When Scott Stallings arrived in Texas in early October for the Houston Open, he immediately checked his GPS. There was a grocery store four minutes away. Trader Joe’s, however, was a 28-minute ride. He buckled up and settled in for the trip.
“People say it’s hard to eat healthy on the road, but it’s all about what’s important to you,” Stallings says. “I know Trader Joe’s like the back of my hand, so I know I can get exactly what I want, no compromises.”
Stallings stopped making compromises to his health in 2016 when, at age 29, he was diagnosed with acute adrenal fatigue. At the time, the 6-foot Stallings weighed 240 pounds—and had been as heavy as 255—and had 26 percent body fat.
His diet was a wreck, and his cortisol and testosterone levels were out of whack. A blood test showed his inflammatory markers were off the charts, more representative of a soda-guzzling couch potato than a professional athlete. He was exhausted all the time but couldn’t sleep, and often felt too tired after golf even to play with his children, Finn and Millie, now 6 and 4.
“I can tell you one thing,” a doctor told him. “You’re not going to die.”
But Stalling’s condition nonetheless was an eye-opener, and he immediately began to make changes. First, he eliminated sweet potato, barley and milk from his diet, to which testing had showed he was allergic but were key ingredients in the protein powder he had been eating regularly.
He then went through an excruciating surgery to unclog his sinus cavity, which was dysfunctional due to breaking his nose three times in childhood and contributing to his inability to sleep. The near-instantaneous improvement in being able to get his rest motivated Stallings to return to the gym, and he began working out harder than ever. Now, at age 34, Stallings is 185 pounds with only 10 percent body fat.
“It’s crazy how, when you treat your body the right way, when you make a few better decisions a little more often, it can make a turn,” Stallings says. “I feel better now than I did when I was 23.”
So Stallings will trek to Trader Joe’s in each tournament city, no matter how far he has to drive, to load up on liquid egg whites, low-sodium turkey, power greens, sprouts and multi-grain toast for his go-to breakfast scramble, along with guacamole, crunchy peanut butter and good butter for healthy fats.
Stallings has stopped staying in hotels because he wants a kitchen where he can cook, so he loads his groceries into the fridge at his Airbnb, alongside a regular shipment of organic meals from Trifecta Nutrition, which are delivered to each TOUR stop. Water is also an essential, with Stallings trying to drink three gallons each day before dinner.
Every three months, he gets a full blood workup and a BOD POD body composition analysis, because he doesn’t want anything to “sneak up.” He monitors the length and quality of his sleep with a WHOOP strap worn on his wrist. And he works out nearly every day, even during tournaments, structuring his workouts in length and intensity to accommodate his golf schedule. “Early in the week, we do heavier, slower, longer trainings sessions,” he says. “On Wednesdays, I do fasted cardio [at least 12 hours after consuming food], and then Thursday through Sunday, workouts are lighter, faster and shorter, in the morning if I play in the afternoon, or after golf if I play in the morning.”
When at home, Stallings trains in the 1,500-square-foot gym he built in a barn on his property in Knoxville, Tenn. Stallings, who is pals with four-time CrossFit Games champ Rich Frooning Jr., favors CrossFit-style workouts augmented with functional training for golf.
“My fitness goal is to do better today than yesterday,” he says, and that also applies on the golf course. Stallings’ swing is more repeatable, with more clubhead speed, than when he was heavier. His improved fitness has resulted in fewer trips to the physical therapist and led to two top-10 finishes and five top-25 finished in both 2018 and 2019.
Stallings was inspired throughout his weight-loss journey by a quote thrown his way from a CrossFit friend during a workout: “You have two things you can control: Your attitude and your effort, and the rent is due on both every day. So pay the man.” Stallings has “Rent is Due. Pay the Man,” painted on the wall in his home gym and engraved on his wedges.
“I have two things I can control,” he says. “I’m going to have a good attitude and I’m going to try hard.”
Golf Bag Snacks
PERFECT Bars: These nut butter-based, low-glycemic, gluten-free, non-GMO whole-food protein bars are blended with 20 superfoods for a filling, on-the-go snack. Stallings’ favorite flavors? “Blueberry Cashew, and the limited-edition Birthday Cake was unreal.”
RX Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter or Justin’s Cinnamon Almond Butter: These all-natural nut butters come in convenient, single-serving packets that Stallings loves to eat along with an apple. “They’re so good, I’ve been known to tear open the packet and lick the inside, right there on the golf course,” he says.
Ascent Casein Protein: The amino acids in casein, a slow-digesting protein found in milk, help the body make melatonin, which regulates the sleep cycle. “I mix it with water and a little honey and shake the heck out of it,” Stallings says.
Stallings completes these quick
, go-to workouts at CrossFit gyms and training centers near his PGA TOUR stops.
Manny V (named for a PGA TOUR caddie)
SEVEN MINUTES WORK: Complete 100 dumbell thrusters, with appropriate weight (Stallings uses 40-pound dumbells), stopping at the top of each minute to complete five burpees
THREE MINUTES REST
SEVEN MINUTES WORK: Complete 150 kettlebell swings (Stalling uses a 53-pound kettlebell), stopping at the top of each minute to complete 20 air squats
*If finished before seven minutes is up, you get more rest! If not, stop where you are, move on to the next part of the workout and try to go further next time!
THE HOLY TRINITY
400 Meter Run
30 calories assault bike
30 calories ski erg
30 calories rower
400 Meter Run
20 calories assault bike
20 calories ski erg
20 calories rower
400 Meter Run
10 calories assault bike
10 calories ski erg
10 calories rower
400 Meter Run
This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR December 2019-May 2020 issue, which can be read here.
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