For Tory Johnson, it wasn’t pills, diets or surgeries that helped her lose — and keep off — the weight she had battled all her life. It was a conversation.
Johnson, a Good Morning America contributor, had been working there for five years and had received nothing but praise for her work. She was happy and thought she was on top of the world.
One day, Barbara Fedida, one of her bosses, pulled her into her office and told her something that she had never heard before.
“She said she didn’t think my clothes looked my best and that she wanted to send me to a stylist,” Johnson said while speaking last week at a Mother’s Day luncheon for the National Council of Jewish Women at the La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach.
Johnson, who lost more than 60 pounds and wrote about it in her new book, The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered A Happier Life, dedicated to Fedida, said she interpreted the words to mean “lose weight or lose your job” — even though that is not what Fedida meant.
“It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me, because had I focused on my clothes like she was offering, it would’ve been another gimmick,” said Johnson, who was born and raised in Miami Beach and is a graduate of Miami Beach High.
“When you have been fat forever and you desperately don’t want to be, you’re always looking for a way out, for the quick fix that is going to help you break free,” she said. “There are no gimmicks, it’s hard work.”
So, Johnson, 42, started her weight loss journey with little steps such as eating less, moving more and counting carbs.
About six months in, after having lost a visible amount of weight, she was approached about writing a book recounting her experience. “I started doing some soul searching,” she said.
She discovered that the motivation she needed to succeed was rooted in events of her past. She went back 20 years and remembered that she got married wearing navy, not white, because she didn’t want to look like a “marshmallow.” She had avoided visiting the doctor for 10 years because she didn’t want a lecture about her weight.
“Anytime you want to make a big change, really understand why this is going to be the time that’s different from all the other attempts in the past,” she said, explaining how she finally came to terms with the weight problem she had been avoiding all her life.
Second on her list was acknowledging what she was willing to give up, and the excuses had to go.
“I travel a lot, so I would say, ‘What happens on the road, stays on the road.’ And really, what happens on the road, stays on your ass,” she said.
She realized she had no moderation, so “cheat days” most diets encourage weren’t going to work for her.
Finally, she rewarded her accomplishments every day, but not with cookies or snacks. She celebrated by wearing smaller sizes and, surprisingly, by doing something that most people dread: going to the doctor.
“The biggest moment for me was finally going to the doctor, finally getting a mammogram. I was so excited to be there, in that moment that I had long put off.”
Johnson’s “shift’’ was of 62 pounds lost, or as her kids say, two of their dogs. Three years later, she has not gained the weight back.
She encourages others to try her method in The Shift, and says that it is applicable to not just weight, but relationships, career and financial decisions.
“I feel like what I did was a shift in my thinking, not so much a diet,” she said. “Change is possible, you can go from a dark place to a great place, you can go from happy to happier, you can make really good things happen for yourself.”