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Athletes Outdoors » Time To Slim Down


Time To Slim Down

Davis Vows That BassFans Will See Less Of Him In ’09

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mark Davis believes that carrying fewer pounds on his frame next year will result in more pounds in his livewell over the course of the season.
Mark Davis is about 100 pounds lighter than he was in the early 1990s, and the records show that he fished pretty well back then. But by his own estimation, he was too heavy to compete to his full potential on the Bassmaster Elite Series this year.


He carried about 285 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame this season. He thinks if he’d been down around 250 or a little under, he could’ve finished higher than 12th place in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race in his return to the Bassmaster circuit.

So as he was wrapping up his 12th-place finish in the season finale at New York’s Lake Oneida, he vowed on the weigh-in stage to slim down before the start of the ’09 campaign.

“I should’ve done so much better this year, but I just didn’t have the stamina at the weight I’m at,” said the three-time Bassmaster AOY. “The Elite Series is a grind, and once that thing starts, it’s go, go, go, go, go – it’s a tough regimen of events and it’s a lot different than it used to be.

“In the last 24 months I’ve gained some additional pounds, and it took its toll on me. It’s very hard to lose weight on the road, or at least it is for me. You’re fishing all day, and then you eat dinner and go to bed on a full stomach. It’s a horrible scenario that you’re in.”

Once Pushed 4 Bills

Davis weighed 390 pounds a decade and a half ago and found himself unable to drop weight no matter what he tried. He resorted to the stomach-shrinking gastric bypass surgery and quickly got down to about 250.

He kept it off for quite a few years, but said the effects of that operation have worn off and his stomach has re-expanded. If he doesn’t take action now, he fears he’ll continue to creep back up toward his high-water mark.

That would not only hinder his fishing, but seriously threaten his health.

“I’m back to the point where it’s pretty easy to gain weight again, and I’m getting older, too,” the 44-year-old said. “And the older I get, the harder it’ll be to take it off.”

He’s already eliminated fried foods from his diet – a big step because his favorite meals center around fried crappie or walleye. He’ll kick off an exercise program with a lot of walking and will add a weight-training routine. He may also enlist the services of a personal trainer from Texas named Ken Hoover, who works with several Elite anglers.

“I’ve seen him around the tour, and some guys use him who don’t have weight problems but still have a stamina issue. According to him, the problem is lifestyle – you go all day without eating anything, and then you eat a bunch at night. That’s exactly what I do.”

On-Water Decisions Affected

inbox-1Davis’ 2008 season got off to a great start. He led the AOY race after three events, but then began to descend down the ladder as the spring wore on.

He’s historically excelled during the post-spawn, but that wasn’t the case this year. If he’d finished two places lower at Lake Murray (where he was 49th), he would’ve missed four straight Top-50 cuts from the start of May through the middle of June. He bottomed out with an 83rd at Kentucky Lake.

“I had a year that started out good and wound up mediocre, and I’m not satisfied with it,” he said. “I’d start out fine in practice, but after 3 days of that I’d be behind on my rest and so forth and so on, and then when I needed (stamina) the most during the tournament, that’s when I was really feeling the effects of it. It’s a cumulative thing.
Davis weighed about 285 for most of this season, but wants to be no higher than 250 in 2009.
“Like that last day at Oneida when I’d made the 12-cut. That’s when I really needed to pour it on and be 100%, and I wasn’t. The competition out here’s getting tougher and tougher, the stakes are higher and everybody’s performing at a high level. I can perform at a much higher level than I did this year, but I can’t get it done in the physical shape I’m in right now.

“You will make poor decisions if you don’t feel good,” he continued. “You don’t think as good, and that’s a fact. And not thinking good leads to poor decisions, and poor decisions lead to poor finishes.”

Will-Power Required

Davis said his wife, Tilly, has had success with the Weight Watchers program, and he thinks it might work for him because it offers a wide variety of food choices.

“She’s pretty much convinced me that’s the way to go,” he said. “You get to eat a lot of different things, so you don’t feel so deprived. And the other part of it is the accountability of having to weigh in every week.

“I’m sure I’ll have problems staying with it. It’s all about will-power and I’ve always had problems with that, and I don’t expect it to be any different this time. But the thing about diets that helps you is once you start losing the weight, you get to feeling so much better. That’s my motivation to go on it and keep it going.

If he can come back next year at 250 pounds, or better yet 240, he’s confident he can make a run at his fourth AOY.

“If you don’t feel good, you don’t fish good and your quality of life isn’t where it needs to be. But if you can get your energy level up, it’s a lot easier to keep focused on what you need to do out there.”


Davis was a football player in high school. “I was big, but I was in shape. I’ve lost a lot of that muscle and I need to get some of it back.”

He started a low-carbohydrate diet last week, but plans to switch to the Weight Watchers program soon. “The (low-carb) is just for the time being to get started. In the long run it’s not really healthy. It works, but in my experience you tend to gain back the weight you lose real easily.”

Photos: ESPN Outdoors

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