Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

A Role Model For Healthy Living!

on October 27, 2010

So, you all seemed to enjoy my post about Alexis, I figured I would share more of my inspirations with you.

I have worked with Jeff Ruscio for 7 years and in the last 18 months I have noticed a drastic difference. Not only does he look amazing; but he is a true advocate for a healthy lifestyle. Since starting my blog he and I have had discussions about everything from Greek yogurt (and how they fit so much protein in such a tiny container) to HFCS (and why corn is synonymous with “the devil” for him). I think you’ll enjoy this Q and A – and seeing the change someone has made all by themselves. No TV show, no crazy diet pills, just hard work and healthy eating! 🙂

Here is Jeff before (note: he nearly KILLED me for having this picture saved. I save EVERYTHING!):

Jeff circa 2004 (pardon the hand, I had to crop someone out)

Here is Jeff now:

Jeff and his lovely wife Maureen. Aren't they adorable?! 🙂

AMAZING right?! Having known him before I can say he is definitely a changed man inside and out.

Now, our Q and A: (My questions or comments are in bold).

Were you heavy as a child?

I was always heavy.  The heaviest that I specifically noted was 275 when I said enough was enough about a year and a half ago – but I think I was easily around 285 at some point in college.

Had you tried to lose weight before?

Pretty much all the time since high school.  I had inconsistent bouts with dieting, going to the gym, etc. one too many times over many years.

What was your breaking point?

Turning 30 and getting married really opened my eyes.

What habit was the hardest to give up?

Being inconsistent…and realizing “diets” are not the answer.  I’d do the gym thing and eating right thing for a month or so, but eventually “get too busy” or whatever and fall back into that old pattern.  Even though I’m down 80 lbs, I still have to work very hard to keep myself on track.  Of course not going to Beer Works and taking down 3 beers, an app and my own entrée was tough – but honestly I don’t miss it and a lot of it isn’t really appealing to me.

Is your end game reaching a certain weight or completion of a full marathon or something els?

At first I would say yes – but even in the past with crash diets, the weight is not going to keep itself off – I realized a while ago that this is a lifetime thing that I need to stick with.

My ultimate goal from the start was to hit 185 – this was around January 2009.  I wanted to be at or below 220 for my wedding in October.  I hit 217 in late August and I think I floated around 215 for my wedding….then gained 7 on my honeymoon (I really didn’t care).  From there I needed to come up with a new goal.  I then decided to give up all meat and alcohol for 2 months starting on January 1, 2010….all while keeping in mind that I wanted to eventually do a half marathon.  This was sort of a mental challenge, rather than a physical one.  During that time I had a wedding, a business trip to NYC, a few birthday parties and many night’s out with friends.  It wasn’t easy, but it gave me the opportunity to rely on other certain types of foods/meals for my diet – and for me it really kept me focused with my life overall.  Shortly after that ended, I signed up for the half marathon and eventually started an 8-week cross-training session.  I completed the half-marathon on September 25 with a time of 02:01:02.  I am now training for a Halloween Morning 6.66 mile race and a Turkey Day 5 mile race….but I’m also thinking about doing a 20-mile race in March as well as planning on joining a team to do a 200-mile relay race in Vermont later next year.

I’d still like to hit 185 though!

How did you overcome the negative talk / “I can never accomplish this” voice in your head? (I shut the bitch up with cookies…but I know that’s counterproductive, lol).

A few things.

A friend of mine told me to get on the scale and absolutely hate the number that pops up.  Not exactly positive thinking, but has always stuck with me.

Other things are more personal – they’re thoughts that come from negative (and positive!) places that still keep me motivated when I think I’m down.

Bottom line is you have to tell yourself “fuck you” and keep pushing because results don’t (and shouldn’t) come overnight.

What’s your diet like now; what are you favorite foods?

Eating at home – avoiding restaurants like the plague.  However, you do need to give yourself a break every now and then.

Borderline vegetarian – 90% of my meat consumption Turkey/Boneless-Skinless Chicken (99% Fat Free Ground Turkey, low-sodium deli turkey).

Avoiding such ingredients on food labels:  high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, modified corn starch.  Try to avoid/limit saturated fats, look for monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats & OMEGA-3’s.

Tons of fresh produce, beans/lentils/legumes, brown rice/whole wheat pastas, sweet potatoes

Veggie Burgers (“MorningStar” Black Bean burgers)

Increased fiber (Trader Joe’s has a lot of good/quality options for bread, cereal, etc.)

Grilled fish

No fried food (every once in a great while I will have some, but it’s rare)

Low sodium.

Skim milk.


No regular soda….very limited diet soda.  Instead: water, seltzer/Pellegrino w/ lemon.

