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    Posted July 31, 2014 by
    Miami Beach, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    The unexpected solutions to permanent weight loss.

    Growing up I was blessed with great family and friends, active in numerous sports, and always expressing a high level of happiness – typical of most kids his age. It did not take long before my life became extremely busy through balancing football, basketball, baseball, marching band, school, homework and while trying to find time to create a social life. In a struggle for time, I found my solution. I quickly became a regular at fast-food restaurants (McDonalds being my establishment of choice) which allowed quick, easy, cheap and most importantly damn good tasting food. I found my reliance on fast food to be a win-win situation - eating great tasting food and freeing up extra time to do more of what he loved. So I did what any misguided teenager would do. Eat more fast-food and in massive quantities. My eating habits quickly became increasing reliant up fast-food chains to the point where I was addicted to the convenience food factories.

    My eating habits quickly began to take a toll on my body. While growth was pretty normal as a teenager, sadly, mine was not only in height. My weight quickly ballooned with my frequent fast-food visits where I reached a staggering 300+ pounds, which made me another statistic in the plaguing obesity epidemic.

    Growing up in Amsterdam, NY, a community embroidered with a passion for football, my massive size was a force for the Rugged Rams defensive line. My dedication and intense passion for football, allowed me to rationalize the need for my weight. However, after my football career ended, (one NYS Championship later) I realized my excess weight was not just contributing to his life on the football field. I noticed a dramatic change in my social life. Being obese provided ammunition for jokes, and placed a burden on my parent’s food bill. At this point in my life romantic relationships were the new and cool thing. Unfortunately, the closest thing I had to a relationship was Ronald McDonald and my XBOX. Memories forever engrained include asking my coach to be “shirts” instead of “skins” to avoid the girls basketball team practicing across the court to see a guy with larger breasts them. Also, I became a source of comical relief for several humor seekers in pronouncing his last name “Marshmallow” instead of Martuscello.

    Embarrassed, shameful, and stressed with what life was serving me – I finally put my future in my scope and saw a difficult life ahead if I did not rearrange my goals and lifestyle. In my battle to overcome obesity, my family and I lacked the financial resources for professional assistance, which left me with two choices: to accept my condition, or to take self-responsibility for my actions and produce change. With a weak social network for help but armed with a relentless will, tenacious dedication and self-discipline I lost over 120 pounds.

    My weight loss transformation began with the adoption of exercise by transitioning from a regular at McDonalds to my school fitness center. My exercise habit quickly became an addiction as my spare tires were disappearing. Discovering the power of exercise wanted me to understand more. However, there was turning point in preparing a guest lecture presentation for a Physical Activity and Health graduate class on the effects of physical activity and fitness on obesity. Deeply passionate about by this topic I was honored and excited. I spent weeks reading hundreds of research studies, weighing results and trends to present the unbiased educational experience. Truly unbiased, this lecture made me question exercise being the “solution" to my weight loss. Reflecting back, I realized my nutrition drastically shifted throughout my weight loss journey but being very subtle and progressive changes – they went largely unnoticed. This opportunity helped me reexamine my approach and consider the power of nutrition, when compounded over time leads to big results. My new focus shifted toward deepening my understanding nutrition.

    I invested all my free time reading nutrition books, watching documentaries, attending seminars/workshops and preparing presentations. I was so sure that nutrition was the key to unlocking optimal health I even got a job at a health food store in the nutrition/vitamin department. Inline with nutritional education being the solution to people eating problems, I started my book to be "In Control of Food" and developed semesters worth content for my weight training and nutrition class I instructed during graduate studies. I prepared content to help students learn strategies to controlling food and take charge of their lives similar to myself which at first meant understanding basic nutrition. This approach quickly broadened to include marketing, advertising, business, psychology, and sociology - all drivers of nutrition in modern society.

    Several publications and some serious reflecting led to my discovery that nutrition was not the solution to my weight issue. I never hired a dietician, never focused on nutrition with my weight loss but managed to be successful with weight loss. This led to my creation of the “common sense diet”. Every prudent human being is equipped with the knowledge to make healthy food decisions but the problem is they don't. My goals shifted to determining why I choose to lose weight instead of sit back and enjoy the Golden Arches. The answer to weight loss I determined lies in psychology and why we choose to make the decisions we make. Learning how different social and environmental factors influence our decisions has been the cornerstone of my success.

    Looking back my entire journey led to shocking realizations that my lifestyle transformation was not so straightforward. Exercise and nutrition were not the solution but a means to the solution. The solution being the mindset and creating a strong circle of influence where your social and environment create a positive force in making healthy decisions.
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