WHEN I FIRST appeared as an investor on Shark Tank in 2009, I was thin and weighing in at approximately 173 pounds. Seven years later, I was in a new marriage, had a new baby coming, and I gained 30 to 40 pounds. Then I got cancer. In 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 thyroid cancer after my doctor found a nodule during a physical. Half of my thyroid was removed, and I’m now cancer-free. My cancer battle gave me a renewed outlook on my health and wellness.
I have always been big on goal setting. Every seven years, I make 10 new goals for myself to get to a new level of change in my life: six 6-month goals, one 2-year goal, one 5-year goal, one 10-year goal, and one 20-year goal that I read to myself first thing every morning and the last thing every night before I go to bed. My weight loss goal on the list in January 2017 was to lose approximately 25 pounds. This goal was on my list 12 times within six years until I accomplished it. My ultimate health goal, however, is to be able to walk my three beautiful girls down the aisle [as my healthiest self]. So I got serious about my weight loss journey in June 2022. Since then, I have lost 40 pounds and have been maintaining it. I went from 205 pounds to 165 pounds.
First Thing’s First: Cut Out Alcohol
I’m a very common sense person. P&L…profit and loss. There was something I wasn’t doing right, and that was eliminating alcohol. I’d drink anywhere from two to four days per week. [At first] I was making excuses to do everything but fully eliminate alcohol. I’d tell myself I’m only going to have one shot, or I’m only going to drink when I’m around people I hate so I can tolerate them. Then it became I’m only going to drink around people I love so I can have fun. And then I said this is something you can no longer do. And when I did it, guess what happened? Twelve pounds came right off. I haven’t missed alcohol at all. I love the feeling of [sobriety]. Now I’ll order a mocktail. I had no idea they were so good.
Then I Got Moving…
I travel 250 days a year. When I’m not traveling, every morning I accompany my daughter to school. Once she gets dropped off around 8 a.m., my driver drops me off 10 miles from home. I get an average of 700 emails and texts a day, and I sleep an average of four hours. But I had to maximize my time. I know I am going to have calls every day, so what can I do simultaneously that’s better for my health? For me, that was walking. I wear my ASICS Gel-Nimbus shoes and start to make my way back home by walking, which usually takes me three hours (unless the weather is bad, then I will walk on a treadmill). I average 23,000 to 32,000 steps a day. I’ll add in some running two to three times per week. I will walk 10 minutes, run five. Walk 20 minutes, run 20.
I track everything on my Apple Watch, and I have friends who also use it. We don’t compete, but it’s cool when they tell me, “I saw you closed your loop. Damn, how did you do it?” I also use the fitness tracking app Strava. Could I be more efficient [with my time]? Yes. Maybe I’ll start cutting those three hours of walking down into an hour-and-a-half and get a trainer.
I also make an effort to hit the gym for an hour two to three times per week. I work on calisthenics, mostly for my legs, core, and back. I have to be careful with anything to do with my shoulders because both of my rotator cuffs are ripped from when I used to train for fitness competitions. (I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone these days!) With free weights or kettlebells, I’ll stick to lighter sets, like four sets of 11 to 15 reps of moves like bicep and triceps curls. I’ll also grab weights in-between or when I’m on calls. For rest and recovery, I have started to use a cold plunge at a friend’s house, and I want to start doing more of that. I also get therapeutic massages, and I have been starting to go to Gary Brecka and using oxygen chambers.
…And Adjusted My Diet
I eat a low-carb to no-carb diet. I used to do intermittent fasting, but when I didn’t eat for 12 to 18 hours…I needed a bucket of chicken. Now, I focus on eating cleaner and paying attention to when I am actually hungry. I stopped the habit of going, “It’s lunchtime. I must eat. It’s dinner, I must eat.” If I’m not hungry, I don’t eat, and I just wait.
When I am traveling, I schedule food deliveries the day before to make sure I eat healthy. It’s the opposite of going to the supermarket when you’re hungry—I already know what I’m having. Hydration is also important. My goal is to drink 10 bottles of water a day, but I never get to 10. I drink closer to five to six bottles, but I want to work on drinking more.
The biggest challenge I have with my fitness routine is due to the inconsistency of travel and not being at home. When and how do I get the workout in that I want? I stay in a lot of hotels—the gyms are not 24 hours, or the weather in the city I am in might be super cold or extremely hot, which is not conducive for walks. So I have to pack the right walking gear. As much as I would like to stay in my hotel room and do a bunch of calisthenics, it’s just not me.
I will continue to set health goals for myself. Work-life balance is always something I am adjusting. I am down to 165 pounds, but my goal is to get to 168 pounds and add some muscle. I also want to reduce my caffeine intake. I’m not a big coffee guy, but I will drink too many unsweetened iced teas. I’ll have an energy drink here and there. Maybe I’ll cut out caffeine altogether.
Since I’ve [started] this [health] journey, my life is just so much better. We all need to do that hard look in the mirror, whether it’s revisiting the fundamentals that got us here or [giving ourselves] a reset. How deep are you willing to dig to get to that satisfaction that you know will eventually be there? Whether it’s cutting people out of your life, finding God, working out, spending more time with nature, spending more time with your family, saying sorry, and not letting your ego get in the way. Whatever the case may be, it’s dealing with those things we wrestle with and making different decisions.
What I Eat in a Day:
Pre-Breakfast: Before breakfast, I take my Synthroid medication, as well as Prevacid and a baby aspirin
Breakfast: Green juice, black coffee, and egg whites with onions, spinach, and avocado. I also take multivitamins, a hoodia supplement to curb my appetite, and psyllium husk (a.k.a. fiber)
Snack: KIND bar
Lunch: Grilled chicken kabobs or salmon followed by a cayenne pepper supplement
Snack: Cup of yogurt and fruit (grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, or banana)
Dinner: I prefer an early dinner, around 6 p.m., and more grilled chicken and vegetables
Dessert: I recently got a sweet tooth, and will sometimes have cookies or ice cream with my daughter
Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness. She is currently based in Pennsylvania and loves all things antiques, cilantro, and American history.