Name: Luciano Cifelli

Age: 23
Height: 5’8”
Hometown: Laval
Heaviest weight: 242 lbs
Current weight: 165 lbs
Total weight lost: 77 lbs

I am a 23-year-old business Masters student getting my MSc at HEC Montreal in International Business and my MBA at the John Molson School of Business. I have held leadership positions in retail management and now work in innovation and change management for an after-market automotive firm.

I started my weight loss journey in March of 2018. I initially weighed just over 240 lbs. It is just over one year later and I have lost over 75 lbs and currently weigh in at 165 lbs.

What Made Me Do It?
The truth is, I had been overweight for most of my life and was self-conscious about my obesity. I stopped playing football at the end of high school and that is when I really started to put on weight. I was not exercising and was not paying attention to what I was eating. Throughout my CEGEP and undergraduate years, I continued to put on weight, bit by bit.

I was developing a terrible relationship with food. I would eat three large meals per day: at lunchtime, suppertime and then late at night. I was consistently consuming well over 3,000 calories per day. Large size tops and size 36 pants were not fitting me anymore. In the summer of 2017, I was starting to purchase XL tops and size 38 pants. I knew I could not continue on this road.

At the beginning of 2018, after being accepted to my Master’s program at HEC Montreal, I decided to not only focus on my professional and academic life, but on my personal life, which I had largely neglected for so many years.

How Did I Do It?
So, in short, the first months were quite simple. I have always been a numbers guy. I had a “light bulb” moment after doing research for a few days and realized weight loss is a simple concept; calories burned must be greater than calories consumed. I bought a Fitbit to track my daily calories burned, a calorie counting app and a kitchen scale to measure all my food. In addition, I started doing some cardio for the first time in years, two to three times per week. In terms of diet, I was maintaining a deficit of 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day. The only foods I completely cut out were white bread and sugary beverages. From March to September, I had lost 55 pounds! I dropped from a size XL to a size medium and from a size 38-waist to a size 34.

I decided not to stop there. I started a low-carb diet, focusing more on my macronutrients than anything else, incorporated more strength training into my exercise and lost another 20 pounds. I spoke at length about what I was doing with my family and friends and was lucky enough to have their support and encouragement along the way.

How Has Life Changed Since Losing the Weight?
Besides the psychological aspects of having more self-confidence and being comfortable walking around in clothes that fit me properly; I also no longer feel bloated when I wake up.

I have a healthy relationship with food now; I eat food for fuel, not for fun. Moreover, I found the right balance between my meals. I no longer eat three giant meals. Instead I try to eat six times per day. Since I developed the skill of counting calories over the past year, I now know what one portion of anything looks like. Before, I was quite easily eating two or three times the size of one portion.

Additionally, even though I am at a weight I am comfortable with, it is not the end of my health and fitness journey. My next goal is to become leaner, decrease my body fat and continue to make smart food choices.

What Have I Learned from My Body Transformation?
Although exercising is important, what we put into our bodies is what mostly counts. You might have already heard, “Weight loss is 80 per cent dieting, 20 per cent exercise.” Well, it is true! Exercise is to complement your diet. I recommend finding a diet that works for your lifestyle, one that you can sustain long-term even after you’ve lost the weight. For example, as an Italian-Canadian, I knew that trying to cut out my favourite pastas, pizzas and desserts completely would simply not be possible. I still indulge occasionally, but it’s all about balance.

Think of weight loss as more than just a number. Over the past year, I have realized that life is about more than the number on the scale. It’s, above all else, about challenging yourself and fighting to become the person you want to be, not just in fitness and in health, but in all areas.