Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Life Changing Experience

This is my son, Tony.....

If you had to guess, what do you think he has in common with this kid?

The correct answer is EVERYTHING because they are the same person.  I am going to share a very personal story with you today, one that makes me choke back tears of emotion.  I am doing this with Tony's permission because it was a journey of discovery, perserverance and dedication.  It is Tony's story of TRIUMPH and VICTORY!

This is Tony in March of 2009, on his 16th birthday. 

Tony wasn't always overweight.  When he was born he only weighed 6 and a half pounds.  He was a small and thin kid until 5th grade.  That was not an easy year.  He changed grammar schools, his best friend moved away, and his older brother had cancer.  Tony's response to all the turmoil in his life was to sit on his computer and play Runescape, sit alone in his room and play his playstation and eat a lot.  He drank several cokes per day.  He loved pizza, and nachos and chicken McNuggets.  And cookies.  And chips.  But not fruit or salad - ever.  You get the picture.

As Tony's mom I was frustrated and a nag.  I was constantly after him to stop eating, eat less, eat right, drink water, eat an apple, don't eat after 7 at night, eat a proper breakfast.  Ugh.  I tried everything to help him lose weight.  He tried baseball and basketball, I made him exercise and go bike riding.  But to tell you the truth, Tony was a grazer and every time he walked through the kitchen he was eating.  And the more I bugged him about it, the more he would sneak food into his room and eat in solitude.  It was a vicious and frustrating cycle.  Tony would occasionally try a diet but after a week of starving himself he would step on the scale and see that he hadn't lost a pound for his efforts and it would send him reeling back to the kitchen and back to his bad eating habits. 

This is Tony on his 17th birthday and this is the one picture that totally breaks my heart.  Does this look like a happy kid to you? 

About 2 months later Tony came to me and told me he wanted to go back on a diet.  He said he wanted to do it HIS way with no interference from me and he said he was determined to lose some weight this time.   Frankly, I was at the end of my rope and I was ready for him to try just about anything.  Honestly, he had tried losing weight so many times that I wasn't holding out much hope for this attempt either.  I told him to do what he had to do as long as he didn't starve himself.  Silently I said a prayer to God to PLEASE just let this kid lose some damn weight this time.

Day 1  Middle of May 2010  Weight 215 lbs

When Tony started this diet he was close to wearing XXL shirts and size 40 pants.  He was wearing larger clothes than his father.  At this time he had about 2 weeks left of his Junior year in high school. 

At first his diet consisted of cutting out ALL junk food like candy, cookies, chips, coke and fast food. He mainly ate fruit for breakfast, small lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and dinner was pasta, steak, chicken or pork chops.

At the end of 2 weeks he had lost 11 pounds.  He went to his Junior Prom with a girl "friend" but this was actually the girl he really wanted to date.  Remember this because we'll come back to this later.  This is Tony in his first tux.  Nobody had noticed yet that he had lost any weight.

By the end of June 2010 he was starting to see some small results.  His tee shirts were actually starting to sag on him a little.  I also noticed that he was beginning to get out of the house more and doing things like fishing  and going for long walks.

Fourth of July weekend found him out on a jet ski with a smile on his face and down to size large shirts and 36 pants.

His meals by now were consisting of basically the same as before, no junk food at all, but he was doing a lot more exercise.  Any time he wanted a snack he ate an apple.  He ate a LOT of apples.

I think the real turning point for Tony came when he started his Senior year of high school.  When school started back up at the end of August kids were coming up to him and asking him how much weight he had lost.  One teacher actually asked him if he was sick.  Tony started going to the gym every day after school and working out for an hour to an hour and a half.  By this time he weighed 175 pounds and his old jeans no longer stayed up around his waist.

Around this time I started to notice a huge difference in Tony's outlook and attitude.  He started researching nutritional values of the food he was eating, looking at protein powders and taking vitamins.  He expanded his workout methods to include a punching bag and doing sit ups.   And suddenly he started dating.  Remember that girl I told you about?  The one he took to the prom as a friend?  The 2 of them were starting to spend more time together.

By Christmas Tony had lost 70 pounds and weighed 145 pounds.

Slowly, but surely, Tony was taking control of his life.  And he was smiling a whole lot more.  Kids at school were asking his advice in the gym and telling him how good he looked.  By January 2011 he had lost a total of 80 pounds and weighed 135.  By his 18th birthday in March 2011, he was wearing a size small shirt and size 32 pants.  By then Tony and Alex had been dating 6 months.

Tony's diet consisted of oatmeal, egg whites and natural peanut butter for breakfast.  Lunch is whole grain bread with turkey and fresh spinach OR a peanut butter sandwich, some almonds, veggies like broccoli, celery or a salad.  And dinner is usually chicken, pork chops, steak, tilapia or salmon with whole wheat tortilla's, whole wheat pasta or oatmeal.  This diet new eating habits for life really works for him.

By the beginning of April 2011, Tony had maintained his weight of 135 for over 3 months and had started building up some muscle mass.  Here's Tony in a pair of his old jeans.... No shit - can you believe this kid????

Remember last year when Tony went to his Junior Prom?  He weighed 215.  This year, for his Senior Prom, he weighed 135 pounds and went with the girl he always wanted! 

