“Now I’m a Role Model for My Sons and Students”
Rich Vittoria’s weight scared him—and his family. Now he’s 120 pounds lighter and teaching others how to take control of their weight
Vitals: Rich Vittoria, 32, Buffalo, New York
Occupation: Fourth-grade Teacher
Time to Goal: 13 months
The Setback My fourth-grade students never gave me apples. They knew what I liked: cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. Those snacks were a great perk to the job, but then I met a better one: my future wife, Sarah, whose classroom was across the hall. She’s an apple-loving girl, and when I asked her to marry me, I resolved to be a good-looking groom. So I dropped nearly 50 pounds. But I slipped up after our wedding, and my bingeing grew worse after our sons were born. With virtually no free time (and a lazy attitude), I ate things like pizza and peanut butter candy, and ballooned to nearly 300 pounds.
The Wake-Up Call Forget being able to play with my sons—I was afraid I wouldn’t even see them grow up. My blood pressure skyrocketed to 157/100, and my doctor put me on medication. Then I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which forced me to sleep with a mask connected to a machine that blew air into my windpipe to keep it open. The first time I wore it, my 3-year-old son was afraid to say good night to me. That’s when I realized it was time to lose the weight for good. Labor Day 2008 was the first day of my new life.
The Food I started by paring down my plate. I measured my food and learned that my “normal” portions (like a half pound of pasta) were anything but. I don’t eat out as much anymore, but when I do, I look at nutrition info online and decide beforehand what I’ll eat. I’m also the family cook, and I load our meals with vegetable sides. Instead of buying lunch at work, I pack one, like tuna on a wrap plus some celery and peanut butter. I still have my sweet tooth, but that’s okay: If you deprive yourself of desserts entirely, you’ll go insane. I just keep the portion sizes small.
The Fitness The day I started exercising, I set out to run a mile—and made it past about six houses. But I wasn’t discouraged. I just tried to run a little farther each time. Now I run 3 miles a day. As my stamina increased, I started weight training, doing exercises like forward lunges and squats. I also work my core by doing side planks for as long as I can hold them. Most important, I never skip a workout. Since I don’t play hooky from work, I figure there’s no reason to play hooky from exercising.
The Reward My sleep apnea and snoring have disappeared, and I no longer need the machine. In a little over a year, I shed 14 inches from my waist. Finally, I look and feel like the professional teacher I am. But even better than that, I’m instilling healthy values in those around me. Every day after my workout, my 4-year-old asks about my run. And now my students bring carrots and other healthful food for their snacks. As these kids grow up, I know they’ll think fitness and healthy eating are as essential to their school day as doing homework or attending class. It’s the best lesson I’ve ever taught them.
Originally posted 2012-06-03 12:59:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter