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Discovery versus drudgery

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Discovery versus drudgery by Tony Vassallo of MODA For Men Weight Loss
Discovery versus drudgery by Tony Vassallo

Over the years I’ve noticed a theme: some look at the journey before us as one of discovery where we carve out a new path for ourselves; others seem to view it as drudgery.

Prominent Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has devoted much of her career to the two mindsets theory: that traits once thought to be hard-wired genetic coding such as intelligence, creativity and abilities are not fixed. They are developed and improved by adopting a growth mindset. Those who believe their abilities are fluid and malleable are more likely to grow and change. Benjamin Hardy refers to a growth mindset as “clay that can be transformed through experience, especially in challenging times and new experiences.”

For me, I look at growth mindset as DiscoveryThinking. A discovery mindset brings openness to learning from others on a similar path; a discovery mindset seeks information with a yearning to learn more.

A discovery mindset brings a readiness to make self-care a priority. With a perspective shift, the weight loss project will be a rewarding period of self-discovery. A discovery mindset brings an engagement in the effort needed. Admittedly, I and others may not have initially had that mindset. But we had to transform our point of view towards discovery to succeed. The process, while it had its fair share of angst, frustration and sorrow, has a considerable amount of composure, satisfaction and exhilaration.

“In the struggle lies the joy”

~Maya Angelou

With a willingness to discover, the process is its own reward. With discovery thinking, we reprioritize. With discovery thinking, we commit to the tasks needed to succeed. The effort, time and determination needed to devote towards this project can and should be looked at as a blessing, compelling us to slow down. YES, slow down: it’s a good thing. Humans are the only species on the planet that tend to speed up when lost. All other species slow down, avoiding further despair and harm.

In some circumstances, the transition to a better self will lead to an entire life transformation. With a discovery methodology, we seek change in areas of our lives that need improvement. When we nurture ourselves with positive habits in other areas – such as exercise, quality sleep, moderate amounts of stress, various forms of mediation and hanging around other discovery-minded folks – that positive change bleeds into better eating rituals.

Perhaps you have discovered this already? Have you found other elements of your life improved with better eating?

  • Better moods?

  • More energy?

  • Calmer, clearer thinking?

  • More appreciative and grateful?

  • More organized and tidy?

Discovery thinking allows us to pursue passions that have been sidelined for way too long. These passions serve as healthy coping mechanisms towards our life stressors, replacing food in that role. When we are curious, we seek long-term happiness. We are grateful for what we have and patient for what’s to come.

With a discovery mindset, we seek experiences with our purpose, people we care for and places that connect with our soul. With a discovery mindset, we tend to focus on how to accomplish tasks rather than on the obstacles that may impede us. There is a great deal of emphasis in our journey on what we have to “give up”: confections, chicken wings, fast food, fried food, junk food, etc.

First, let me say I much prefer to say “let go” than “give up.” “Let go” implies an active, serene and pleasurable ridding, whereas as “give up” implies being forced to relinquish something against one’s will.

A discovery mindset placed perspective on what I REALLY “gave up”: the joint pain, the indigestion, the increased likelihood of not being able to provide for loved ones or myself, the acid reflux, sleep apnea, the diabetes, medications, the need to use a seat belt extender, being the default Santa Claus. I gave up the vertical stripes, having to wear black, the Velcro shoes, being referred to as the “big guy.” I gave up the frustration of a long haul flight, sweating from sitting, being winded from a flight of stairs. I gave up needing a cane or walker to walk due to gout, the hypertension, the cardiovascular complications, the brain fog, the lethargy. I gave up the increased risk of dementia, IBS, and NAFLD. Even certain cancers are diminished with healthier living and eating.

Are you ready to discover yourself?




He lost 130 pounds in 2010-11 and has kept it off ever since.

Tony's Shift happened early 2010 inside the change room of a Big & Tall Clothing store. He lost 130 pounds in 16 months and has successfully maintained his weight since.

He detested the reflection he saw in the mirror to the point that he removed all full-length mirrors from his home. He cringed when he was referred to as a “big guy.” His obesity caused him to be treated as a second-class citizen. Reality began to set in. Gaining “just a few pounds” every year, until he started to fear for his future.

He was 37 with a host of medical issues: Type II diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, gout, joint pain, constant indigestion, and acid reflux. Simple tasks like putting on socks, climbing a flight of stairs, fitting into an airplane seat or booth at a restaurant, and getting out of bed became big challenges for him. Every afternoon he would have a sugar crash, leaving him with little energy to get through the rest of the day. He was always sweaty and tired. He began avoiding the outdoors and eventually just avoiding life.

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