ANT’s career has been stellar – but behind the laughs, he was coping with personal pain. Now he's turning to The Doctors for help.
From a stint on “The Last Comic Standing,” ANT progressed to a show of his own: “The US of ANT.” He hosted VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club” as well. “I was making millions of dollars a year,” ANT says. “I had multiple homes in many cities, I had a boyfriend who was gorgeous. The fame was getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and the stakes were getting higher and higher and higher.” But it all came crashing down when a producer walked in on ANT with a belt around his arm, ready to inject crystal meth and heroin.
ANT was sober for 10 years, but his partner’s tragic death and the pressures of his career took their toll. “I had one drink, one night. And the next thing I know, I’m slamming heroin and crystal meth, wondering ‘How did I get here?’” he admits. “I think the pain of losing my partner was so great, I was trying to kill myself.” When his own dealer told him he needed to cut back on his drug use, he knew something had to change.
He returned to treatment – but a year into his sobriety, his sister was killed. Soon after that, his best friend committed suicide and his father died. In spite of all the grief and tragedy in his life, ANT says, “This time I had surrounded myself with healthy people I had met in recovery, and they carried me.” He remained clean and has now been in recovery for six years. He works as a drug and alcohol counselor while continuing his stand-up career at night.
But ANT says he’s still battling another demon. “There’s a second me living inside, making the worst possible choices, and I can’t seem to say no to it – just like drugs.” His current addiction isn’t a drug – it’s food. Now, at 5’2 ½”, ANT weighs 202 pounds. “My niece says I look like a tomato wearing a belt,” he admits. “Food never lets you down …. well, vegetables will.”
“Food was never an issue before,” says ANT. But in treatment, he was encouraged to eat a little bit of chocolate when he felt a craving rather than turning to drugs. “So my addiction seized on that.”
ANT eats no matter what his emotional state or time of day – pizza, burgers, shakes, fries. “Just the drive to a fast-food restaurant gets me excited, like going to the dope dealer used to.” He’s on medication for hypertension and acid reflux and has developed sleep apnea. He may have suffered a “mini-stroke,” a transient ischemic attack, but he was too afraid to see a neurologist for follow-up. His doctor has warned him that if he doesn’t stop smoking and change his eating habits, “The next time I see you might be on a slab.”
ANT quit smoking a week ago, but he needs help to deal with his relationship with food. “Drug and alcohol addiction can ruin your life, but sometimes food addiction can actually be more difficult to overcome,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork tells him. “You have to eat!” answers ANT.
“The only thing that brings me any comfort anymore is food,” he adds and notes that he’s not the only one who feels this way – audience members are nodding. OB/Gyn Dr. Nita Landry asks if he’s tried any diets – he’s tried many, including meal deliveries, a personal trainer, and liposuction.
ANT admits he is focused on the number on the scale, “because that number means I mean something and I have some value.” He adds, “It seems like it’s mostly women who talk about it, but men feel it too." Psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow tells ANT, “When I see you talk, I see unprocessed grief … and unless we tackle that, no workout, no food regimen, no diet is going to stick.” He offers ANT weekend sessions.
PJ Stahl from Lockbox LA is here as well, to offer ANT free personal training and a membership to his gym. ANT will be taking on PJ’s latest system, Project Steel, “Which will give you that body you want.”
Finally, Home Bistro will provide ANT with healthy home-prepared meals, five days a week, for the next five months. “I’m going to have to learn how to cook on two days, aren’t I?” quips ANT. “You are bringing sexy back!” promises Dr. Landry.
“I just want to be happy,” concludes ANT. “I think that’s all any of us want.”
If you or someone you love is struggling with compulsive eating and food addiction, Overeaters Anonymous can help.