Twitter Saved My Life
By Salvatore Stefanile
I’m not really much of a Twitter guy and rarely use it to ramble random life musings. I mainly use Twitter to follow Dan Harmon, Kurt Sutter, Norm Macdonald and pretty much every sports Twitter feed imaginable.
I never imagined I’d stick with Twitter for long. Figured I’d just sign up, check it out and delete my account eventually.
Was I ever wrong.
On April 15 of 2010, Twitter helped save my life.
One of the most prolific writers of today’s generation is Deadspin writer Drew Magary. I don’t know where he gets the time to write for all the publications he does, not to mention write a book, too. I give him credit for that. He was one of the first people I followed on Twitter.
He kept complaining how he needed to lose 50 pounds and instead of just bitching about it to faceless internet followers, he came up with a plan: announce to the world how much he weighed and keep people on Twitter informed of his progress.
He dubbed his plan the #twitterpublichumiliationdiet.
It was a ballsy thing to do. No one ever wants to answer the question, “How much do you weigh?” Especially if you’re overweight or, in my case, morbidly obese. It can be embarrassing to hear the actual number once you say it out loud. Ask yourself how much you weigh inside your head. If you hate the answer, you probably have no desire to tell it to somebody else… Especially the whole world through the internet.
Drew decided he needed to humiliate himself in public and use that shame to motivate him.
Unless you have someone by your side looking at the scale as you weigh yourself, no one can truly know how much you weigh. Which means you can always lie about the number. Raise your hand if you’ve ever lied about your weight before?
You couldn’t see me but I wrote that last sentence with my nose, because I had both my hands and feet up in the air.
Writing how much you weigh in a public forum like Twitter can’t be taken back. You have to live with that number forever.
Watching Drew post his weight each day and eventually reaching his goal, and then some, was both motivating and humorous. The dude’s pretty funny. And in the back of my head I just kept thinking to myself: If I’m ever to get serious about my own weight loss I have to go BIG, just like Drew did.
Those who have known me my whole life, or just the past few years of it, have known how out of shape and overweight I was, still am to a point, I guess. But I used to be super unhealthy at one time in my life. Actually, I don’t even remember a period in my life in which I wasn’t the biggest person in the room.
I tried to cope with it by making fun of myself. I thought if I was the first to make self-deprecating jokes about my weight, then I’d be in on the joke and not be the joke itself. That was the way it was since elementary school. It was a good plan, I thought. I’m a pretty positive guy, but my eating habits led to some dangerous health scares that all caught up to me after graduating film school.
In one shot, I got my own triple threat mantra. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and later down the line, high uric acid. All of a sudden, I was taking a ton of pills to manage my conditions. I felt like I was in the body of a 66-year-old man, not a 26-year-old dude. Yet I didn’t do anything to try and make myself better or get healthier. I just didn’t care enough.
I used to be the guy who would take the bus to school even though I lived a few blocks away. I used to be the guy who couldn’t walk up more than two flights of stairs without being winded. I used to be the guy that would eat at Denny’s twice a day. I used to be a lot of things…
Once you accustom yourself to a certain lifestyle, it’s hard to change. You get into a routine, and routines and bad eating habits can’t be broken unless you actually want to break them.
Going on a diet and exercising are life changes you have to commit to. There’s a reason why people go back to their old habits once they’ve been on a diet or gone to the gym for some time. The old ways are so much better… 2AM snacks, unlimited gorging on junk foods, days spent being a couch potato, etc. Who can say no to that?
Well, I finally did. I did it for myself, but I also did it for those close to me who cared. The ones who told me they were scared for my health. It’s funny. When you’re fat your whole life, you just get used to it. It’s your life. Whatever. But when people you care about, people who are your best friends, people who are genuinely afraid and worried, tell you that you need to get healthy, you start to listen. Suddenly your life is affecting them in a way you didn’t imagine.
That’s when I took a look at my life, my health conditions, my “diet”, and my lack of exercise. I finally realized that if I didn’t do something when I was still young enough to do so, that I might never get around to it. Or, even worse, not get a chance because… well, not to get morbid on you, but because I’d be dead. I know that may sound a little soap opera-y melodramatic, but that was my belief. You’ll see why in a second.
So, on April 15, 2010, I went out and bought a digital scale and started the #twitterpublichumiliationdiet.
For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, this was my first tweet:
H/T to @drewmagary for starting this. Day 1. #twitterpublichumiliationdiet 377.2 God damn, I love bacon. Too much.
Believe me, that number was as jarring for me to type as it is for you reading it.
I was 26 years old.
I was all in at that point. This was going to be my one true attempt at getting my life in order. Each and every day was a struggle. There were good days. There were bad days. There were god-damn-f@#$ing awful days. I had to live through each and every one of them knowing that whatever my final journey would lead me to, that it would all be worth it in the end.
That journey eventually ended after 1 year. My hard work paid off and I reached all the weight loss goals I set out to achieve. Not only did I lose a lot of weight, but I gained my life back. A life where if I wanted to go out and play tennis I could, without having to give up after the first serve because I was out of breath. Twitter gave me my life back; a life I will never take for granted.
I stopped the #twitterpublichumiliationdiet on the first anniversary of when I started it. I don’t need to be doing it any longer. I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel comfortable with the person I am.
My #twitterpublichumiliationdiet was one of the greatest and toughest years I’ve ever gone through, but I came out pretty good I think. I changed my eating habits. I made the effort to eat healthier and eat less. I exercised a lot. I did what needed to be done.
These are my final #twitterpublichumiliationdiet stats:
-Weight: 240 = 137.2 weight loss
-BMI went from 57.3 to 36.5
-3 XXX’s taken off my XXXL shirts
-20 pant sizes smaller
-Good cholesterol, high uric acid and blood pressure levels
-Less bacon *due to me becoming a vegan*
-3 years without an alcoholic beverage on April 20th
-The ability to play a full tennis match
-The love of a good woman
-Completion of a 5K marathon
As you can see, quite a bit happened to me within the span of a year. I’m in good emotional, physical, personal, and professional states right now. While I have given up the #twitterpublichumiliation diet, I haven’t given up the fight to stay healthy. I’m still exercising, I’m still a vegan, I’m still losing weight, and I’m still in love. Once you decide to change the way you live your life, you do it your entire life.
If after one year I had decided to go back to all my unhealthy eating and living habits, I would have thrown away all that hard work I put in. No way would I be going back.
Every time I visit my doctor, he takes me off more medication. There might even come a day when I’m no longer considered a Type 2 diabetic. I can’t give up now if I want that.
I also need to take the time to give a shout-out and thank all of the kind and awesome people who supported me and witnessed the transformation as it happened.
For everyone else, I wrote this article so that I could potentially inspire you to make a lifestyle change of your own. If anyone knows how hard it is to lose those, “last five pounds”, it’s me. But you can do it. You just got to stay positive.
Salvatore Stefanile Bio:
Salvatore Stefanile is a fun-loving and carefree living dude who’s rededicated his life by living it to its fullest extent possible. When he’s not busy looking up vegan baked goods recipes to make for his girlfriend, he’s busy devouring every online NFL article he can get his hands on. Oh, yeah, and sometimes he does this whole writing thing, too… Gotta make a living somehow…
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