What a difference a year makes. Since December 2012, Debbie Ross has lost 135 pounds with the help of weight-loss coach Charles D’Angelo.
Ross’ wake-up call came in late 2012, when she was too winded to make her bed. On Thanksgiving that year, she caught D’Angelo giving weight-loss tips on the noon news. He said: It’s not the food that makes you fat; it’s your attitude about it. With the big holiday meal set for that day, the advice struck a chord with Ross. She resolved to make a change, starting by writing a letter to D’Angelo. “I told him how I was tired of always being the biggest person in the crowd,” Ross recalls. “I could never shop at normal clothing stores. I always felt like a skinny woman trapped in heavy person’s body. I needed somebody to tell me what to do.”
D’Angelo became that person. During their first meeting, he helped Ross realize the reason behind her weight issue: After her husband's early death, she began comforting herself with food. “When I left Charles’ office that day, I cried.” She says she was ready to take her life in a new direction.
To begin her weight-loss journey, Ross followed every last detail of D’Angelo’s food and exercise plan. He helped her embrace a new philosophy about food, exercise—and herself. “I eat every three hours—an alarm on my phone goes off when it’s time to eat," she says. "It’s very easy because you don’t have to make any decisions.” And Ross says she hasn’t cheated once—nor has she ever been hungry on the meal plan. She also walks 10 miles every day and participates in fitness classes, including aerobics, dance, martial arts and yoga.
Today, Ross is 145 pounds—a shade of her former 280-pound self. D’Angelo can relate. A 360-pound teenager more than a decade ago, he knows how clients feel. But he also knows how they can get the weight off, and keep it off, as he has done. The key to weight-loss is mindset, he says. “You can have every diet plan and all the exercise equipment in the world, but if you don’t have the right mindset, you will not succeed. Debbie learned how to battle her demons instead of numbing herself with food.” D’Angelo says when you disconnect eating from emotion, meals become strategic rather than spontaneous.
For those who have weight loss on their list of New Year’s resolutions, D’Angelo advises starting with three steps: Identify where you are and realize where you can be, find a role model or coach who has been there, and abandon any excuses impeding your goal. “If you are willing to change your choices, you can change your destiny.”
Ross certainly has changed her future. About a year away from retirement, she is looking forward to enjoying everything she was unable to do before her new-found health. “I’m a brand new person. Now I can do whatever I want when I retire.”