Everyone has a story that motivates them. I know that I’ve had a ton of motivational stories that I’ve read that has given me the urge to want to better myself, but there is someone in particular that I wanted to take a moment to talk about. He’s one of those people who always have a positive thing to say. He kept us all updated on his weight loss, it’s truly been an incredible journey to follow.
His name is David Vasconi, a police officer in Washington. I met Dave through Calorie Count, and he has always been a positive aura throughout the forums. His story starts back in 2007 at 42 years old and 6’ 3” he stepped on the scale at a doctor’s office. It read 408 pounds. In his first month he started off with walking short distances about four times a week, and eating foods that were all low in calories, carbs, fats, sodium and that had no refined sugar.
That’s crazy to think about! I know how impossible it felt for me to just start counting calories, everything else just seemed overwhelming, but Dave jumped right into it. And he hasn’t looked back.
In 20 months he lost a whopping 158 pounds! The scale then read 250 pounds! Dave lost his weight relatively slowly, maintaining a healthy weight loss weight that will ensure that he will have an easier time keeping this weight off!
In November 2011, Dave decided to start eating vegan. He lost 26 pounds doing this.
On January 22, 2012 Dave posted in a forum that he was 220!
And then on February 10th, I got a message from him saying that he weighs 213! Weighing what he was back in high school! He has lost an incredible 22 inches in his waist!
He has lost 195 pounds!
He is half his size that he started at!
He has lost one of me!
I wanted to share a couple links with you all, right from his CC page.
http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110718/LIVING/707189834 – article
http://www.marysvilleglobe.com/lifestyle/115728309.html – video
http://marysville.komonews.com/news/health/there-not-food-world-tastes-good-fit-feels/654478 – Video
They are definitely worth taking a look, at this point in these videos he was 35 heavier than he is now.
I did want to ask Dave a few questions about his weight loss journey, so here they are, for your enjoyment.
Me: What was the main reason you wanted to lose weight?
Dave: I woke up one morning in December of 2007 with lower back pain. I was in so much pain that I ended up missing work and going to see my doctor. When they weighed me at the doctor’s office I weighed 408 pounds and I was honestly devastated. I was given a week to recover from my lower back strain during which time I pondered my life and ultimately decided I needed to change how I ate, with hope of simply feeling better. It snowballed from there. I created a protein based, low calorie, low carb. Low fat, low sodium, low natural sugar, and refined sugar free diet and never looked back. 20 months later I had lost 150 pounds which I kept off for 18 months before having an extended full abdominoplasty surgery to remove the residual skin and fat that would otherwise haunt me for the rest of my life. Recently, I changed my diet to vegan and in 8 weeks I’ve lost 35 pounds for a grand total of 195 pounds lost. I currently weigh 213 pounds. My start weight was 408 and I use to wear size 58 pants and sixe 5XL shirts. Today I wear size 36 jeans and xl shirts and live is amazing!
Me: What are your top 5 favorite foods?
Dave: Keeping in mind that I’m vegan these days, my idea of a treat is some soy crisps (like a rice cake but made from soy) or maybe some mixed nuts, or some fresh veggies dipped in hummus. Kinda boring but I enjoy it. I did have a veggie pizza with dairy free grated cheese and it was actually very tasty.
Healthy non vegan favorites:
Grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts
Grilled lean ground turkey patties
Turkey taco salad
Grilled salmon with stir fry veggies
Burger and fries
Me: Were there any downsides to your journey?
Dave: As I lost my weight, I did have to buy new uniform pants about every 3 months and they cost about 90.00 a pair. We get a uniform allowance each year but it’s not enough to buy several pair of these pants along with the other stuff we need to buy each year like boots. So my Commander authorized me to but the 511 tactical BDU pants which are 35.00 each so I would be able to afford them as I shrunk. As for my uniform shirts, I had a friend of mine, who is a seamstress in the city I work for, take in my uniform shirts. She took in a total of 19 inches on my shirts before they would no longer work at which time I finally bought new shirts and started the process all over again with her taking them in every 4 or so months. Police uniform shirts are about $100.00 each. Other than that, I have always had the most amazing support from friends, co-workers, and family. I wanted to lose my weight so badly that I would not allow anything to stand in my way.
