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Everything Has Become Easier

Nov 15, 2021, 16:10 PM by GoodHealth Magazine

Tom Cantella Dropped 40 Pounds and Resolved Multiple Medical Issues through the Doctors’ Weight Management Program

Since its inception in 1986, the Doctors’ Weight Management Program, our medically supervised, behavior based weight loss program, has helped thousands of people successfully take off weight and gain health. The program partners with

Doctor's Weight Management Program, Tom Cantella

HMR, Health Management Resources, who supplies participants with a menu of meal replacement products for a structured but simple and nutritious diet plan.

The program is divided into two parts: Phase 1 focuses on fast and healthy weight loss. Phase 2 is where people work on weight management – learning how to keep that weight off forever! In February, we had the pleasure of sitting down (virtually) with Tom, one of our Phase 2 participants, to hear about his success with managing his weight loss that he achieved in Phase 1. From joining the program in the middle of a pandemic to experiencing new adventures in a healthier, happier body, he is certainly making the most of what the Doctors’ Weight Management Program (DWMP) offers. We hope you enjoy his story!

DWMP: How did you first get connected with the doctors’ weight management program?

Tom: I was starting to have some health issues and knew I wanted to make a change. My wife, Valerie, had gone through the program and thought it might be something that would work for me. Other diets had brought temporary weight loss and she said DWMP/HMR wasn’t just another diet, but a complete lifestyle change. I decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain!

DWMP: You began your DWMP journey at the start of 2020, which turned out to be an unpredictable year. what is

Patient who has lost weight

the most important thing you have learned from the experience of managing your weight in a pandemic?

Tom: Times of crisis or uncertainty can be seen as challenges or opportunities. Because I was ‘All In’ in my pursuit of optimal health, I looked for the things I did have control over to make positive improvements. Being home allowed me to focus on menu planning and food prep because there were no outside temptations of dining out in restaurants or attending parties, etc. I started running outdoors because my weekly basketball games at the YMCA were no longer an option. I now run or walk almost every day of the week. I also started listening to various podcasts on health and fitness that complement the DWMP/HMR approach.

DWMP: What are some of the most useful tools, principles, or strategies from phase 1 that you still use in phase 2?

Tom: I’ve learned to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into my diet so that 80% of my meals are now plant-based. Mentally tracking my daily calorie consumption and reporting my numbers twice a week keeps me accountable. Movement and exercise are a critical part of feeling good. Meal planning, food prep, and environmental control are also important components I’ve taken from Phase 1 into Phase 2.

DWMP: Keeping weight off is not easy. how do you respond when things get difficult- when you are really tempted by some unhealthy food or you notice the number on the scale starts creeping upward?

Tom: As my health coach Jordan says, “You can do hard things.” My personal experience is that I can do hard things, and I have. I got sober through a 12-step program in 2015 and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. So I knew if I applied the same level of determination and focus to DWMP/ HMR, I could achieve my weight loss goals. When I am facing temptations or an uptick on the scale, I know I can go back to Healthy Solutions or Decision-Free, and I’m constantly exploring healthy snack alternatives like yogurt and fruit instead of chocolate, doughnuts or cookies.

DWMP: How has your quality of life changed since losing weight and keeping it off? are there any activities or events you have particularly enjoyed as a result of being 40 pounds lighter? 

Tom: With the weight loss, everything has become easier – from tying my shoes to running on the beach – things I could

Picture of Tom Cantella at the beach

never do comfortably before. I’ve always loved the beach. Feeling comfortable in a bathing suit is something I haven’t felt in many years, and now I do. Travel is easier. My sleep is better. My blood pressure and cholesterol numbers have come way down, and my wife hasn’t complained about my snoring in a long time.

This summer I’m planning a backcountry trip on horseback with my son, and the weight limit is 200 pounds. I wouldn’t have been able to experience this adventure with him if I hadn’t found DWMP/HMR and lost the weight.

DWMP: Which snack, piece of exercise equipment, or kitchen gadget is one useful tool that you think everyone should know about?

Tom: By far, the air fryer is the best piece of equipment we’ve added to our kitchen. We have used it almost every day for the last 10 months and love making broccoli, cauliflower, onions, sweet potatoes, green beans, and more in it. Definitely a good investment and an extremely useful tool for healthy meal preparation. Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to share your story with all of us. We are so grateful to work with you, so delighted with your progress, and we wish you all the best on your horseback adventure this summer. Giddy up!

To schedule an appointment with Sansum Clinic’s Doctors’ Weight Management Program, please call (805) 563-6190. Visit online at:

Photo caption (top): Before picture

Photo caption (middle): After picture

Photo caption (bottom): Tom Cantella comfortable in a bathing suit after many years