25, Barrie, Ont.
Pounds dropped: 180
Turning point: I come from a family of Italian-restaurant owners and caterers. So eating delicious, heavy meals was part of my life. Fast food too, since everyone was busy with the business. I don’t blame my mom at all. I was aware of my choices and I knew I was big. She’d bring me lunch every day. I remember one kid at school saying: “If my mom cooked like your mom, I’d be fat too.”
At 15 years old, I was 380 pounds. My family was on vacation in Rome and I saw a video of myself walking from behind: I was waddling so badly that my long hair was whooshing from side to side. I remember watching that and knew I needed to change: It was either do or die.
My method: I started going to the gym before I was prepared to make a change in my diet. I’d drive 20 minutes to the gym, last only five minutes on the elliptical, then drive 20 minutes home. It was hard and it was a struggle, but from there it snowballed. Soon I was going for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes. Eventually I was going for an hour, five times a week.
But I was still very much addicted to fast food. I’d be showering at the gym and already thinking what I’d have at the McDonald’s drive thru on my way home. I’d hang out there with my friends, too – three or four times a day, at all hours, we’d go for burgers. I’d have two at a time. So I changed my eating habits and my social behaviour. I told my friends they’d have to go in the restaurant while I stayed in my car. Little by little, I changed my eating habits as my exercise increased: I figured I was working so hard, why ruin it with putting junk back into my body.
Now I eat five meals a day, with lean proteins, vegetables and clean carbs, like sweet potato and beans. Breakfast went from fast food to six egg whites and wheat bran.
I started a Facebook page, just so my friends could see my weight loss and encourage me to keep going. Soon, strangers were contacting me – the page has grown to 700 fans! I wanted to help others so I got certified as a personal trainer, specializing in extreme weight loss.
One hundred and eighty pounds lighter, I’m entering fitness competitions, training five times a week and helping others get healthy. I couldn’t be happier.
My kryptonite: I cannot resist oatmeal chocolate cookies. And I’ll celebrate with my clients: When they hit a personal goal,we’ll go for sushi and I’ll get the deep fried yam tempura. So good!
This interview has been condensed and edited.
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