Retired NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal is making a comeback — not to professional basketball but to the top physical shape he once had when dominating the courts.
At age 49, the four-time NBA champ has improved his diet and is working out in the gym. Shaq told Men’s Journal that his strict diet and exercise regimen helped him to reclaim the six-pack abs he last had in 2006 playing for the Miami Heat.
A series of personal tragedies last year put the former all-star in a dark place in his life, leaving him inactive and gaining weight.
“My sister passed away before Kobe [Bryant]. And then Kobe passed away and then I had 28 other people pass away.  was a really bad year and I didn’t want to do anything,” he stated. “So, when you don’t want to do anything, but you need to stay out of trouble, there’s two things you can do: eat and Netflix.”
Shaq said one of his weaknesses was his love of sandwiches.
“My problem is, I’ve always been a sandwich guy,” the 7-footer admitted. “Sandwich for lunch, sandwich for dinner, sandwich for snack. And when all of that was going on last year, I couldn’t sleep. So, I’d wake up at three in the morning and make a sandwich, at five in the morning and make a sandwich.”
After a while, Shaq looked in the mirror and didn’t like what he saw. He decided to switch to a low-carb diet.
“No more bread, no more late-night lemon Oreos, no more Entenmann’s cakes, none of that,” he vowed to himself.
He has kept it going for six months, replacing those high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables, protein shakes, fish and chicken. Eating small portions was another key to his new diet that helped him lose 25 to 30 pounds.
“I started to see stuff that I haven’t seen in 20 to 30 years—like a six-pack. And I haven’t had one of those since I was on the 2006 Miami Heat,” he said.
He noted that part of his motivation came from seeing a picture of a man who looked about 70 years old but was muscular and healthy.
“You know the crazy thing is, I’m like a little kid every time I walk by a mirror. Especially if I eat a cookie or something, I think, ‘Oh my God, my six-pack is gone.’ And then I go to the mirror and see, ‘Oh, it’s still there,’” he said.