Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Nicholas La Monaco is 32 years old and 5’6” tall, and he currently weighs 147 pounds. In 2017, after realizing what a hindrance his weight had become to his daily life, he decided to give up junk food and start exercising consistently. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
My weight affected my health and daily life for a long time. The final breaking point was in early November 2017, when I spent an entire afternoon making a special stool so that I could sit down and tie my shoes. I remember the next morning, when I sat on it, just breaking down in tears. I started realizing how much of my life was negatively influenced by my weight.
It was on my birthday, Nov. 7, when I knew that if I continued to wait or make excuses, it would never happen. I resolved to change my ways and lose weight, sitting right there on that stool. Not next Monday, not after the holidays, right now. I realized that this was something I had been neglecting for 10 years, and if I put it off anymore for any reason, I might just turn around and another 10 years would have gone by.
I had accepted the fact that my weight was merely the consequence of many small choices over the years. And it would be just as unrealistic to think that I could just change everything overnight. There are a lot of special diets out there that can get quick results, but I wanted a permanent, sustainable change to not only lose this weight but keep it off.
So I started with a small change every fews day or every week. First, I stopped eating fast food. Next, I decided to try smaller portions of only home-cooked food and avoid any product with added sugar. Shortly after New Year’s, I was astonished when I weighed myself again and saw I had lost 24 pounds already.
I like the term “perimeter diet” because I pretty much only eat food from the perimeter of the grocery store. By doing this, you end up with fresh meat, produce, nuts, dairy, whole grain breads, etc. And none of the packaged junk, and especially not the unhealthy versions of otherwise healthy foods. For example, I’ll buy plain yogurt and an apple, rather than an apple flavored yogurt. The nutrition facts and overall quality speak for themselves.
Then I started counting calories, tracking my calories daily and overall progress weekly using an app, cutting out diet soda and, most of all, staying dedicated and consistent no matter what life threw at me. Nothing would halt my journey. If a week went by without progress, I tried something different or made a change. I resolved to accept no excuses, ever.
As for exercise, I didn’t have a gym membership, I work retail hours, and during this period I also became a father. So I do all my workouts at home. I started with a barbell and homemade wooden bench in my basement, doing basic weight lifting three days a week. I was so out of shape at the start that I’d have to roll off the bench and could barely exercise for 10 minutes. As time went by, I began to incorporate calisthenics. It’s incredible how much exercise you can get with just basic movements like dead lifts, squats, pushups, crunches and pull-ups.
At first, it felt like a punishment. I’d promise myself that I’d lose 10 pounds and then go eat a pizza. At the start, it was only about losing weight, the number on the scale, and something physical. But as the months went by, I began to learn more about myself than I ever imagined. I learned that my weight gain was merely a symptom of a larger problem of self-neglect. I learned not to take excuses, not from myself or anyone else. I learned that the path to a better life lay in my attitude and choices, not my body. My wife was incredibly supportive. One night she made it an event to throw out all the junk food in the house. I’d think about what would happen to her, or my son, if I was too unhealthy to go about life anymore. I wanted to feel better, not just look better.
Each step along the way brought new milestones, and instead of “cheat days” I began to instead look forward to the next milestone. I watched as my clothing went from size 3XL to S. My waist from 44 to 28. My glasses, shoes and wedding band no longer fit. But it wasn’t the physical benefits that I was most happy to gain. It was when I suddenly had the energy to go through my normal day and the confidence to speak with conviction and sincerity at my brother’s wedding. I’m far more outgoing at work and social events, I no longer needed to hide from photos, and I had the newfound clarity to forgive the shortcomings of others and focus on inspiration and improvement, rather than jealousy and malice.
I no longer refer to it as weight loss, but as life gain. It isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Every single part of my life changed in some way, whether it was minor things like realizing I had adjusted the seats in my car so far back to seeing how differently people treated me. It’s made me overall a much more outgoing and positive person, and that has changed so many other parts of my life at work, at home and in my marriage.
I still follow the “perimeter diet,” but at a maintenance rate of daily calories. I don’t shy away from carbs or even fats, and get plenty of protein. I simply eat whole foods in moderation. I feel that a lot of people overcomplicate things. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be extreme; it’s actually quite simple. I think what happens is many of us try so many fad diets over the years with all these varying claims that it seems strange to just try the simplest thing like eating whole foods in moderation. I enjoy cooking and making all sorts of dishes, as nothing is really off-limits except packaged and premade foods, as well as foods with added sugar.
Nowadays I have an exercise routine that is four days a week of calisthenics and two days of basic weight lifting. I vary my workouts — some days it’s just heavy dead lifts and such, most days it’s pull-ups and sit-ups and so forth. Some days it’s a mix of both; the key is to always keep it changing. Eventually, I bought myself some proper equipment for the basement and decorated my space with all sorts of fantasy- and heavy-metal-themed decorations. I’ve always been into fantasy, gaming, Magic: The Gathering … that sort of stuff. I’m a huge nerd. You should see the looks I get these days when I mention to people that I don’t follow sports!
I don’t “cheat” because I’m only cheating myself. I remain consistent with my eating habits and exercise routine no matter how busy the day gets. It doesn’t matter what junk food is in the break room because I always pack a lunch. I keep a change of clothes in my car and have done countless calisthenics workouts in parks, parking lots, even maintenance hallways on days I couldn’t find time at home.
At the end of the day, it comes down to how bad you want it and how consistent you can be. A healthy lifestyle is about making the right choices month after month, not just for a few days. There is no end to this journey. It’s something done for life.
I’ll indulge here and there on a holiday, but if I’ve kept a consistent exercise and healthy eating routine for 355-plus days a year, what damage could a few holidays possibly do? It’s when “cheat meal” becomes “cheat week” that damage is done.
The new life I have gained has left me a changed man. It’s bettered me in every way, not just physically, and being a healthy, happy example for my family is a joy I can’t even begin to describe. I want to teach my family, friends and everyone I know the lessons I have learned about dedication, consistency, accountability and honesty. I want to share my story in the hopes of motivating and inspiring others.
Sometimes I’ll wake up in the morning after a long shift and a short sleep and think I’m too tired to go exercise. I’ll think maybe I should just go ahead and overeat today, but then I remember all that I have gained and realize it just simply is not worth it.
Do something now. Stop thinking about it, stop planning, stop putting it off, and make one simple change right now. It can be something small, maybe go throw out all the junk food in your house. Or you can start packing lunch instead of eating fast food. Spend 15 minutes doing some basic exercises in your living room three times this week. You have to start somewhere and no step on the journey is too small. The only thing that matters is that you do something, that today you did better than yesterday, that you stopped making excuses and started making progress. You’ll be amazed how far you can go.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
Have a weight-loss win to share? We want to hear it! Tell us at YStyleBeauty@yahoo.com.
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