Thursday, February 2, 2012

The fat kid no more

When I began How We Did It , I interviewed a New Jersey state senator, Bill Baroni, who lost 132 pounds at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina. Bill was 22 years old and weighed 320 pounds. He was working as a political aide for a candidate who was running for Congress. If the candidate won, they'd head for DC. But if he lost, Bill vowed he would go to Duke.

Well, the candidate lost, but it was Bill who won in the end. In less than a year, he trimmed down to 185 pounds and he's kept the weight off for 15 years now.

Before my book had a chance to go to press, I had to replace Bill because it turns out he started writing his own book. And here it is!
Fat Kid Got Fit: And So Can You. Our books were reviewed in the same issue of Library Journal. It's great to be in such good company!

Something Bill said to me about the perception people have of those who are overweight has always stuck with me. When he was almost 320 pounds, Bill said people would clap him on the back and say what a good "back office" kind of guy he was, a great campaign worker. But after he lost his weight, people changed their tune. "You should run for office," everyone told Bill. They perceived him as a different person when he weighed 185 pounds. Bill did run for office and succeeded. It's ironic that the "fat kid" chose the highly visible profession of politics. Today, Bill is the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

People in How We Did It told me the same thing. One woman recalled how when she weighed over 350 pounds, she was loading groceries into the back of her car in a parking lot one day. A carload of kids drove past and jeered at "the fat lady." After she lost 165 pounds and was doing the same thing in the parking lot of Costco, a young man stopped his car, got out and asked if he could help her. Same person, different perception. I'm sure if you're trying to lose weight, you have a similar story to tell.

Check out Bill's book if you have the chance. The way he lost weight is a simple, straightforward way that anyone can achieve -- he knocked off the fast food, stopped drinking soda and started going to the gym.
Congratulations on your weight loss, your career and on your book, Bill!

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