It’s hard to imagine that Brian Busto, a biomedical equipment technician, has struggled with his weight for most of his life. The trim marathoner once shunned physical activity and depended on medication to control high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. His transformation from an unhealthy 308 pounds to a 185-pound physique was not without setbacks along the way, but he credits his success to the support of friends and coworkers, his strong faith in God, and Mercy’s Employee Wellness resources and support team.
A six-year Mercy employee, the 39-year-old Canton native doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t struggle with his weight. “I grew up in a household where the clean-your-late mentality was the rule. Sports weren’t encouraged in our family, so I didn’t get much exercise either.” By the time he was in eighth grade, the weight began to affect his mental health. “Kids were so cruel. Even to this day, it’s very hard for me to forget the hurtful things people said, the way people looked at me,” he said, adding that the bullying led to depression.
A wake-up call
In 2010, Brian sought medical treatment for a persistent ear infection. Weighing in at 300 pounds, the results from bloodwork and routine tests shocked him. “I had high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. All those years I’d been doing so much damage to my body but didn’t see it. Being put on medications was a wake-up call,” he said. “I was really worried because I knew that having these conditions at such a young age wasn’t good. But I was determined to turn it around with diet and exercise.”
While the desire was there, Brian struggled to make a lasting lifestyle change. “Pills, vitamins, supplements, I’ve fallen victim to these many times,” he said. “I’d lose some weight, then gain it all back again. Nothing worked, it was very discouraging.”
A couple years ago, Brian started making connections with Mercy coworkers who were focused on healthy living. “They offered advice on portion control, healthy foods, how to choose carbs and fats, and guided me toward the best healthy proteins,” he said. “Something clicked, and I became committed to losing weight in a healthy way.”
As weight started to drop off, Brian took up running, starting off slow and eventually completing the 2017 Akron Marathon in 5:17. A coworker encouraged him to join a local running group. “I hesitated because I was nervous, and thought everyone would be faster than me,” Brian said. He decided to give it a try last spring to help him train for the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon. Not only did the training help him earn a 4:31 PR, he developed a relationship with a runner in the group.
“Veronica is probably the biggest reason that I’m able to maintain my weight loss,” Brian said. “She helps me keep focused.” The couple has run several races together including a half marathon in Baltimore and a 15K in Columbus. “She’s made running more social for me, more fun. It’s also nice to have someone to share the adventures.”
“I never walk alone.”
Brian’s strong faith has helped him throughout his weight loss journey. “I pray to God a lot, especially when running or riding my bike,” he said. “There were times when I felt like I might be doing all this for nothing or that I was doing the right things but wasn’t getting results. But I prayed to God to handle it and just lead me. God has brought support and comfort into my life, and He has helped me to let go of my bad habits.”
Always up for a challenge
Like many of his coworkers, Brian takes advantage of Mercy’s Wellness Program, which helps employees achieve their personal health and fitness goals. As he worked toward managing his weight, he sometimes used OPTIFAST products. Mercy’s Weight Management team assisted often with nutritional counseling.
With Mercy’s motivational employee challenges, Brian discovered he enjoyed the social aspects and competitiveness the contests offer. “I pretty much enter them all, from planking contests to weight loss challenges,” he said, adding that his team, Beast Modes, placed high in a national weight loss challenge last spring through HealthyWage.
Finding a balance
Brian’s biggest challenge was giving up the foods he craved, such as bread, pasta and sweets. “I found that increasing my protein intake works well for me, with chicken as my go-to protein,” he said. “I also try to limit refined carbs and sugar, and drink lots of water. Portion control is key for me.”
When he first started on his weight loss journey, Brian followed a strict eating plan. “Now, I do indulge in some carbs, like a slice of bread or a serving of pasta.” Recently, he enjoyed a slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream. “Before, it would have been the whole pie and a whole gallon of ice cream. I’ve learned to balance what I eat, drink and do.”
No magic pill
Medications for high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes are no longer found in Brian’s medicine cabinet. “I take no medications today,” he said. “Overall, I feel like I’m not carrying around another person, and my joints and legs thank me.”
A single dad, he wants to set an example for his two children. “There is no magic pill. Bodies were made for moving, and you must think about what foods you’re putting into your body, and how much. At this point, I understand my goals and I will never go back.”
Mercy Weight Management: A physician supervised weight loss program
Losing weight can do more than make you look better. It can help you feel better, which is far more important. Whether it’s shedding a little excess weight or losing more than 50 pounds, Mercy Weight Management can help you choose the program that’s right for your lifestyle and budget. To learn more, visit cantonmercy.org/weightloss/ or call 330-588-4854.