When the calendar turned to 2012 last January, City Councillor John Correggio vowed to lose some weight.
His doctor had challenged him to lose weight, and he knew he had to do something. Like many do at the first of every year, Correggio set out on a path to knock off a few pounds in the New Year. He didn’t know if he’d be successful, but he resolved to give it his best effort.
The result: In 2013 he has found himself 60 pounds lighter and everyone is taking notice.
“I feel fantastic,” he said. “I’m 65 years old and I feel like I’m in my 30s or 40s. What happened is I got very depressed with my mother passing in 2005 and completely let myself go. I was up to 263 pounds and the depression took a toll on me. Now, I’ve changed and I’m at around 203 pounds.
“My doctor said, ‘John, if you keep going like this, you’ll end up with diabetes, a stroke or any other such thing,’” he continued. “He told me that it was the belly that is the worst thing. If you have a belly, he told me, it’s very dangerous.”
With his doctor’s blessing, Correggio cut out candy, sweets and changed his eating habits. He took off about 15 pounds in the early part of the year just by eating more vegetables and fruits, he said.
However, it was a stringent routine of walking, jogging and running that really changed Correggio’s life. Sticking to it was the hardest part, but he said that, last May, he decided to treat it like it was his job.
“I really began to look at it like a job,” he said. “I’m retired now, so Monday to Friday are like work days for me with my running. I run about seven to 12 miles, five days a week – all over Revere. People see me going by and they give the thumbs up. I really got hooked when one day I just kept going further and further away. I just walked out of my house and kept going and going until I was in the North End. I took a break and had something to eat and then jogged back to Revere. That really did it for me.”
Correggio said he lost the weight without going to the gym and without taking any medications. That, he said, is his style and may not be for everyone. The bottom line, he said, is that everyone has to make a personal decision to eat healthier and exercise regularly.
“It’s all up to you – each person individually,” he said. “You have to do it. No one else can do it for you. In 2011, I looked at some old pictures and saw that I looked so good and in shape when I was younger. I felt awful when I saw that. I vowed that I had to get back to what I was like in my 30s and 40s. I’m there now, but I’m not done yet.”
Nevertheless, it might not be every individual who has the ability to make such a change on his or her own like Correggio.
Some, it seems, are actually addicted to food, and Brooke S. (whose name has been changed per the rules of her organization) said she turned to Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FAs) to put her on the right track.
FAs hold meetings all over the area, and will be holding a free community information meeting at the Whidden Hospital in Everett on Jan. 12th at 10 a.m.
Some 13 years ago, Brooke S. made a New Year’s resolution to finally reach her goal of being slim – something she said she had strived for all her life. With the help of FAs, she went from 220 pounds and a size 22 to 130 pounds and a size 6. Now, she continues attending meetings locally and mentoring others, as well as keeping on her routine.
“It’s not for everybody, but if you’re really suffering and you’ve tried everything, it’s a great program,” she said. “I had tried everything, some 15 to 20 diets, always wanting to be thin. That was my biggest worry. I thought I might not get married or get the job I wanted. I wasn’t comfortable in my clothes and sometimes they would rip and it was so embarrassing. This was the last stop for me and it worked…I learned that the eating is a symptom of the problem of addiction. We just happen to choose food and not drugs, alcohol or gambling. The root is the same.”
Brooke S. said she didn’t realize that someone could be addicted to food, but began to find out that some people can be addicted to flour and sugar. They think about it all the time, she said, and when they eat it, it’s like an alcoholic drinking alcohol.
She said the FAs are very similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in that they follow a similar 12-step program. However, unlike drugs or alcohol, food addiction can be more difficult.
“You can put the drugs down or the alcohol down, but with food, you still have to eat,” she said. “So, you have to learn how to make a specific food plan and stick to it.
She said everyone is welcome to attend the Jan. 12th meeting at the Whidden, but there are also meetings in Chelsea at the Soldiers Home every Monday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. There are also weekly meetings on the Revere-Chelsea line at the Beth Israel Clinic every Friday at 10 a.m.
For more information on FAs, check out their website at www.foodaddicts.org.