Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Taso Vitsas is 35, 5’10” tall, and currently weighs 210 pounds. In 2014, after his rising weight began causing him anxiety and unhappiness, he decided to get healthier before his upcoming wedding. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
My weight has been an issue since I was a teenager, but it really hit me when I started having anxiety and panic attacks because of it. I own a restaurant, Crown Pizza in Waterford, Conn., and being surrounded by unhealthy food all the time took a toll on me. I got into the bad habit of constantly eating the higher calorie foods that were available to me.
I did not want to live the way I had been living any longer. My clothes weren’t fitting me and activities I once enjoyed, like going to the beach, became depressing. I decided to change my life after I got engaged. The wedding was a couple of years away, so I had time to lose weight. I just wanted to be there for my wife for a long time.
I tackled losing weight by starting to lift weights. That was my main focus for a couple of months — learning about proper form and exercises. I still ate almost the same in the beginning but at least I was lifting every day. I really wanted to establish the habit of working out so I decided not to overhaul my diet while also starting a new exercise routine; I felt it would be too overwhelming. If I did that I was sure I would end up quitting. Eventually, I established a solid routine and started seeing results from lifting. I was burning some fat and gaining muscle.
Next, I focused my attention on my diet. When I began changing my eating habits, I changed one meal at a time. I improved my breakfast, then my lunch, then my dinner. I took baby steps, which ultimately turned into a two-year process.
I felt great while I was making these changes, but I was still never satisfied. A lot of people were telling me that after my wedding I would gain it all back, and my wedding was my motivation for some time. I knew that motivation only lasts for so long; you really need to do it for yourself in order to succeed.
After I lost the weight, I felt amazing. Everything in my life fell into place. I believe when you’re happy, good things happen to you. My business became more successful, my relationship grew stronger because I was no longer complaining about my weight, and I was finally able to buy clothes I had always dreamed of wearing. I had deluded myself into thinking that I looked okay when I was fat.
These days, I look to maintain. I enjoy the food I like (pizza) from time to time and I still go to the gym every day. But I also have no problem taking a couple of days off. Early in my journey, taking a day off might have derailed me permanently, but now I have established such healthy routines that I have more flexibility.
I focus on daily habits and don’t make excuses. Just like I brush my teeth every day, I have to go to the gym every day. Also eating a healthy breakfast is key for me because it starts my day off right.
I continue to strive to improve even more, focusing on new goals keeps me motivated. I still want six-pack abs.
My main struggle is dealing with the ups and downs of weight loss — going up 5 or 10 pounds, then going down can be frustrating. It can also be difficult to make it to the gym every day. There are always little obstacles, like getting injured or working long hours. I found the key is stopping the lows from getting too low. In life you always have ups and downs, but if catch yourself before you go too far down, you will rise higher.
My best advice is to remember to have hope. You can change. You can beat obesity. You can beat anxiety. Take steps forward every day. Think positive thoughts and don’t beat yourself up if you mess up. Just get back on track the next day.
All photos courtesy of Taso Vitsas.
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