Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

His dream of seeing the country, while losing weight, takes off

In his travels, Eric Kramp plans to eat only at Wendy’s like this one at 56th Street and Fowler Avenue in Temple Terrace.


In his travels, Eric Kramp plans to eat only at Wendy’s like this one at 56th Street and Fowler Avenue in Temple Terrace.


Eric Kramp isn't dying any time soon, he hopes, and he hasn't struck it rich.

But, at 35, he's quitting his job and hitting the road to see new places and meet new people. He says he has to.

His cubicle is killing him.

Kramp started working as a medical bills processor about four years ago. All day long, five days a week, he sits in a cubicle listening to talk radio and logging in lab results.

For lunch, he heads to the nearest fast-food joint. Every few hours, he hits the vending machine. Little by little, he's gained 100 pounds, hitting 326.

Last week, his doctor said his cholesterol was dangerously high and put him on a low-fat diet. "Everything is bad,'' Kramp said. "Just as I figured.''

• • •

Originally from South Dakota, Kramp moved to the Tampa area in 1997 to live near the beach. Athletic in high school, he loved the idea of playing tennis outdoors in March.

Kramp didn't flinch at turning 30, but panicked when 35 loomed. Tragedies struck a few of his co-workers. Life seemed so fragile.

"I started thinking about life, in general,'' he said. "When you sit all day long, you question a lot of things like existence and purpose and how long am I going to be here?''

About a year ago, Kramp started putting his dream of traveling the country in motion. He moved in with friends in Temple Terrace to save money and gave away his dog.

Last week he left his job at Quest Diagnostics. He leaves town today, or Tuesday at the latest. His first stop: Mobile, Ala.

• • •

Kramp plans to visit all 50 states and several cities in Canada and Mexico, logging an anticipated 15,000 miles in the cheapest rental car he can find. Along the way, he'll couch surf — stay with strangers who offer their couches to travelers for free. He'll also play tennis in every state.

Kramp intends to shed many of the pounds he's gained. He plans to eat nothing but salads, side dishes and items from Wendy's Super Value menu. He'll keep an emergency supply in a cooler for places that don't have a Wendy's.

Kramp insists he's not trying to copy Jared Fogle, who lost 240 pounds eating Subway subs. He did the Wendy's diet during high school and lost 20 pounds. He knows it works.

He also knows that day after day of chili, side Caesar salads and mandarin orange cups will get old — and could backfire. "It would be funny if I came back 50 pounds heavier,'' he said. "But I doubt it.''

He expects the journey to last 80 days and cost $6,000. He'll blog about the experience on his Web site,, and hopes to write a book about it.

"I have a list of things I want to do and this is one of them,'' he said.

• • •

Kramp initially planned to take a leave of absence from work. His boss was all for it and prepared the paperwork. Then the news came from corporate: denied.

Deflated, Kramp hesitated to leave. But with encouragement from his boss to follow his heart, he quit.

"There's so many people who have dreams and they just don't follow them,'' said Rita Hill, his supervisor at Quest Diagnostics.

Hill promised to help him find a job when he returns but can't guarantee it. She hopes at least he stays in touch.

Kramp doesn't know what he'll do. He's got miles of road to think about it.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Susan Thurston can be reached at

His dream of seeing the country, while losing weight, takes off 09/07/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 7, 2008 10:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.