FAMILY
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Husband, Business Owner, Coach, Diet Coke Lover, First In Family: Tom SanGiacomo

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For me First In simply means Re-Birth, Reincarnation, turning back the hands of time so quickly to reverse decades of doing damage. It means a 2nd Chance!”

Tell us a little bit about yourself... ​

I’m Tom SanGiacomo (54yrs old) from Belleville, New Jersey (born and raised). I own and operate my construction company since 2003 specializing in playgrounds and synthetic turf. I am married to my wife Nancy for 15yrs (first marriage for both of us with no kids). I am also the co-owner/head coach of North Jersey Volleyball Club for about 200 high school age students. Some of my interests and hobbies are playing beach/indoor volleyball at a high level, golf, softball, travel, hitting the beach every weekend and gambling.

What brought you to the First In Family initially?

I was told about FIN thru current member Dr. Jay Villani in 11/2019 in which I was seeing him for treatment of a pinched nerve. During a visit he nicely asked ” are you looking to do something about your weight?” (275lbs at the time). My answer was as we were closing in on the holiday season was of course “as I usually do around this time of year.”

Dr. Jay explained the FIN way, and even tho I truly didn’t understand the process completely I saw his excitement in telling me this process and how great it was for him. That weekend I traded some emails with Jonathan, which still didn’t really help with my understanding of the entire process, but like I have done in the past I was ready to try yet another system to get healthier, so I signed up blindly basically just going by Dr. Jay’s recommendation.

Tell us a little bit about your background and history with food.

I’m not going to lie, I love good tasting food and I love fine dining, and I also loved mass eating. First and foremost growing up Italian, in New Jersey, food is a huge part of the culture, family, holidays and just going out with the boys.

Growing up Italian to me is possibly the best cuisine, secret family recipes, etc… food is an integral part of the culture. Also, living in NJ/NY area I feel there are some of the greatest restaurants/dining experiences anywhere. When we travel no matter were we go I always say to my wife that we are so spoiled on food I am rarely impressed.

The other side of that is the mass eating with the boys, to go out after playing a sport, watching football at the bar on a sunday, 10 cent all u can eat wings, chinese buffet for lunch with the work crew, etc….. In high school I played football/wrestled at 235lbs, in college played baseball at 215lbs, my best shape/lowest weight was 190lbs when I was coaching and playing beach volleyball at a high level in 1990. From there as life became busy, injuries happen, weight starting climbing, the cycle of losing weight and gaining more back began. When I got married in 2006 I weighed 215 and the cycle continued to my high of 275.

What was the turning point in your life when you realized you needed to make a change?

There were probably two lightbulb moments that called for change. The first and most important was health. My annual physical came with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatigue from sleep apnea (the scary part of the sleep apnea was waking up to panic attacks because I stopped breathing).

The second reason was more ego on the volleyball courts. As I gained weight my skill level and knowledge of the game still allowed me to compete at a high level, but then as I started losing to players I knew I was much better than, the ego was starting to be affected and I was not ready for retirement.

What was the journey like and what changes did you make?

To begin with I have never enjoyed training,(to me I did it because it had to be done), I love playing sports and excelled at them thru technique and knowledge but never killed myself working out. As I started my FIN journey it was holiday time so that was a challenge coming out of the start as well as just understanding tracking, weighing , planning, and macros.

I knew I would easily figure all that out in time but some changes I knew I had to make on my journey was 1.) I could no longer be lazy with food, I needed to take control of prepping, planning, waking up a little earlier to make breakfast instead of getting it on the run, bringing lunch instead of just winging it with the guys, going out with the guys and not eating/drinking like I used to. 2.) This was my journey, and my wife is very supportive, but this is not her journey and she has enough stresses in life and it is not her job to prep, plan, my meals /foods/or snacks. So, I do help in the kitchen much more and we eat the same dinner (i just ask that I know what we are having and I do the numbers), it is important that we have open communication about food/dinners/eating out when 1 of us is doing this plan and the other is not.

As far as working out as I started losing weight I started to get more energy, I walk everyday 4-5miles, play whatever sport I am into at the time, and use a trainer 3 times a week. When Covid shut down New Jersey in March, it actually helped me really focus on me, eating, and working out since there were really no travel, social engagements, or just hanging out so I feel I took full advantage of the negative situation and turned it into a huge positive for my own health.

How do you feel after making those changes?

All is absolutely great, when I hit week 52 with FIN, I was down to 186lbs from 275lbs!! Off all medications, no more sleep issues, no more snoring (happy wife!), 32″ waist from a 44″,wearing a large shirt from XXL, playing beach volleyball tournaments again, tons of compliments and mind, body , soul at peak performance.

What did your friends/family think of your transformation?

Everybody has been absolutely awestruck with my 1 year accomplishment. Everyone has been very supportive, even the few in the beginning that thought this would be short lived. The ones most impressed are my former students I’ve coached back in 1990 that I have been to their weddings and now are having kids.

Were you active or did you workout during your journey?

In the beginning I was just walking and playing whatever sport was in season. In March when Covid hit I started walking much more and added rucking into the mix based on the FIN group’s Monday night ruck. I did my own basement workout with light dumbells and bands (that’s all I owned) until gyms re-opened in NJ, then I started using a personal trainer.

What does being First In mean to you?

It simply means Re-Birth, Reincarnation, turning back the hands of time so quickly to reverse decades of doing damage. It means a 2nd Chance!

What’s next for you and where do you see this journey taking you in the future? ​

There really is no number goal on the scale, at this point its just health, how i feel, how i look, and how clothes fit. My wife and I will be fortunate enough to both be retired fairly early in our lives so this will allow me to have the energy to sight see, hike, and enjoy foods as we travel the world.

What was the biggest challenge or change when you started with First In and how did you overcome it?

Overall to me the process is pretty simple, life has enough stresses to throw at you, so my eating plan doesn’t need to be. What is stressful is never eating cookies, wings, pizza, and cheesecake and this will allow you that and even more of it as you progress.

I made a decision early in this process that I was not going to beat myself up over the numbers if there was a bad day or I missed by a couple of grams or cals, that is not my personality, but I was pretty good for the most part 9/10 times. As time goes on the habit begins to take shape and it becomes easier and easier. In the beginning as mentioned the tuffest was starting at holiday time when there are those special foods around you don’t get all year.

You do have the learning curve of weighing, planning, understanding where foods fit into what macros and expanding your pallet of food choices.

What are your top 5 "secrets" for success?

1. Show up everyday, even if its not your best day it will be better than burning down the house, and if you burn down the house no regrets show up tomorrow

2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, it’s your journey

3. Be patient, slow and steady, it is a marathon a new way of living, results will happen

4. Become active with food prep, bulk cooking, planning, don’t depend on others, it is your tastes and likes, the more you have foods and flavors you enjoy the easier it will be

5. (Maybe the most important) Use the group (the Family)!! Can you do this process without it? Probably, but it helps alot, from food tips you never thought of, motivation, friendly competition, to everyone cheering your success.

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any advice for someone thinking about getting started?

I have tried them all just like most people, low cal, no cal, shakes, juice cleanse, atkins, south beach and was getting ready to try another new one keto, noom, but this is not a quick fix, this works, its enjoyable, its guilt free, its sustainable, it gives you a healthy relationship with food, it empowers you at holidays and social events, its a forever lifestyle, yes you can have your cake and eat it too! First In Nutrition is the Way!

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ARE YOU READY TO BE FIRST IN?

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Testimonials were given freely and service members did not receive any preferential treatment, discount, or other benefit due to the nature of their service, rank, or position and in no way are the views or beliefs of any branch of the armed forces or uniformed services.