Fred Bollaci enjoyed living a life where he could eat out at the best restaurants worldwide, but he was constantly struggling with his weight. Because of this, he became determined to find a way to lose weight and still eat out. Since then, Fred has lost 150 pounds and has kept it off without giving up the food he loved!
Because of his commitment to wellness and a healthy lifestyle, he wrote a book entitled THE RESTAURANT DIET: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight that gives dieting tips for dining out so that you can order fine meals without the guilt. Bollaci shares his own personal story of losing 150 pounds (from 330), how he has kept the weight off for seven years, is the fittest he has ever been, and never gave up eating gourmet food.
Salonpas sat down with “Wellness Warrior” Fred Bollaci to learn more about how he has been so successful with his health and fitness campaign and to learn more about his book:
What was your catalyst to regain your health?
Back in 2009, after trying to diet and lose weight many times without lasting success, I was literally “fed up” with diets that advocated deprivation and seemed more like punishment than a realistic long-term approach I could live with. After nearly dying from sleep apnea and spending years suffering in a 300+ pound body in which even basic tasks were difficult and painful, I was determined to give it my all and finally find a way to lose the weight that wouldn’t seem like a typical “deprivation diet.” I decided I was going to learn to enjoy eating again, in my favorite restaurants as someone who enjoyed eating out, and at home, as a gourmand who enjoyed cooking and entertaining but needed to make better choices and learn to embrace quality over quantity (moderation), make exercise an integral part of life, and deal with the emotional reasons why I had been overeating for so long.
How long were you overweight in your life?
I struggled with weight issues and overeating since middle school. I was over 200 pounds in 8th grade, the fattest kid in my class and was teased mercilessly. Faced with the chance to start over, I decided to stop at nothing back then and lose weight to take advantage of our family’s pending move to Florida from New York, thinking that “Fat Fred” as I was called, would be history. I lost a lot of weight and looked good. I hated every minute of starving myself, didn’t like to exercise, and learned nothing in the process except that a new city and state and suddenly slender body did little to change how I felt inside—insecure and unlovable, and hence, I eventually went back to overeating and gained the weight back and a lot more.
I reached the 300-pound mark shortly after graduating from law school in 2003. My lifestyle was unhealthy and exercise was not a priority. I stayed at over 300 pounds for nearly 6 years. Being morbidly obese took an emotional toll—I was frequently ridiculed in my personal and professional lives. I couldn’t shop where regular people shopped. Nobody wanted to date me. Life seemed more like torture. Every diet seemed to reinforce the notion that I was an undisciplined failure who couldn’t be trusted around food. I would struggle to lose a few pounds, hate every minute, and end up right back where I started, feeling worse.
Why did you decide to write the Restaurant Diet?
I wrote my book as a lifeline and alternative to the millions of folks who, like me struggle with food and their weight and are looking for a realistic approach that empowers, rather than blames them. For years, I was looking for the secret, or a short cut to permanent weight loss.
What I learned is there is no short cut, and the secret is a diet plan needs to be realistic and born out of self-love in order to stand a chance. I started by learning to accept myself and my situation as an unhappy overweight person who had major problems with food for years and needed to find a better way of allowing myself to actually enjoy the process of losing weight and getting healthier, rather than set myself up to failure by telling myself I had to do a, y, or z, by a certain date in order to lose x number of pounds, because I was fat, undisciplined, and couldn’t do it any other way.
Doing it out of kindness and self-love and without working against myself totally changed the game. Instead of telling myself I couldn’t go out to eat or enjoy food, I learned to eat out and make better choices, both in restaurants and at home. I learned to make chefs and restaurant owners and staff partners in my success by sharing my story and desire to eat better and continue to patronize their restaurant and enjoy eating, without the excess. This was the foundation of “The Restaurant Diet.” After losing 150 pounds in 12 months, people wanted to know how I did it and many encouraged me to write a book to share my unique story and approach.
