Updated: Apr 1, 2022
August 2021 marks my 10 year anniversary of sustaining my 130 pound weight loss and lifestyle transformation. It was March 2010 when I walked into Big and Tall clothing store in need of suit for an upcoming wedding. The suit that I just purchased several months prior no longer fit. Ironically, that suit was for the funeral of a close friend.
Little did I know the enormous impact that store visit on that afternoon would play over the upcoming decade in my life. A pair of pants served as the catalyst for change. The moment a pair of 48” pants no longer fit is literally ingrained in my brain. I have no idea why I thought a size 48” would fit me in the store when the same size didn’t fit me at home. Another of many examples of my denial? I hold on to that moment ten years later—it serves as a constant reminder of why I took on the journey: the desire for a true lifestyle change, and the fear of the future due to my long list of medical issues. A deep desire for lasting change, to be free of over 130 pounds that I lugged around every moment of the day. To put that into perspective,
I carried five cases of 24 500 ml water bottles on my body over and above my current body weight. The weight that held me back in so many ways. I wanted to say goodbye to the old Tony and be able to greet the new Tony.
When I began my weight loss journey in early 2010, it was triggered by vanity. Thankfully, over time it shifted from vanity to sanity (with a side of vanity). I say “thankfully,” as it’s my much-improved health and energy levels that have been the main motivator for keeping the 130 pounds off.
Sure, looking younger and not having a protruding gut serves as further motivation to keep it off. But as they say, health is truly wealth.
“Treat yourself now like the older person you intend to be.”
I’m sure it’s no surprise: it was not easy, especially in the early days. As cliché as the motto “One day at a time” is, it’s so true. I recall getting so overwhelmed at first. Telling myself “I could never do this.” “This is too difficult.” “It’s not realistic.” “This will take way too long.” “I’m not strong enough.” “This is crazy.” “How will I handle travel?” “How will I cope at social events?” “I love food too much.” The list was endless.
I was able to shut down my lizard brain otherwise known as slick by incorporating small, incremental changes that I knew I could sustain. The “little” changes began to show results such as some weight loss, more energy, and improved daily morning blood glucose levels. I felt more alert, my sleep improved and I had more confidence. As the months passed, I found myself wearing clothes I had not worn in years, my doctor began to reduce my many medications and I started to receive more compliments and encouragement from people in my life.
I look at this anniversary as my new birthday, the day I got a new lease on life and, more importantly, a new brighter outlook and understanding of what really matters. I’ve matured a great deal over the last ten years, especially in the first several months of the journey to ignite and maintain my new mindset. I began to embrace challenges rather than resisting them. I found other coping mechanisms to deal with my life stressors to help crowd out the desire for food.
The far more effective strategy, is a positive distraction—that is, immersing yourself in positive, forward-looking activities you enjoy…whatever it is that is engaging enough, absorbing enough, to distract you from your unhappiness, and is enjoyable and positive. Even relatively neutral activities furnish almost the same magnitude of benefits – things like looking at art, reading a book, taking a leisurely walk in natural surroundings, or spending time with pets.
I looked at my life, took inventory of my priorities and focused on what really mattered: ME. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
I chose the image you see above, of me waving goodbye while smiling. It signifies me saying goodbye to my old ways, goodbye to the way of thinking that lead me to eat in the way I did (a blend of addictive, emotional and stress eating), goodbye to the food that gave me a false sense of comfort and the foods that kept me in a cycle of addictive, unhealthy habits. The photo above says thanks for the memories, but it’s time for me to move on. Goodbye.