Talk Takeaway: Health with Tory Johnson

Posted on Nov 12, 2013 10:45am

Tory Johnson is an author, small business expert and entrepreneur who is best known as a contributor for ABC's "Good Morning America." In December 2011 Tory's female boss at ABC News implicitly suggested that Tory needed to lose weight in order to keep her on-air job. For someone who had been overweight and unhappy about it her whole life, this was exactly the jump start that Tory needed. Her new book, "The Shift," chronicles her year-long weight loss journey and how she completely changed her way of thinking when it came to dieting. 

By Tory Johnson

I'm not a doctor, nutritionist or trainer. I'm an ordinary woman who lost a lot of weight – more than 60 lbs in a year—after trying and failing at every diet under the sun.  I'd fail because I always gave up too quickly.  So as I set out on this new journey—one I viewed as mandatory—I realized that what I put in my head would be more powerful than what I put in my mouth. I needed a mental plan to go with my meal plan.

Anyone who wants to lose weight knows she should eat less, move more and cut out foods that have made her fat. For me, I chose to strictly limit carbs because it's cut-and-dried with no ambiguity.  I now eat a fraction of the food that I used to. When I started out, I felt like I was eating like a mouse, but with time I found that it's more than enough. I don't walk around starving.

My mind shift took more creativity—and still does.  I was up for the challenge, which sometimes is an hourly struggle, but in the end, the results are worth it.

Here are seven Shift tips that work for me:

  • Weigh yourself daily.  If I'm up, I'm more determined. If I'm down, I'm more motivated.

  • Pause before giving into temptation.  I learned that a walk around the block beats an Oren Bender.

  • Read nutritional labels or check an app. Paying attention to these details has enabled me to make smarter food choices.

  • If tempted to binge, grab nail polish. Yup, applying clear top coat has saved me from countless calories.  You can't stick wet nails into a bag of chips.   

  • Keep safe snacks on hand.  Sour pickles. Smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels. Celery and a teaspoon of peanut butter.  Hail Merry two-pack choco macaroons.   

  • Put old photos on display. Some people are motivated by looking at supermodels in bikinis. For me, there's nothing like dozens of pictures of my (former) triple chin to stay the course.

  • No "cheat" days. Rewarding a week of healthy eating with cake and cookies is akin to an alcoholic celebrating a month of sobriety with a few beers.  It doesn't work.  But if you slip, get back on that horse instantly.  Day One can always be right now.


In order to make the Shift, dig deep for the answers to these five questions as they apply to you.  


1) How Fed Up Are You, Really?  

When the pain and possible penalty of being fat outweighed the pain and likely pleasure of changing, I knew I was ready to Shift.

2) What Are You Willing To Give Up?

For the Shift to work, nothing can be more important than tackling your goal. It's an all-or-nothing deal, as hard as it sounds. And it is hard, but it becomes easier with time. I gave up various foods, I finally started to exercise and I made lifestyle changes.  For example, I regrettably didn't go to a movie for a year because the thought of being around that buttered popcorn—but not eating it—seemed more torturous than simply staying home.

3) What's Your Plan?

There's no winging it when it comes to making any significant life change. Spell out clear, concise rules to eliminate any ambiguity. For me, cutting carbs was a big one. No cheat days was another.

4) What's Your Daily Accountability?

It's easy to slip when no one is looking. Daily weigh-ins and a Nike Fuel Band still keep me on track.

5) How Will You Embrace Patience and Celebrate Victories?  
Whenever I tried to lose weight, I'd always give up because I was too impatient. I wanted instant results. I view the Shift not as a diet but as a journey that's going to take time. My rewards are inedible—lighting a beautiful candle, a quick manicure, smaller size clothing.

 The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight & Discovered a Happier Life is available everywhere books are sold.  Connect with Tory directly at, @ToryJohnson or  

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