself to make sure I had a chance at more life. The more that I started to get through talking about it on air, not what I been through, because I had a lot of complications, but I didn’t put any of that on the air. I just had a lot of people that would ask me about either weight loss or how I’m feeling now or what do I do to maintain.
So many people that were going into either lap band or some kind of gastric bypass were just asking, “What should I do?” So when I got approached to do the book, well I [thought]the people that I can’t sit down with one on one, then possibly they’ll be able to read my thoughts and why I did it and why that should be your last option. The opportunity came and I had to take advantage of it.
The surgery that I got is called the duodenal switch, which is the most aggressive gastric bypass surgery you can have. My post surgeon doesn’t even do that procedure. This was before a lot of the lap bands and gastric bypass, before a lot of those popped up. That was the most extreme, and I was at an extreme point in my life, so I did the most aggressive surgery that you could get.
What are some key things that you enjoy about your body now that you lost weight?
BB: I was never in the so called “fat prison” or “fat cell” because I went out and did things as much as I could. I couldn’t get on roller coasters and stuff like that, but I wasn’t the guy that just sat in the house. It was small victories. Some of the things that you wouldn’t even trip off of.
Now I get a joy off of getting on an airplane and not having to get a seatbelt extension. The tray table coming down, knowing that if I need to get somewhere and the luggage don’t come, I can go and buy a shirt off of the rack. It’s small things like that I just enjoy.
Now I have kids, and I enjoy being able to chase after them and being able to experience things with them that at 500 plus pounds I wouldn’t be able to experience, like getting on a roller coaster and sharing a ride with them at Disneyland.
What is one fear that you discuss in the book that you think people should get something out of?
BB: It’s crazy, because the book was enlightening to me. It was like therapy, because I never really acknowledge that I had a love affair with food; that growing up homeless, that food was always there [as comfort]. So I think with the book, it’s going to be something that everyone identifies with 100% or they can put something in their own perspective.
Why was I eating? Why was I overindulging? What brought me to that? For each person, I think that it’s their own journey, because we all have an answer; but it’s how you develop it or how you came to that answer. Why was I 500 pounds? Why did I enjoy eating? Anyone from anywhere could be like, “I was ridiculed and food was my so called savior.”
In the book, it’s an open dialogue for you to say, “Ok maybe that’s the reason why” or “Maybe I see where that came from.” Maybe I was in denial because I didn’t realize how much I was in so called denial I really was. I can say that it was naïveté or whatever, but it wasn’t until I started taking layers off that I realized I had a real problem, until I sat down and started writing this book.
It’s crazy, because I realized the more that I would talk; the more I wasn’t even talking to the person that would buy the book. It goes the point where I was just really talking to myself, like this is real. I’m a work in progress. I don’t have my answers, so I definitely can’t have your answers. I can get you close and learn something from you or you can learn something from me, see the similarities and differences.
What differences do you see in the way people treat you now, both professionally and on the street? What kind of compassion has it given you for people going through a weight problem?
BB: Day to day differences… like when I get on Southwest unassigned seating, I can tell that I don’t get the same look walking down 195 to 200 pounds that I got when I was 500 pounds. I was just talking with my wife a few days ago, I had just walked into my son’s class, he’s 4-years-old turning 5 in February, but it was crazy though because out of two classrooms having lunch with 40 kids, kids are real. They don’t have that mental editor.
Kids would be the first one to say, “Look at that fat man, mommy why is he so fat?” So walking up to my son’s class and not hearing that one time… You didn’t hear it every day, but you heard it enough.
Those kinds of things really trip me out where it’s like, “Damn, I’m not that guy that I am used to being for so long in my life.” Just the way that people would treat you, I had the upper hand because I was ‘Big Boy, Power 106 Los Angeles’. I had the upper hand and a different kind of confidence that the other person may not have had for the last 10 years before I even got the surgery.
I can see now with people they are a little more open to you [after weight loss]. They’ll say things in front of you that you never heard before. You start hearing, “He or she needs to lose more weight,” and I’m like, “Hold on you’re talking about them then you’re talking about me.” I think that people are a little bit freer.
I’ve noticed that there is no more real pun in the size I am now. The roles for the big guy or someone trying to say something sly in the script or something. You don’t get those kinds of things so people kind of treat you a lot different I’ve noticed.
Can you give some tips on how to keep the pounds off through diet?
BB: You know it’s crazy, because people don’t pay attention to or listen to the simple basics. You ever watch a commercial and it says that “this will work with proper diet and exercise?” It’s true! We want some kind of miracle pill that suppresses our appetites or gives us these results without actually putting in any work.
Even with me being a work in progress, we have to listen to our bodies also. You have to know how to say “I’m full” or “I don’t need to eat that” or “I don’t need to put all of that on my plate.” Whatever is on our plate, sometimes we’ll eat, so you have to put less and you’ll pretty much tap out on the same thing. Sometimes we tend to overindulge. We feel like that we can put on the holiday pounds and the holiday pounds become the New Year’s resolutions. Then the New Year’s resolutions become a disaster, because we put the pounds on but we don’t stick to our resolutions.
I always tell people that our health is like credit, it’s like a credit card. You’ll be able to make all of these different swipes, but actually saying no or not even indulging in a little bit because a little piece of pie will not satisfy you. “Oh, I’ll just take a little piece.” Not even going there and not even putting certain things on your plate, or even just saying “let me eat half and take the rest home.” I wish that you could eat as much crap as you want and that’s the way you stay healthy.
You’ve gotten a lot more active on the internet in the past couple of years. What are some things that you like to bring differently with your online presence in conjunction with radio this year?
BB: For so many years you had to over-explain what was going on, like, “Oh my gosh! He’s getting hit with a dart right now!” if there was a stunt or anything that we’re doing live on air. You had to really take a brush and paint this picture. Now with the internet, we could do the so called stunt or something or have that great interview, and it’ll shoot you straight to the web. Now people are really waiting on you – it’s immediate service that you got to give people.
I think jumping on the internet and the blogs really helps us do what we have to do, because that’s just another way for us to promote something that we’re doing on the audio tip that we can promote on the visual tip. Just knowing the power of pressing that ‘send’ is ridiculous.
What kind of projects do you have coming that people should look for?
BB: I have a deal with VH1, not any craziness, just a show that I’m creating. The book tour will keep me busy for the first couple of months of 2012. Big Boy Radio Network is still syndicated across the country. Really trying to create more television shows and really trying to get in where I don’t fit in.
I’m ready to go ahead and push the boundaries. 2012 is the year of me trying to get out of the norm. Starting off with a book that I never thought that I would write, TV projects, tackling more syndicated radio, just me really trying to get out there and increase this brand that’s called Big Boy.
Find out more about Big Boy on his official site RadioBigBoy.com