Organic Yogurts:  Stonyfield Farms and Chobani Greek Yougurt are very good brands w/ quality ingredients.

All-natural peanut butter

Triscuits and Trader Joe’s Hummus

Eggs & egg whites with turkey bacon

Canned tuna

However I still have my vices:
CARBS….I love them and they love me. (me too!)

Sometimes I drink way too much coffee…but no sugar.

Beer….I like my heavy beers.


Tortilla chips…although BJ’s sells a stoned-ground corn tortilla chip that isn’t too bad for you.

Do you like cooking? Have a favorite recipe?

I have a passion for cooking, which has been a huge help.  I have a dozen or so recipes in rotation….but one that might be appropriate for this topic:

1lb. Salmon fillet – apply a thin layer of yellow mustard then a thin layer of brown sugar.  Only needs to set in the fridge for 10-15 minutes….not overnight.  Grill over med/high heat for about 15-20 minutes.  I will usually flip the fish every 5 minutes.  The fish is done when it begins to flake and it no longer opaque/pink on the inside.

1lb will easily serve 2 people.

Serve with the following:
1. Boiled Jasmine rice


2. Grilled Sweet Potatoes:
2-3 medium-sized sweet potatoes – diagonally slice into ¼” thick pieces.  Place into 1 gallon zip-lock bag and add 1-2 TBSP of olive oil, and light-ish dusting of: cumin powder, curry powder, chili powder, dried basil, 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic; minced, freshly grounded black pepper, pinch of kosher salt.  Seal up the bag and shake to incorporate/mix all flavors.  Grill potato sliced over medium/high heat for about 6 minutes on each side, usually turning every 2-3 minutes.

…And (with both of the above)…

A side of grilled veggies — Skewered: Onion, Red/Green Bell Pepper, & Mushrooms.  Sliced Eggplant, placed directly on grill grates.  Spray veggies with Pam and dust with kosher salt/black pepper and any other spices you like.  When finished, drizzle with fresh lemon juice.

How do you cope with going out to eat @ restaurants?

When I go out to eat with my wife, Maureen, we split an entrée.
If it’s just myself with a group, I have done research ahead of time to look for a plate with the fewest calories/saturated fat…or choose something that’s grilled/steamed rather than fried – substitute any French fries or anything overly salty/greasy for steamed veggies.

With that said, you need to live a little and cheat every once in a while…. especially for myself where I love food. It really is all in moderation.

Jeff recently completed a half-marathon w/ his lovely wife. How awesome is that?! What prompted you to undertake a half marathon? How did you start running?

The thing that really did it was The Biggest Loser.  Seeing these people who were in some cases way worse than me take on the challenge of doing half/full marathons was incredibly inspiring and it sort of occurred to me that there was no reason why I couldn’t do that.

I started running years ago….barely being able to run a half-mile without stopping.  But like many times previous, that only lasted so long.  When I made the decision to completely change my lifestyle I looked towards running as my main source of exercise, at first.  Things progressed from there – now I’m sure its borderline obsession.

Besides running, have you taken up any new hobbies, or found old hobbies to be more fun?

I’ve always been active, but I’ve been an avid mountain biker for the past 6 years or so – if anything, losing the weight has increased my confidence, stamina and performance on the trails.

What’s your favorite song on your iPod for working out?

I’m now on my 4th revision of my gym playlist, but some that have made the cut every time are:

Thrash Unreal – Against Me

Unholy Confessions – Avenged Sevenfold

The Adventure – Angels & Airwaves

Two Shoes – The Cat Empire

The River – Good Charlotte

Unsung – Helmet

Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park

Start Something – Lostprophets

New Noise – Refused

30/30-150 – Stone Sour

Iris – Live

Secret Weapon – MxPx

Who is your biggest weight-loss inspiration?

Inspiration:  The Biggest Loser

Inspiration and motivation:  My wife (awww! So cute right?! I’ve only met Maureen once, but I remember the girl has killer shoes and is super adorable).

Having lost 80  pounds do you think you’ve changed on the inside too? If so, how?

Some people make comments that I come off as more confident than I have in the past, but honestly as good as I feel now a majority of the time I think I’m still stuck in the mid-200’s.  It really doesn’t sink in until I see pictures of myself now, compared to a couple of years ago.  I’m guessing that’s “normal” for something you’ve been dealing with your entire life.

There you have it. Kickass huh? 🙂 I’m enjoying these stories and hope to share one every few weeks!



One response to “A Role Model For Healthy Living!

  1. […] every single day (no excuses!), eating right and cutting out alcohol, sweets AND junk. My friend Jeff is currently in the middle of a “Lent” type thing – he’s given up meat or […]

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