Now doesn't that smile on his face just sum it all up?

So here he is at his graduation, 80 pounds lighter and so much happier.

He and Alex have been dating for 11 months.  He has maintained his current weight successfully for 7 months.  He has learned how to eat properly and how to incorperate exercise into his life.  He lives by a few basic rules..... Be active every day.  Eat healthy when possible.  Have an occassional cheat meal on a day when you are overly active.  Find a strong motive to keep you on course.  Always believe in yourself.

I can't begin to tell you how proud of him I am.  He did it all himself.  He is happier and healthier than he has ever been.


  1. Oh Kim! He looks fantastic! He also looks happy and healthy! My daughters have jumped on the get fit band wagon...I'm hoping my son will, too. Congrats to Tony for all the hard work and dedication it takes to make a lifestyle change!

  2. Wow Kim, what an amazing story. Thankfully Tony sees eating changes as a lifestyle not a quick fix. The smile on his face says it all. He needs to come sharks tooth hunting :D

    Take good care,


  3. Way to go, Tony! I know how difficult all that is. I weigh 75 pounds less than I did several years ago an have been able to keep it off for about 4 years. I'm 32, so that he was able to do this at his young he is so much the better. I like that you were able to strike through "diet" and say "lifestyle" instead. He is way ahead of the game. I "dieted" for years, but it wasn't until a) my wife and I decided we wanted to have a baby, and b) I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food that I realized a lifestyle change was different than a diet. I didn't want my child (we now have an amazing 17 month old daughter that already eats better than I did - talk about a good head start) to see my difficulties and habits. So, I made a huge change. By the way the book isn't about dieting or losing weight at all, it's about food, and it's great. I highly recommend it. My wife and I eat a lot, but we eat really healthy food. The great thing about our new eating habits is how it helps keep the weight off. I worked out a lot before our daughter was born, the didn't much for about a year, and only in the last 6 months been able to find 1-2 days a week for a quality workout. However, I haven't gained any weight back at all, because of my lifestyle change on eating. Thank you for sharing this thank Tony for letting you, and keep it up! You're on the right track!

  4. I freaking LOVE this story!
    First of all Tony my man, you are an inspiration! You showed the world and most importantly yourself that you don't have to just live with it, we can change but that HAS TO start with you. It's a deep meaningful change and an internal shift of lifestyles. Down the road when you are faced with challenges in your life, you know, you have the power to overcome anything!Way to go!
    Second of all, Kim, it takes balls to share this story and so many parents actually blame themselves for these types of things. We can only support our kids and pray they make the right choices. This story has a happy ending but for so many kids today who not only face obesity, they face peer pressure, drugs, fad diets, dangerous designer chemicals, bullying, depression and ultimately lose the battle and forfeit their life. Tony took the tough steeps but I am sure he had you and your whole family supporting him all the way.
    Thank you so much for sharing! Really, thanks!

  5. Kim, this is so neat....Bloodhounded is right...Tony is an inspiration!! I need to lose at least 60 pounds and have let excuse after excuse beat me!! I will come back to this entry often...I know I can do it...but as Tony said It's up to ME and ME alone!!

    Thanks so much for sharing...It mean's more than you know!!



  6. Thank you EVERYONE for your kind and encouraging comments. This was a difficult post for me to do. Tony and I have been talking and I think we are going to start a weekly series hosted by Tony called "Tony's Tips!" He is going to post diet (new eating habit) tips and info along with exercise strategies. I think it will be fun and informative. Stay tuned!

  7. As Tony's aunt, I am super proud of him and SO impressed. I give him so much credit for having the willpower to do this. Anyone can diet for a day or a week but something clicked that gave him the courage, the inspiration and the dedication needed to stick with this for as long as he has. I think it would be helpful to others who are struggling with their weight, if he could express in his new blog what it was exactly that brought about this major change. As you said, he seems so much happier now and I'm happy for him. I wish him only the best.

  8. Thanks Laurie: Tony will sure appreciate hearing that!

  9. I think the amazing part of this story is that he did it himself. In general we are a people who need some outside motivation/pushing/harping and to think that all came from within him is outstanding. He worked hard for the results and that's bound to make them lasting results.

  10. What an amazing story...and inspiration. Your son totally rocks just for being as young as he is and doing something about his health before it is too late.

  11. Many thanks for posting this amazing and inspirational story for us to read. I'm a 41yr old guy and have struggled with my weight all my life. I have had my successes along the way losing 50 pounds the other year but unlike Your son havent managed to maintain it. But reading this has inspired me to try to get down to my target weight again and keep it off this time. Please pass on my best wishes to him for the future as I am sure he will go places with his drive and determination... Well Done!!!

  12. Anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice note. I hope you come back. Please see the entire list of Tony's Tips. They are at the top of my blog, under their own separate TAB. Please come back and let us know how you're doing. If you have any questions for Tony, just ask!

  13. I can't believe I hadn't read this before! I guess I missed it 'cause it was posted when I was on holiday in Mallorca with no internet for a week, had too much to catch up with everything when I came back...

    What a wonderful and amazing story! Both you and he have every write to feel immensly proud! I wish I could find the inner strength to do such a change to my life. BRAVO!!! :o)


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