Growing up in the thick of diet culture, navigating her changing body as a child to adulthood, Tanya discovered the Livy Method, lost 55 pounds, and was forever changed. Tanya’s journey highlights the challenges of past diet mindsets, managing expectations and comments of others, dressing her body while working in the fashion industry, and passing down her new healthy habits to her daughter.
You’re down 55 pounds in two groups, and you also lost weight during the break. Let’s talk about that.
I think I was successful because, for 91 days, I was all in. Whatever Gina said, Tanya did. I didn't care about wine, I didn't care about chips, I didn't care about any indulgences. I only cared about putting in 91 days of focus. In my first program, I lost in little bits, and I had plateaus here and there. I was very successful, and I lost 28.8 pounds. Then during the summer, I personalized the plan, and I lost another eight pounds.
During your second program, you didn’t lose any weight until Week Six. What was that like for you?
My mom signed up with me, and she wasn’t losing anything. Every morning she would ask “Did you lose today?” and each day I said “Nope” and I would go on with my day. She would ask me “Why aren’t you mad?” and I was like “I don’t know!” I was feeling good! It was fall, and I had to buy new clothing because I didn’t have anything that was my size. I went to buy a new pair of jeans. By week six I hadn’t lost one pound, but I went down two jean sizes.
It was a big change! And I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t bought those new jeans.
I was dealing with a different body, eating different foods. I found that the heavier foods were creeping in which may have affected the way that my body was losing. It was also a stressful time for me, not a fun time of year. I was happy I signed up for my second program because it was the support that I needed to cross the finish line.
"IT'S NOT ABOUT THE WEIGHT. I DON'T EVEN CARE WHAT THE SCALE SAYS. I FEEL SO GOOD, AND I'M JUST HERE FOR THAT. FEELING GOOD, GETTING UP AND JUST DOING LIFE."
After six weeks of no movement on the scale, you end up losing 16 pounds, and then you lose another 5 pounds over Christmas break while enjoying every minute of the season. Tell us about that.
I enjoyed every minute of it. I felt good, and I looked good. My cousin got married the week after the program, and I wore the sexiest dress. I said This is my “I deserve this dress.” And I turned a lot of heads, and I enjoyed every second.
For me, it wasn't about the weight. Even now, here I am in the third program. It's not about the weight. I don't even care what the scale says. I feel so good, and I'm just here for that. Feeling good, getting up, and just doing life.
What was your favourite thing about the program?
Growing up in diet culture, I think everybody in my household was always on a diet. I probably did a number of terrible diets from high school until whenever. When I was a ballerina, I was too fat to be a ballerina, you know? When I was at Canada's Wonderland, my hips were too big for the ride to close.
I have a daughter, and I wanna protect her from that, and I think that the best way is to set a good example. I think that going on another diet and having people comment, ‘Oh, are you on another diet? Why aren't you eating?’ For me, that's a nightmare. I don't even like any diet words, I close my ears. I don't want them saying it to her. I just want her to see me driving and follow. She does watch me. “Mommy, are you having almonds? Mommy? Could we have carrots and hummus?” I'm a mom now, it’s not about me. It's about them. I wanna be the best for them.
"I THINK I WAS SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE, FOR 91 DAYS, I WAS ALL IN. WHATEVER GINA SAID, TANYA DID. I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT WINE, I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT CHIPS, I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT ANY INDULGENCES. I ONLY CARED ABOUT PUTTING IN 91 DAYS OF FOCUS."
What was the hardest thing about the program for you?
Honestly, I didn't find it so hard. I still struggle with making my lunch, the veg, the veg as a star. It's a silly thing, but that's what I struggle with. In my job, always adjusting my thoughts, and how I was doing things, and how I served people, but to be honest, this worked for me because I found that it served me in a way that fit into my life and it gave me a reason to feel good.
You know, the hardest part maybe is convincing people that they have to really want to do it to be successful because a lot of people come with excuses and it's hard for me to accept it because I'm like, you know, I can make a lot of excuses.
With such a busy work schedule how did you find the time to prioritize getting all of your meals and snacks in?
I figured out that two of my meals could be eaten in the car. So the fruit snack and the nuts snack. On my way to work and on my way home. When it’s time to eat my veg snack, in the middle of my afternoon, it’s very busy, I eat it standing up.
I just made sure to eat, even if I could only take those two bites, I took it! I did miss it once in a while. Sometimes, you know, your brain forgets and you're busy, but, I really just tried to even if it took three minutes, I never took a full sit-down break and sat and set up my lunch.
I just ate it and moved on and did what I had to do. That's what worked for me, and I just made it happen.
Let’s talk about the body positivity movement and working in fashion. How did your clients react and when did you know you needed to make a change?
For what it was, people were very supportive. I mean, I have amazing clients, and they're like, “Tanya, you inspire me to try on clothes! I didn't think I could shop with you. But I walked into Yaya the other day, and I tried things, and I found a dress, and I feel so confident!”
It was almost as if this support that I had was giving me confidence at any size. So I said, “Wow, people like me and I'm big, and they like me!”
Eventually, I tried on one too many dresses that wouldn't zip, and I then realized something was really wrong because I knew I wasn't feeling good.
But it was when I tried the dresses, and they were trying to squeeze me in, and I couldn't fit, and I burst into tears, and I said, “How am I going to show up for these people that rely on me? I don't know what to do because I can't do my job anymore.”
