Tony Vassallo spent the better part of 30 years being morbidly obese. His top weight was just over 300 pounds which occurred when he was 37 years of age. After losing 130 pounds in 2010 he wondered if he would be just another statistic who would regain the weight? Determined to keep the weight off, Tony embarked on a journey to learn everything he could about weight loss, nutrition and food addiction. This yearning to learn more allowed Tony to leave a 15 year career in information technology to pursue a career helping others towards sustained weight loss.
In May of 2016, The New York Times published a story “After The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight” which received a great deal of attention. Tony was deeply frustrated by the story for many reasons. He felt the story implied that weight loss is impossible and therefore a waste of time, while Tony knew from his own experiences that it could be done. Around the same time, a client of Tony’s and co-producer of the film, Jason Donville also became fascinated with the idea that a small segment of the population appeared to have succeeded with permanent weight loss.
What is it about this group of that allowed them to succeed in losing their excess weight and keeping it off? Tony knew there were many others who had achieved what he had achieved and he had his own theories based on his own personal experience as to why they had succeeded. But Tony had met very few of them in person. Thus, the film “Follow Me” is Tony’s journey to meet, listen to and understand others who have succeeded at sustained weight loss. The objective of the film is therefore to allow others that struggle with weight and related illnesses tied to obesity to hear various points of view from those that lived a similar experience. The film is also about hope.
The journey “Follow Me” had producer Tony Vassallo meet 15 diverse people from across Canada and the United States. The 15 included medical doctors, students, business professionals, writers, tradesmen, a university professor, a counsellor, a culinary professional, and even a psychotherapist. Tony was accompanied on his journey by first time Film Director Nicholas Li, who does an extraordinary job of capturing the visual beauty of the places Tony visited on the journey while also amalgamating all these incredible messages of hope into an entertaining and thought provoking look at sustained weight loss.