I began my manuscript back in 2012 and started obtaining recipes from many great restaurants I enjoyed while losing weight and after. Having kept the weight off for 7 years and made many wonderful contacts in the restaurant business, “The Restaurant Diet” found a home and is the most comprehensive collection of healthy-gourmet recipes from excellent establishments from coast-to-coast ever assembled and offers readers a hopeful, exciting, and surprisingly delicious alternative to conventional dieting. It is, in essence, a letter I would love to be able to go back 15 years and hand my former overweight self who was in a state of despair having tried countless diets, wasted tons of money, and struggled with weight for years. Other folks can now benefit from my experience. That is the greatest gift of all—to be able to share my story. Other folks’ success is my success.
Tell us your top ten tips from the Restaurant Diet book?
- Make your quest to lose weight an exercise in self-love.
- Deal with the emotional reasons why you overeat in the first place.
- Pre-planning is essential to going out to eat and being successful.
- Don’t eat when you are hungry and don’t eat until you are stuffed–find a balanced approach and learn to listen to your body’s cues and only give yourself what you need to be healthy.
- Make exercise an integral part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, not something you do in order to “lose weight by a certain date.”
- Make your life a quest for the best in everything you put in your mouth, quality over quantity.
- To find success in a restaurant, be that overweight person or dieter the staff wants to help! Be polite and engaging, share your story, and enlist their help (in not bringing you the bread and butter and not telling you about the fattening dessert special, etc.)
- Dieting and weight loss is not about what you can’t do, where you can’t eat, or what you can’t have. If you enjoy wine, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner! For weight loss to be successful, you’ll want to adopt a lifestyle that you can live with forever.
- Weight loss should be gradual, rather than a harsh, goal-oriented means to an end, like “I’ve got to lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day or to fit into my wedding dress, etc.
- Losing weight should be part of an overall quest to get healthier—mind, body, and spirit. Start taking better of ourselves, treat ourselves with kindness and respect. It is a lot easier to teach yourself to live and eat better if you are doing so in a kind, compassionate way, as opposed to reminding yourself that you are sweating and out-of-breath on a treadmill because you are overweight, undisciplined, hate how you look and feel, and that you’re in this predicament, and you’re only doing it for as long as it takes to shed the unwanted pounds.
How important is exercise for you in getting in shape and staying there? What exercise do you do and how much?
Exercise is an important part of a comprehensive overall weight loss and maintenance strategy and healthy, balanced lifestyle. Three components are critical to weight loss and keeping it off, as mentioned in my book. I need to be well “FED” in all areas of my life, especially: 1. Food (eat a balance of foods I enjoy that are good for me), 2. Exercise (I need to exercise daily in order to keep my body in the best shape reasonably possible) without overdoing it, and 3. Deal (with the Emotions)—it is vital to address underlying emotional issues related to overeating and deal with the inevitable grief and struggles that will ensue anytime we dramatically attempt to change our relationship with food from one of gluttony and excess to eating considerably less.
Do you believe in drinking a lot of water?
I advocate drinking a good amount of water each day—whether regular water with lemon, or mineral water, which has been shown to aid in digestion. Especially if you are exercising and perspiring, water is essential. We need water to support life and well-being and to flush toxins from our system. I typically drink about 8 glasses a day. I bring a bottle of water to bed with me every night. I always ask for water at a restaurant and try to start drinking water as soon as I sit down and sip in-between bites and courses. This helps us “feel fuller” and eat less.
Tell us what your nutritionist, doctor and psychologist say in terms of why your weight loss and mental health journey to wellness was so effective?
My nutritionist credits my positive attitude, gradual, realistic long-term approach which included dining out in my favorite restaurants and learning to deal with the inevitable emotional issues, my doctor credits my learning to make weight loss an “inside job,” transforming my life from the inside out, rather than losing weight and looking different on the outside and still feeling the same inside, and my therapist credits my working with a professional to help reestablish food as a positive life force, something we need to live rather than something we overdo in order to compensate for a deficiency elsewhere.