A severely obese man in Canada was inspired to lose more than half his body weight after his size interfered with a wildfire evacuation.
Tony Bussey was 41 years old and weighed 567 pounds when he and others had to be evacuated from a fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Bussey and others in the area had to be flown out Fort McMurray for their safety, but Bussey needed two seats on the plane because of his size.
Bussey tells Yahoo Lifestyle that’s when he hit “rock bottom.” “Just realizing that people were having to stay behind longer to get evacuated because I was too big to sit next to on a plane — that had such a profound effect on me,” he says, adding that he was “huge” at the time and that “life was horrible” for him.
After that rescue, he made changes immediately. He started walking the next morning, which was painful at first. “I would get out of breath just walking to my car,” he says. He began by walking five minutes at a time and slowly bumped up the amount of time he spent on his feet. Bussey also dramatically altered his diet. He cut out all sugar, junk food, processed food, soda, and pasta, and he started eating more vegetables, meats, chicken, and fish. He also no longer eats after 6 p.m. He used to drink his coffee with three sugars and three creamers, but now he has it black. “The weight just started coming off,” he says.
Two years later, Bussey is 326 pounds lighter. “I feel amazing, and I feel relieved,” Bussey says. “When you’re that size, there’s not a day goes by that you don’t wish you were somebody else, that you were just normal. Finally, I’m that person.”
Choosing a diet that sticks and making lifestyle changes for weight loss are notoriously difficult. People often have difficulty sticking with a diet because the one they choose is too restrictive, they want to lose weight too quickly, or they try to go overboard with exercise in a way that’s not sustainable, Gina Keatley, a nutritionist practicing in New York City, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Having inspiration to lose weight as Bussey did can be incredibly helpful, Julie Upton, a dietician and co-founder of Appetite for Health, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Sometimes you just need a life-altering, kick-in-the-pants moment of reckoning to provide you with the motivation to make behavior changes,” she says. Change is hard, Upton adds, and it’s especially difficult when you don’t have motivation to turn to when temptation surfaces.
Clearly, not everyone who wants to lose weight will find themselves in a profound situation as Bussey did, but there are ways to help find your own motivation, Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, an instructor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She recommends getting introspective and thinking about what really matters to you. For many people, being a parent drives them, and knowing that weight loss could mean that you’ll be around longer for your children can help. For others, it may be that they want to enjoy life to the fullest or be able to pursue career aspirations that their weight is preventing them from doing now. “Each person has their own connection with their motivator,” Stanford says. “This is what you can use to drive you.”
Bussey says he’s thrilled that he can now put on his socks by himself and buy regular-size clothes. “I feel amazing,” he says. “It’s like a dream come true.”
He also wants others who are in the same situation as he was to know that change is possible. “You’re not destined to stay that way the rest of your life,” he says. “I was 41 when I started this. If I can do it, anyone can.”
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