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A MANAGEABLE SCALE
WADE WHIPS WEIGHT PROBLEM WITH LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Wade Phillips admitted getting beaten badly for years by the sweet tooth. Doughnuts and candy bars were irresistible. He was defenseless against desserts and, frankly, it showed.

Well, the Buffalo Bills coach has been off all that good (bad) stuff for the last six months, and now the round mound is nowhere to be found. Nearly six inches have vanished from his waistline since he started a diet called Sugar Busters, which helped him lose at least 30 pounds. It might be 40, perhaps even 50.

"I really don't know," Phillips said Tuesday after practice. "Really, I don't. I can tell you one thing -- it isn't what it says on my driver's license."

His exact weight-loss total is his business. Anyone who has been on a diet understands discussing the subject is heading into dangerous territory. Phillips is still not exactly a lean, mean coaching machine, but he has not looked or felt this healthy in years.

"I have no comment," said center Jerry Ostroski, himself a 310-pounder. "There are some things you just don't do. You don't talk about your wife's weight, and you don't talk about your coach's weight."

Good point. So let's discuss a husband's weight.

Laurie Phillips wanted Wade to drop some pounds because she worried about her husband's health. He is 52 and healthy, but he also is entering an age group where heart attacks become more common. Excess weight doesn't help.

Laurie Phillips figured it wouldn't hurt him to practice preventive maintenance before it was too late. He also gets bonus points for looking better on television.

"Looks are one thing. I was worried about him," she said. "His job is stressful, and I didn't want him going down in the middle of the field. I didn't want to become a widow. He's been good about it. He always is when he sets his mind to something."

Phillips also looks more refreshed than ever after looking exhausted for years. There is a reason for that, too. He was diagnosed last year with sleep apnea, a condition that causes him to stop breathing for long periods of time while asleep. The condition makes a good, sound sleep nearly impossible.

He now has a breathing-treatment machine in their bedroom that helps both him and Laurie get better rest, leading to increased energy and, therefore, more exercise.

"Certain people have it and don't know they have it," he said. "I was getting tired, and I didn't normally feel like that. I stopped breathing when I slept, but I had always done that. Laurie told me she thought it was getting worse. We decided to do something."

The Sugar Busters diet has made the biggest difference. The idea behind Sugar Busters is to decrease insulin levels, which help determine a person's hunger. He eats mostly fruits, vegetables and meat. Potatoes, pasta and rice are no-nos.

He's also exercising more and trying not to eat late at night, a tall order for football coaches because they work long hours and generally have poor eating habits. Many, such as New York Jets coach Bill Parcells, have lost considerable weight before putting most of it back on.

"Every now and then, I have something good (bad)," he said. "You don't punish yourself where you can't eat anything. I don't live like that, but I try to choose the right things more often now. I think about it more, and it has made a difference. The diet seems to fit me."

The diet might fit him, but his old pants don't.

He was measured for a suit last March just before the league meetings in Phoenix. He went to pick up the suit in June and found he had lost four inches off his waist. He was measured again. He recently went back and found he lost another inch and a half.

"I've lost quite a bit," he said. "I still have clothes that fit me before, and I have suits that I've had for a while that fit me again. So that's good."

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