4. What kind of exercising do you do?
Dave: I started out simply walking. I was huge and very out of shape so I knew I needed to start out slow. I also knew that I didn’t want to overdo it because I knew from past experience that if I over did it I would be sore and that might hinder my desire to continue. From there, as I lost my weight, I increased my distance and time. I also first started out using the resistance bands for strength training. As I lost my weight I graduated to free weights and a heavy bag for cardio and have been addicted to lifting weights ever since. I also built a 5 inch step out of scrap 2X4’s and often stair stepped for 20 minutes while watching TV. As I approached my goal weight I began running which felt so great. As a morbidly obese man I actually dreamed about running so to be able to actually run 2 miles is an accomplishment I’m very proud of. My first 2 mile run without stopping was on Thanksgiving morning 2011. I will never forget that! Today, I work out five to six days a week doing both cardio and strength training workouts and my goal is to build my body as I slowly lean out these last few pounds. My friends are for the first time starting to tell me I’ve lost enough but I really want to lose 200 pounds total so that’s what I’m going to do. I will maintain my weight at 208 pounds. I haven’t weighed 213 since high school.
Me: What tools did you use to start?
Dave: First thing I did was make a list of every food I had ever eaten. The list was long and very startling. It allowed me to realize how poorly I was eating and allowed me to create an eating program that would ultimately change my life. I also researched how the metabolism works, how to avoid a weight loss plateau, how weights and cardio combined can be the most beneficial when it comes to weight loss, and how natural and refined sugar affect blood sugar levels and metabolism in two very different ways. I also learned about carbs and the role they play in our bodies and how carbs affect weight loss. I learned about the importance of water and weight loss and incorporated a minimum of ½ gallon into my daily diet. I used a calorie calculator to determine how many calories I needed each day to see a 1000 calorie a day deficit which equates to 2 pounds of fat loss per week which my doctor said was very safe and would likely yield long term results. He was right! I also used caloriecount.com for support and to look up food for calorie, fat, and carb information. I also reminded myself each day that I was eating for fuel not for pleasure )unless it was a cheat meal) and I recognized that it took me 20 years to gain all of my weight so I told myself if it took me 2 years to lose it, I was okay with that. Having a solid mental foundation is an important part of weight loss success. The sign above my door says, “No Effort No Gain” and that sign has motivated me many times when I wasn’t in the mood to work out.
Me: How long did it take before you started seeing results?
Dave: I started seeing results right away! I was huge and my body was very use to about 4000 calories a day to maintain my weight so when I suddenly dropped my caloric intake to 1800 calories, my body had little choice but to burn body fat as fuel which equals weight loss. I lost 23 pounds the first month and 18 the second, and 16 the third before things started to slow and ultimately I averaged 2 pounds a week for 20 months. I never plateaued thanks to learning that a cheat meal shakes up the metabolism and keeps it guessing and running, and also kept me sane. Eliminating every food you’ve ever loved cold turkey is in my opinion setting yourself up for failure. Sure a lot of discipline is required to lose weight and to keep it off but you do need to enjoy a couple of cheat meals each week so you don’t plateau and so you don’t become depressed and want to quit. Over time I was able to take or leave those cheat meals, it just takes time.
Me: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others losing weight?
Dave: For me, recognizing how much I hated being obese was the key. I wanted to lose my weight more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life. That hatred is what drove me and fueled my determination. Having a solid plan in place is very important. I highly recommend cooking all your foods for the week so you have no excuse for not eating clean. That plan should include time set aside for cardio and weights. When I say cardio, I mean 20 minutes of walking to start and weight lifting or using exercise bands for 15 minutes working one muscle group per day. You can consult with any personal trainer and many will be happy to give you a program to get started. You can also go on line and find lots of weight training programs from beginner to advanced. The most important key to successful weight loss is you have got to want to lose your weight more that you want to enjoy food. More than you want anything else in your life. If you are there your chance of long term success is very high. People fail because they look at their weight loss as a diet, not a life change and in my opinion, that’s a big mistake. Being fit is a lifestyle and trust me, there is no better feeling than being thin and fit and I’ve never been happier in my life than I am today. Anyone can lose weight, you just gotta want it!
Dave’s story is one of those classic stories of a person whose determination was the one thing that changed his life. Through all the eating well and exercising, his determination pulled him through and made this possible! He has done what many people only dream of.
One reason I wanted to talk about Dave is because he didn’t use Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or any of those other “pay $100 to lose weight” he just decided one day that he wanted (and needed) to lose weight, and he did.
Dave has mentioned numerous times in his videos, in posts, and on his profile page on Calorie Count that “Nothing tastes as good as fit feels.” I’ve come to associate this saying with Dave. Anyone who has lost 195 would definitely know how true that statement is!
Talking to Dave has been great. It’s amazing to be able to personally talk to someone (well, though email at least) who has lost the weight. It isn’t like those infomercials where all these people talk about how much weight they lose; they are just people on TV. Actually talk to Dave, and reading what he went through to reach his goals has been incredible!
I wanted to take a second and give a BIG thank you to Dave. In addition to allowing me to do this page about him, he has inspired me to lose weight. Numerous times! And I certainly hope that he can inspire you all to do the same!
He is also in the process of writing a novel documenting his journey. Keep an eye out for it, I know I am!