People have asked me, “How did you do it? How did you transform yourself in such a short period of time?” For those of you who don’t know me, I am at the gym training every day at 5 AM and have done so religiously for the last 20 years, barring any injuries. I began this 5 AM regimen after the birth of our first child when I realized that no one interrupted you at that time.
My transformation actually started before the pandemic in October of 2019, when my weight crept up to 282 pounds. When I began losing weight, I got down to 260 pounds by November 8, 2019. When the pandemic hit and my sons were sent home, we all lived together again. By September of 2020, my weight went up to 302 pounds. Needless to say, despite the fact that I worked out every day, I was discouraged by this change. I mostly attributed it to the fact that I was eating the snacks that were in the house for my sons.
After graduating from Law School, I was a competitive bodybuilder and, in fact, competed in several contests into my mid-thirties. I would regularly run 5k or 10k a few times a year. For several years, I taught aerobics at the Bethlehem Racquetball Club, which allowed me to maintain a good weight. I was in good shape from age twenty-five to thirty-six, but when our first child was born, I began gaining weight again. I carried this weight for quite some time and finally decided at age sixty that I would work on getting into the same shape I was in when I was thirty.
After the pandemic diet and training program began, I realized that the strategies that worked for me during my bodybuilding days would not really work again. I believe that being on a low-carb diet for an extended period of time caused a lot of health issues in my thirties. This made it difficult to do my job as a mediator, which requires me to be affable for hours at a time.
I began looking for a diet different than those I had tried previously. I have tried the Whole 30 diet, vegetarianism, keto, Warrior Diet, IF, Wild Diet, Sugar Busters, Pritikin, Fatburning Diet, Belly Off, Lean Bodies, Whitaker, and more. Then I stumbled upon the Noom program. When I decided to utilize Noom, my family tried to dissuade me by telling me that I knew more about nutrition than NOOM and that it was not worth the cost. However, the program forced me to be accountable, and after one month, I lost twenty pounds. Noom helped me to look at food much differently than I ever had before. Coming from an Italian family, I thought everyone would eat two to three portions every meal. I was never able to just eat one cookie, rather the whole pack of them. The protocols in the Noom program set me on a different track which also had me start to look at my training differently.
Finding ways to hold myself accountable became an increasingly important part of my transformation. I created a Facebook page where I would take photos of the meals I was eating. Just knowing that other people were looking at the page helped to keep me accountable. Every day after the gym, I would weigh myself and record it on a calendar. Each month I wrote down my goal of how much I would like to lose. Some months I was able to meet the goal, and when I did not, I would take the time to reevaluate. Just the act of writing down a goal and the progress that I made furthered my accountability. Another way I was able to find accountability was within a workout group where we would continually compete with one another as to who was working the hardest.
When it comes to dieting, I would not recommend going with a program that calls for a drastic change in what you’re eating. In my opinion, it is better to start by recording everything you eat for one week so that you are able to get a baseline. Then, you can find something like Noom or My Fitness Pal and make simple changes to what you’re having. For instance, if you drink soda, you can switch to diet soda, but even with that, I found that I was a lot less thirsty when I switched to Pellegrino. Small changes add up over time and taking the time to exercise every day is an important step.
Join a gym, lift weights a few times a week, take a yoga class, go for a walk, ride your bike, do something. And make sure you mix it up. Aside from taking a leisurely walk, don’t do the same workout or exercise every day.