103: Nearly Dying, Channeling Anger, and Practicing Gratitude | Mario Colao

Mario was a depressed chain-smoker at such a low point in life that he thought, “I deserve this” in the middle of a heart attack.

Hear what changed when we awoke, how he channeled his anger, and how he’s dropped over 200 pounds. (91kg)

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors

Mario is a 6’3″ self-confessed comic book geek, age 32 at the time of this interview. He was a “chubby” kid growing up, and describes the beginning as the period after his grandfather died. Mario was 9 years old.

“I really didn’t have any friends as a kid.. when [my grandfather] died… I turned to food as a comfort.”

Mario recalls high school being the toughest time of his life.

“I was the quintessential fat-guy, friend-zone guy. I was the guy that all of the girls wanted to hang out with, but none wanted to be my girlfriend.”

After high school, Mario’s depression and other issues contributed to poor lifestyle choices that impacted his health and weight.

He recalls drinking most days of the week, chain-smoking, and eating terrible meals with no regards for his health. Mario knows now that he was using food to deal with his depression.

Though he tried various method of losing weight – “I must have tried everything other than like the patch and the gum. I mean I tried, I never did any specialized diets.” – he admits that he never fully committed to changing. He still maintained some of his unhealthy habits.

“What I did do was I tried all these different ways to try to hold on the lifestyle in any way I could.”

Mario reached a peak weight of 460 pounds. (209.1 kg)

The Turning Point

“The best day of my life was the worst experience of my life at the same time.”

Mario woke up one morning with heart-attack symptoms. His heart was racing, his arm was numb, and he was sure his time had come.

Mario’s depression and self-esteem was evident in his reaction to the crisis:

“I didn’t call an ambulance. I felt like I deserved it… I was kind of like, ‘I’m going to get what I had coming. I deserve this, because I did this to myself.’ “

When Mario woke the next morning, he was relieved that he was still alive. Then, he became angry. Angry at himself for getting to that point.

“I needed that moment to wake up that thing inside of me.”

“I felt like a failure. I felt like, up to that point, I had not even come close to my potential. I felt I was not happy in my life or with myself. I really didn’t like myself.  All the stuff I was doing was a way to deal with that feeling.”

He took some time to reflect on what he had been doing with his life and health, and he decided the time had come to make choices and take action.

Mario immediately quit smoking, started exercising, and began making different choices with his eating habits.

Starting The Weight Loss Journey

The first major step Mario took was to be brutally honest with himself. He shares that he quickly realized he had been lying to himself. There was no way he would ever be able to change his health if he insisted on smoking and eating the way he was.

“I stopped eating fried foods. Stopped eating sweets. Stopped drinking pop. Basically everything that you know you’re not supposed to do, I stopped doing it. I quit smoking cold turkey.”

Mario’s size had limited his physical activity, so he began with walking on a treadmill every day. Around this same period, he had “a weird twist of luck” by being laid off from his construction job. Being away from the environment of his old job meant he was removed from constant smoking.

“I was lucky to have been laid off at that time. Not being at work was actually a blessing.”

Mario shared his decision to change with his parents, his then-girlfriend, and close friends. He then exiled himself to his room for a few weeks. He didn’t go out to bars or out with his friends those first few weeks until he felt that he “had some kind of control over it.”

“I gave up all that stuff that was my comfort… It was not easy at first.”

Mario worked to create a routine that he could maintain over time and on his own. He quickly noticed his energy level increasing.

“I felt way more alive than I had probably ever felt.”

Some specific changes Mario made:

  • Eliminated red meat from his diet
  • Ate smaller portions
  • Spaced out his meals evenly
  • Kept healthy snacks around
  • Drank much more water
  • Ate more fruits and vegetables, and less bread.

Mario also discovered that he loved turkey burgers:

“Whoever invented turkey burgers, I wish I could hug that guy.”

Staying Motivated

Mario is honest about the ongoing difficulty of the mental side of weight-loss:

“Every day at some point in the day, my mind will be like, ‘Lets go get a Whopper.’ I think that’s been the biggest hurdle is just dealing, battling myself on a daily basis.”

He also shares that a breakup derailed him for a little bit, and he wasn’t as strict during that period, and also became irregular with his exercise.

After some reflection, Mario realized he was just causing himself more problems and throwing away his progress by allowing himself to backslide. He scolded himself and got back on track.

“Anger is a big thing for me. I get a lot of power from anger. Bad times are usually the fuel for good times.”

“Every success story you’ve ever heard is always about somebody going through something bad and turning it into something good.”

Mario practices keeping himself positive as well. He shares that part of his routine now, while driving to the gym daily, is reflecting on a list of things he is grateful for.

What Mario Learned About Food, Exercise, and Himself

Mario shares that a major discovery for him was the energy balance of “calories in, calories out.” It was a major eye-opener for Mario to learn how much physical activity it takes to burn off what he eats.

“I was under the impression that, at long as you exercised, you could eat whatever you want, and that is so far off base… When you actually work out and see how hard you are working to just burn off 300 calories, it really hit homes how important the food is to all this.”

He also discovered that he was a strong person and had potential for so much, both health-wise, and in life.

Mario shares that he feels happy with his life now, and realized how important a support system is.

“Anything is possible. You  just have to want it bad enough.” (Tweet this)

Mario’s Advice For Your Journey

Mario emphasizes how important it is to be truly honest with yourself about your habits and the choices you make.

“Stop lying to yourself. Know yourself. Figure out exactly what you know will work for you and run with it.” (Tweet this)

  • Find some kind of motivation that is bigger than just yourself.
    “I find that when I give myself things to be motivated by, my drive is much stronger.”
  • Really know who you are and work with yourself, not against yourself.
  • Try new ways of dealing with stress.
  • Hang in there!

“It’s not about being strong on the first day. It’s about being strong on your worst day.”

Resources Discussed In This Podcast

On Mario’s Workout Playlist

Contacting Mario

Catch up with Mario in the comments below and at his social profiles in the following places:

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