In 2016 the Fort McMurray wildfire tore through over 3,700 square miles of Alberta and Saskatchewan provinces in Canada. It caused over 80,000 people to evacuate and extensive damage.
One of those people was Tony Bussey.
Bussey weighed 567 pounds at the time, wore size 66 pants, and struggled to put on his own socks.
Just when everyone thought it was safe to return back to their homes, the fire picked up and emergency planes were sent in to evacuate people. Bussey was working when the planes arrived.
When he got to the emergency planes, he was moved to the front of the line because of his weight. The special treatment slightly bothered him, but he was getting used to it.
When he sat down, he took up two seats on the plane. As he saw his co-workers walk past him down the aisle, it hit home.
Bussey told CBC News, “I kept thinking, ‘Here it is: somebody’s wife, somebody’s husband, somebody’s family member is waiting for their mom or dad or their loved one to come home, and their loved ones have to wait longer now because I’m too fat to sit next to.'”
He had found his passion to lose the weight. Once he landed in Edmonton, he began his journey.
Even when he was living out of a hotel room during the evacuation he made small changes like switching out fries for veggies and going on short walks.
“You used to think there was no hope. That it was just total despair that you were that big. That there was no going back. It was almost as if you were just waiting to die, as sad as that sounds, but that’s all your life was,” he remembers.
He has now lost 326 pounds! “All naturally. No surgery, no anything. Just watching what I eat and walking,” he said. “I basically went on a low-carb, high protein diet.”
He does have about 20-30 pounds of excess skin that he plans on removing surgically at some point, but his weight loss up until this point has been completely natural.
Because of his weight loss, he has found new freedom! He plans on traveling more and even wants to run a marathon in three years — on the fifth anniversary of the fire.
“The fire, for all the destruction, and for all the hell that it caused … it saved my life,” Bussey said.
Now he is using his story to inspire others to stick to their weight loss goals: “There is hope. I was 41 when I started this, almost 600 pounds. If I can do this, anyone can.”
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