What am I supposed to do? I can't even lose weight. I was eating peanut butter, a spoon of peanut butter. That was all I was eating. I was at my wit's end until someone passed me a phone call and I'm so grateful because I got connected to your program, I didn't know what the heck I was doing, but I'm so glad I paid that 75 bucks. I went home to my husband, I said “Okay, I'm signing up for this thing.” and he said, “What is it and how much does it cost and why?” And I said, “I dunno what it is. I'm just doing it because after that, if it doesn't work, I give up and I'm done.”
It was my last ditch effort to try to fix myself. I'm very grateful that I did, honestly.
Now that you have lost your weight and you are dressing a smaller sized body. What is that like? Can you describe it?
I think that your mind does take the time to catch up because sometimes I see myself in a photo now and I'm like, “Oh, I'm skinny!”. It's really weird.
But before I lost weight, the same was reversed. My cousin had gotten married, and my aunt had sent me a photo of me and my husband having a slow dance. And I said, “Who the heck is he dancing with?” And it was me.
And in my mind, I was like just accept what I am and be happy. I'm alive, and I'm healthy. I went through a crap storm of things and like, and I said, you know, like, I'm not gonna rag on myself. I'm alive, and I'm healthy and let me go with that. But sometimes when you see those pictures, it's hard to ignore them.
"IT WAS ALMOST AS IF THIS SUPPORT THAT I HAD WAS GIVING ME CONFIDENCE AT ANY SIZE. SO I SAID, 'WOW, PEOPLE LIKE ME AND I'M BIG, AND THEY LIKE ME!'"
Let’s talk about the social element around eating food. How is that different for you now?
It's so much better. Before, I was not eating anything. I would go to these parties, and my best friend would roll her eyes, “Oh, what now? What diet are you doing? Why aren't you eating?”
Now everyone watches what I'm doing. I'm like, “I'm eating this, and this works for me.” And I went through the whole summer, and no one knew what I was doing cause I just looked normal and they weren't used to it. They're used to me not eating anything and so for me, I can eat, and I make small tweaks based on kind of what was required at the time. And I just made it work.
When we were further ahead in the program when we had to split our portions, I would just say “I need a break,” and I'd start talking to somebody, and then I would just go back to my meal, and nobody knew. I just did it. I love it. I'm so happy I can eat.
How was downsizing for you? Any tips for our members?
In the beginning, I just really left the two bites. Because I really love cleaning my plate, every little crumb. That's just the way I grew up. I'm Italian. I love to eat, I love my meals. I usually go back for seconds and thirds. I can smash a huge plate of pasta. I'm not shy about it.
So I started with that. Then as we did it the second time, I really started getting in my head, and I turned off the phone and turned off the TV just for a minute. Just as you're getting through your meal. Stop and think about it. And you start to really know, because I, I got to the point where I knew if I eat this one bite, I'm gonna be so mad that I did that because I knew and I didn't listen.
It's a process. I don't always listen. But when you do, and you shut off the technology, I can tell you it helps a lot. Just sit there and stare at it for a second. One more bite. What will happen?
"JUST GIVE YOURSELF THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. IT'S NOT LIKE EVERY DAY'S GOING TO BE PERFECT AND THERE ARE GOING TO BE EVENTS AND WITH THIS PROGRAM, THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS AND JUST TRY TO WORK WITH IT."
While following the program, you had a private Instagram page that you used instead of journaling. Tell us about that.
I don't really have time to write, I made a private Instagram account, and I talked to myself, and I videotaped myself. I took photos of myself, and I celebrated my wins, and I talked to myself about my losses, my frustrations, my stress, and my tears. When I felt that I wasn't moving on the scale or I didn't lose any weight, I would look back, I would have a moment, and say, “Whoa, look at what I looked like!” I almost forgot. That was my reminder, that was my reassurance that I have come so far. Because sometimes you don't even see it. You don't realize it. Nobody said a word to me. The first program that I looked good, not one person, not my husband, not my parents, not my coworkers, nobody.
It was in my second program that people said, “Did you lose weight?” So I'm telling you it was me and myself, and that's it.
Any final words of wisdom for following the program?
I would say take it one day at a time. Really try to drink that water. I found that when I was really on it, that's where I was very successful.
Just give yourself the benefit of the doubt. It's not like every day's going to be perfect, and there are going to be events, and with this program, there are so many options, and just try to work with it. But one thing that helped me and I, I think the most, was journaling.
And, Just for Fun...
What does your morning routine look like?
There is something about the early morning that I love. It’s the calm before the storm. I get up around 6am and drink my lemon water. Prepare all the lunches, including mine, and then make myself breakfast and coffee. I sit quietly and plan my day, reflect on my intentions, and then get ready for the chaos to begin around 7am. Just a little time to myself before life gets a little louder.
Describe what it means to be a Livy Loser in three words.
Three words to describe being a Livy Loser would be proud, accomplished, and calm.
What was your favourite thing to eat while following the program?
My favourite thing to eat would probably be my yogurt, nuts/seeds, and nut butter breakfast. I look forward to waking up and enjoying it peacefully. I can taste every bite because I am free of distractions. It tastes yummy, and I know it is packed with nutrient-rich ingredients to set me up for a successful day.