This archived article was written by: Jessa Love Adams
A lot of students on campus know Justin Sacco, he’s one of the local guys who performs with improv team in the little theatre on Thursdays at 6 p.m. You may have seen him at the gym … a lot. More than a year ago the gym is the last place you would find him.
When Sacco turned 19 he looked at himself in the mirror and wasn’t happy with the image he saw … a guy who tipped the scales at 350 pounds. Nine months later, he weighs 188 pounds.
He felt he was at a somewhat normal weight in the third grade when he hit the scales at 110 pounds. By the time he was a high school sophomore, he was active in sports and weighed 250 pounds. By the time he was a senior he weighed 293 pounds.
During his high school years he would start his morning with an energy drink. At lunch he ate four double-stack cheese burgers at Wendys, fries and a shake. After school he ate a daily snack of hot pockets, pizza and maybe a couple of sandwiches. Then for dinner, he would eat whatever his mom cooked and have three or four helpings. He thinks he consumed more than 30,000 calories each day, maybe more.
By the time he enrolled in his freshman year at the College of Eastern Utah he was more than 300 pounds and gaining.
Thinking he had hypothyroidism, he visited Dr. Shane Gagon who ran a battery of tests on Sacco. Gagon told him his liver functions were 49 (normal was between 43-45). His liver was shutting down due to Sacco’s weight.
Sacco spent a month deciding that he would take the initiative to lose weight through exercise and diet. He did not set himself a time frame, just drop to a healthy weight. After nine months he surpassed his goal weight and continues to drop pounds.
How did he do it in only nine months? First he made himself a goal weight. His goal was to weigh 220 pounds. Then, he put himself on a strict diet. It’s all about what you put in your mouth right? Sacco eats incredibly healthy and won’t eat more than 1,000 calories a day.
On a typical day he starts by drinking 20 ounces of water to clear his digestive tract. Then he eats a banana or apple and heads to classes or the gym, depending on what day of the week it is. By lunch he eats another banana and in late afternoon, he eats a meal consisting of a Subway sandwich, fish, chicken or salad. By dinner at 8 p.m., he eats normal dinner in small portions.
He makes sure he has fruits, vegetables, meats and grains each day. He smiles when he said he misses eating sugar the most. “I love sugar.”
The gym became one of Sacco’s best friends. He made himself a workout plan that has him spending three times a week in the gym: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for three hours. He said, “on Mondays I work my upper body. On Wednesdays I run two miles plus a light workout of my upper body, and on Fridays I again work out my upper body.”
Most importantly, Sacco believed in himself. Something people struggle with when trying to lose weight. His advice to lose who are trying to lost weight is “Keep telling yourself you can, don’t listen to anyone else; your opinion is all that matters.”
During Thanksgiving Day, he planned to enjoy the food but not have a piece of pie. He ended up having three pieces of pie but was at the gym the next day. He said he actually lost four pounds and is not sure how he lost the weight.
When he started his exercise and eating plan, he wore a triple XXX shirt and 46 size pant. Now he’s down to size medium shirt and 32 pant. He loves buying new clothes. “I have given away a lot of really nice clothes that no longer fit,” he smiled. “Many of his clothes he only wore once.” He figures he has spent over $2,000 in new clothes.
Sacco is a pre-medical major at CEU and juggles school, workouts and work. He loves his classes, however his favorite part of attending the college is the interaction between the faculty and students. “Everyone is so cool.” After he graduates with his associate’s degree, he plans to head to the University of Utah.
Sacco is incredible and a role model for anyone losing weight. He says if he can do it, anyone can do it. “You gotta believe in yourself.”