Name: Fred Bollaci
Before Weight: 330 pounds
How I Gained It: I struggled with emotional eating since childhood. I grew up in a family of excellent cooks where emotional eating was the default means of coping with stress and emotional turmoil. In my world, food was a substitute for love and acceptance. Looking back, I estimate I ate as much as 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day. I ate whatever I wanted -- in restaurants and in my own kitchen, as I enjoy cooking -- and I didn't exercise at all.
Breaking Point: At age 32, I thought my life was over. I had tried to lose weight many times and repeatedly failed. Every diet I tried felt more like a punishment than a permanent lifestyle change I could stick with forever. I could hardly walk. I had joint pain, sleep apnea and pre-diabetes.
I had reached an emotional low. I felt totally alone and wished my life were over. I knew I had a choice: I could either transform and save my own life, or I was going to die. I finally looked within and found the strength and determination to take back my life. I resolved to do whatever it took to fix my life.
I had to find a way to still be able to enjoy many of the foods I loved, exercise more and most importantly, get to the root of my weight problems.
How I Lost It: I designed a gourmet diet and lifestyle program fit for gourmet food lovers that I anticipate will be published in 2012 called Fred Bollaci's Gourmet Boca Diet. Boca stands for my "Big Old Change in Attitude", and also pays homage to Boca Raton, the beautiful area in South Florida where I live and where I lost the weight eating gourmet meals at home and in the best restaurants.
I sought help for underlying emotional and medical issues, including an undiagnosed hormonal imbalance and a severe testosterone deficiency. I began seeing a therapist to deal with a lifetime of emotional issues, from my parents' divorce to feeling alienated by my peers at school for being the "fat kid".
I also began to exercise, initially by walking slowly, one painful step at a time. At first, I could hardly get to the end of my street, but I persevered. As the weight began to come off, exercise became easier. I started swimming, biking, jogging and lifting weights. Today, depending on my activity level, I average between 1,700 and 2,800 calories a day.
In 12 months, I lost more than 150 pounds. I began running in organized races, and on December 4, 2011, I ran my first marathon. People who haven't seen me in a couple of years don't recognize me; I'm in the best shape of my life! I am living a life I never dreamed could be mine. Looking back over the past year, I can only imagine what the future holds. Instead of dreading or avoiding life, now I am looking forward to the world of possibilities before me!
After Weight: 175 pounds
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