The name's Lawrence, but people call me names like "Lardo". I hate that. Baseball is my game. I just passed my sixteenth birthday, and I'm considered by some to be the best hitter in the league. Last season I hit 12 home runs! My team should have won the league championship. But they didn't... because of me... You see, I've got a problem. I hit like a tiger, but I run like a walrus! Last season I hit 12 home runs, but I scored only 16 runs total. I hardly ever make it around the bases without getting tagged out. I just can't run fast enough. I'm sure that you're saying,  " It's because you're way too heavy!", and you're right. And when I'm out in the field, the ball gets hit by me most of the time. My team mates really get mad when I hit the ball hard, and then I get tagged out, or I miss a fly ball, because then we lose.

This year, at our first game, I was super determined not to disappoint my team. Everybody was hoping for the league championship this season. It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, and we were behind by one run. I was up to bat, and my team mates were counting on me. I swung at the first two pitches... two strikes. Then, wack! I really walloped the ball into far right field, almost over the fence. Some jerk in the stands yells, "Hey Lardo! How about running the bases for a change!" It was easily a triple... but when I got to second base I was really out of breath, so I just had to stop there. The next batter hit a double, and he was headed for second base, so I had to get to third. "Move it dude!", he screamed. I was determined to run as fast as I possibly could. When I hit third base, I was moving like a Mac truck. But because I am so heavy, I couldn't stop. I ran right over third base and crashed into the umpire standing on the sidelines. Before I could even get up, the third basemen trotted over and tagged me with the ball. So we lost again. My team mates were really mad. They all just walked away and left me standing on the field by myself.

I was pretty mad too, and I was throwing a ball against the wall of the stands when I suddenly had the feeling that I was being watched. I whirled around and saw a white-haired old man sitting high up in the stands. He got up and slowly walked down to me. I tried to ignore him, but then I realized who he was. They called him "The Wiz." He was the star of the 1950's World Series, and one of the fastest base runners ever. He stole more bases than all his team mates put together. "How come you didn't score that run?" the old man asked, "You're the best hitter in the league!" I replied, "I can't run worth a hoot, because I've got this weight problem. It's hereditary, and..." "You mean you've got an eating problem?", he interrupted. I felt my face flush. "Umm... well, yeah. I guess I do eat a lot." "How come?" he asked. "Are you really that hungry or is it something else?" "Well, mostly it's like cravings that I get. I just gotta have pizza and fries and stuff.", I replied. The old man went on, "You know there is a difference between craving and hunger."

"Hunger is what you feel when your body needs food for nutrition. Craving is what you feel when your body wants food for pleasure. When you are unhappy, or worried about something, or just bored, you get cravings for food. The pizza tastes really good and makes you feel better, for a little while. That's a lot different than eating because you're hungry. But as soon as the food is gone you start to feel bad again. You're disappointed in yourself and, worst of all, you get fatter. And when you get fatter, people tease you more and you feel even worse about yourself and this makes you more unhappy so you eat more and so on. That's what's called a "vicious circle". Being really fat can also make you unhealthy: you can get heart problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes which can cause you to go blind.

If you want to do something about your weight and be a fast base runner then you've got to change your attitude about food. Tell yourself that food is for nutrition not for pleasure. Over-eating is just a habit. Like any habit it can be broken. And you have to break that vicious circle of making yourself more unhappy by getting fat so that you overeat even more.

Here's the way to break the over-eating habit and the vicious circle: you just eat the same things that you've been used to, but just cut them in half. Have a pizza the size that you're used to having, but break it in half and put half of it back in the box and close the box. Save the half in the box for the next day, and really enjoy the half that you eat. If you have a milkshake, just drink half of it the same way. Practice eating only half a cookie and putting the rest back or leaving some of your desert on your plate. It's just like practicing at baseball. There are also foods that you can eat all you want of, like fruits such as apples and grapes, and vegetables such as carrots and celery. And to get your mind off of food find things to do that you have fun with that don't have to do with food, like building science kits, or learning to play a keyboard, or doing sports like snowboarding or... baseball!"

What the old man said made sense, and I was starting to think about food in a different way than I ever had before. Then I noticed a really cute girl walking out onto the field towards us. "That's my granddaughter Ashlie. She's 15.", the old man said proudly. "Hi Ashlie, this is Lawrence. He's an overeater too." Oh nooo... I was so embarrassed. "Hi Lawrence, you sure are a great hitter. Don't be enbarrassed. I was an overeater too." She then pulled out a photograph of somebody at least twice as wide as she was. "This was me two years ago. My grandfather helped me with my eating problem, and he can help you."

She was right. Ashlie and I and the Wiz became great friends. She and her grandfather showed me how to just cut in half whatever I was used to eating. I could eat the same things, just less of them. I also learned to eat good stuff like apples and carrots. And when I was bored or stressed I went outside and practiced pitching or walked my dog, instead of raiding the fridge. It was tough, but I did what the Wiz recommended, and guess what... by the end of the next baseball season I was a whole bunch thinner and faster, and... we won the league championship! And nobody called me "Lardo" ever again!


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