A few years ago, a small pizza chain opened up a location in my hometown. The chain’s name is Snappy Tomato Pizza and their claim to fame is “The Beast,” a giant 24-piece pizza that is the equivalent of about 3 large deep dish pizzas!
It’s listed to feed about 12 people and it costs about $25 for one topping.
But the claim to fame of their claim to fame is their “Beast Challenge!” Two people have 30 minutes to eat an entire Beast pizza with four toppings. And when I found out about this challenge, I had been on a steady TV diet of Man V. Food, a show that follows a man (Adam Richman) who goes around America taking on food challenges just like this.
I convinced a cop buddy of mine to take it on with me. I was a big guy, he was a cop, how on earth could we lose an eating challenge?! And if you won, not only was the pizza free, but you got a t-shirt and a photo on the wall declaring your victory forever!
However, only one team in my hometown had defeated the challenge so far. So, that was kind of intimidating. But we were determined.
Here is what happened and what I learned from this experience:
The four toppings we picked were pepperoni, Canadian bacon, red onions, and black olives. We were both kinda picky on toppings and these were the only four we could really agree on. But, we assumed it would be easy.
Of course, that was our first mistake. Specifically, the Canadian bacon. We expected typical ham slices. The little triangles, a few on each slice. Wrong. They do ham cubes, which we did not know. Each ham cube was about the same amount of ham as a slice would have been, but there were about 20 of them on each slice! Waaaaaaaaay too much meat.
When I woke up that morning, I ate a small breakfast to get my metabolism going so I would be starving by the time of the challenge at 3PM. My buddy starved himself. Both seemed to work equally well.
So, we sat down, and the pizza was set before us. The clock started, and we dug in.
You have to start chowing down right away, because 30 minutes is not a lot of time. Of course, the pizza is piping hot, so the very first thing I did was burn the heck out of the roof of my mouth. My buddy was able to power through a little faster than me at the start.
But, I gotta tell you, the first half of that pizza was delicious and a piece of cake.
AND, by the 18 minutes mark, we had already taken down two thirds of that pizza. There was no doubt in my mind we were going to do this.
This is exactly when we started slowing down. The pizza was cooler now, and the ham was really starting to clog up the works. It was ham overload.
Our wives and his kids were cheering us on. My buddy had his phone playing “Eye of the Tiger” on a continuous loop. But the motivation was nothing compared to the pain of so much pizza.
By the 25 minute mark, we each still had two slices left. And we both hit the “food wall.” The thought of taking another bite made me sick. Every bite I took turned to paste in my mouth. I had to chew each bite for what felt like hundreds of times before I could convince my throat to swallow it.
With two minutes left, we both tried to kick it into high gear. I put those last two pieces together like a sandwich and tried my best to power it down. My buddy had started eating the heart of the pizza and saved a lot of crust for last, which, in my opinion, was a big mistake. I took out my crust pieces early, because those would have to be the hardest parts to get through.
The 30 minute mark struck and we had about 3 pieces worth of remnants staring us in the face. We lost. I was certain going into this that we would win. I was wrong.
I paid the 35 bucks the 4-topping pizza cost and we walked away in defeat.
But the pain of defeat was nothing compared to what our bodies had in store for us.
First of all, I couldn’t eat anything for nearly two days without nearly throwing up. I was in the bathroom all day long. My organs ached. ACHED! Also, it took about 2 weeks for my mouth to heal.
Will I ever attempt anything like this again? No. No no no. Never. No. One of the worst decisions of my life. I wouldn’t recommend it for anybody.
But I do have a new found respect for Adam Richman.
All this happened a little over a year ago. I was thinking about it today and how it really is a metaphor for my road to recovery.
In trying to overcome my addictions and bad habits, I relapsed three different times.
Why? I was trying to rush through the process to get to the victory! Each time, I fell short because I wasn’t doing things properly. The finish line was all I could see, so I ignored key steps in the process.
“Too much, too quickly” is always a recipe for failure.
This is why man is not meant to eat 8 pounds of pizza in one sitting. It’s unhealthy. And even if you make it through the whole thing, that doesn’t mean you accomplished anything tangible.
One of the biggest problems in recovery is people rushing through the 12 steps, skipping over things they find difficult or pointless, and still expecting to stay clean.
It doesn’t work.
This is why you can’t approach your journey to recovery as a challenge or a race. It’s supposed to be a “one day at a time” change that lasts the rest of your life.
You know, like eating normal, healthy amounts of food over the course of multiple meals a day. It just works better that way, folks. Trust me.