Ruth DeSantis is the kind of loser you don’t run into very often.
She’s the kind of loser who has found success in her losing ways.
The reason for that is because her losing ways include dropping nearly 50 pounds in the last 10 months and reducing her overall body fat by more than 10 percent.
Her “losing” ways, in fact, have given her a new, healthier lifestyle that was achieved not with a pill or with elective surgery, but rather with hard work and changed habits.
“I have a ton more energy,” she said in an interview Monday evening. “I think I’m happier. I’m definitely calmer and that’s big because I’m a hot-tempered Italian. I’ve had one cold since last year and I was the kid who had bronchitis and pneumonia every three months. My allergies don’t bother me and my blood pressure is completely normal.
“I guess I’ve never liked pills and I think if people choose to have surgeries that make them lose weight it’s almost like taking the easy way out,” she continued. “It doesn’t work because they go into it with the wrong mindset. This is my life now. It has really happened. It’s not going to change. It’s built into me now.”
What’s built into DeSantis now is better eating habits, a desire to take care of herself and a workout ethic that has become effortless. While others have lost far more weight by the numbers, often those losses don’t include the maintenance portion of the bargain – the part that ensures the weight stays off.
“Crash dieting doesn’t really work,” said Dave Memont, who DeSantis hired as her trainer and nutritionist last May. “The body and mind get such a shock. It might work for a week, or maybe two, but it never stays for the long term…It has to be a lifestyle change.”
Always Struggled with Weight
DeSantis grew up in Revere and graduated from Revere High in 1985. For 20 years now, she has worked successfully in the insurance industry in Boston, commuting from Beachmont while living with and taking care of her elderly mother.
After high school, she said she always struggled with her weight.
She said that at one point she injured herself and stopped exercising. That caused her to gain five pounds. Those five pounds became 10 and soon 50 and so on.
Add that to a family trait of women being overweight, and DeSantis quickly progressed to over 200 pounds on her small frame.
“After high school I guess I always struggled with my weight,” she said. “About a year after my father died, around 2001, I was at my highest weight, over 200 pounds. For years I didn’t do anything about it. Then, in 2005, my doctor wanted to put me on blood pressure medicine and that shocked me…Then, last year my mom fainted, and I was there to catch her, but I wasn’t strong enough to hold on to her. I felt it was ridiculous.”
From that point, she decided to really conquer her weight problem, and hired Memont, a unique personal trainer who works with clients online (and who once worked out of Revere’s East Shore Athletic Club).
“It was like a switch turned on one day,” she said. “I just had to do it. I had to get better because it’s a sickness. A lot of people don’t choose to be obese. It’s a sickness you have to cure yourself of.”
After several failed attempts at diets and workout plans over the years, DeSantis said Memont and his company, MyStrengthDiscovery.com, finally righted her.
She found out that she had a shocking 43 percent body fat percentage. A healthy range for her was around 23. And, she was nearly a size 17.
Memont put her on a weightlifting program to build strength and a strict diet that included eating sensibly seven times a day.
Meanwhile, DeSantis had to wean herself off of bad foods, to stop eating when she was bored and when big family gatherings occurred – the kind with numerous delicious Italian dishes – she had to plan ahead and bring some of her own food.
Now, less than a year later, DeSantis said she has learned a new way of living that doesn’t include an easy fix or a magic pill. She now weighs around 140 and her body fat percentage is down in the low 30s. Her size is also in the single digits for the first time, as she sports a size 8.
“Ruth is like a sponge and absorbs everything,” said Memont. “After her first session she wanted to quit, but I wouldn’t let her. I think she was relieved about that. She’s one of those people who comes in the door and does everything that you want them to do.”
Nowadays, with a much leaner profile, DeSantis said she is often unrecognizable to friends who haven’t seen her in a while.
She said she gets a lot of funny looks and puzzled glances from those who don’t immediately put two and two together.
“People I haven’t seen in a long time are shocked,” she said. “I saw a friend in November in California and they couldn’t believe it was me. I had lunch with a former co-worker the other day. He hadn’t seen me in more than a year and he was floored.”
On the practical side, her clothes no longer fit her, and she has resisted going out and buying a whole new wardrobe just yet.
“I’ve been pinning up and adjusting my old clothes so much,” she said. “The other day my pants were pinned up so much my friend said it looked like I had a microphone pack on my back. He said I looked ridiculous and it was time to buy new clothes.”
Her family and friends are also very proud of her, and now her weight loss journey could turn into a new career. Already, she said she has several people lined up who want her to coach them through their own weight troubles. In fact, so many have approached her that she is now studying to become a certified trainer and plans to take on clients as soon as she’s finished.
She said that decision, as well as her decision to make her journey public knowledge, has been motivated by a desire to help others break the “sickness” of being overweight.
“You see people my age limping and walking with canes,” she said. “They’re skin is not good. They look grey. Their body language – it’s almost a defeated body language. And I know all this because I’ve been there…I’m hoping I can inspire people to live a life and not let life happen to them. If I can be motivated and disciplined, anybody can.”
In this case, DeSantis’s losing ways have made her a real winner.