Stephen Gagliardo is a DevOps Engineer who has been with X-Team for almost four years. Before X-Team, because of his long commute, he couldn't lead a healthy lifestyle and weighed 344 lbs (156 kg). Today, he weighs 160 lbs (72 kg). In this interview, we discuss how remote work allowed him to transform his body.
Tell me a little about your commute before you joined X-Team.
Before X-Team, I'd commute four to five hours a day to and from NYC. I'd take the train from upstate NY for about 1 h 45 into Grand Central Terminal. Depending on what job it was, it was either a five to ten minute walk to work from there, or a twenty-minute subway ride and then a ten minute walk, so it varied a little bit.
What made you decide you needed to do something about that?
The commute was pretty brutal, and one of the reasons why I left the employee life. It's just a lot of time to spend on the way to something. It felt like all my time at home was meant for sleeping, eating, and showering. I was living at work, rather than living at home.
And the commute had a big impact on your health.
Yes, my health wasn't great. I wasn't on death's door or anything, but it had begun to take a toll on me. I had high blood pressure, had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and was borderline diabetic.
When I joined X-Team, I weighed 344 lbs (156kg). X-Team gave me a 2X shirt that I couldn't fit into because my shirt size was 3X or 4X USA size. Tying my shoes was a problem and stairs were a problem. I was miserable.
So you started looking for remote work. How did you find X-Team?
I had been looking around for a while, at all kinds of remote companies. I think I found X-Team originally through We Work Remotely I think, at the time. I applied about one year or even two years before there was an X-Team job that fit my skills.
Once you joined X-Team, how did you take charge of your health?
So one of the main reasons I joined X-Team was to get healthier via eating and sleeping better—exercise wasn't even my goal originally. The first major step was to track what I was eating. If you don't track what you're eating, you can't know whether what you're doing is working. Just having insight into how much I was actually eating was helpful.
Once I realized how much I could eat without gaining weight, I slowly started to reduce my calories until I started losing a few pounds a month. One or two max a week, in line with healthy weight loss standards.
Once you figure out how much you need to target in terms of calories, the rest kind of falls into place on its own. Eating calorically dense food like cookies or other bad food choices typically leaves you less full, so I would naturally gravitate away from them toward food that filled me up. When I first started dieting, apples tasted acidic to me, almost unpalatable. Now, they taste like candy. Over time, your tastes adjust.
What made you incorporate exercise into your routine?
When I reached a plateau in my weight, I had to increase the amount of exercise I did. I was getting close to the 1500-calories-a-day minimum and it's not healthy to drop below that level. My health was good and my weight was steady, but I was often really hungry. If you want to eat more and lose weight, you have to keep moving (literally). So the only path out of my weight plateau was exercise.
I took a lot of my reading outside. I actually used some of my X-Team Unleash+ budget on Audible, so I wound up listening to audiobooks while I was walking with weights (rucking) or jogging. It made exercise less boring, and it kept my mind active. I still do this. I'm currently listening to Ray Dalio's book Principles.
How long did it take before you got to your current weight?
It took almost three years to get down to 160 lbs (72 kg). I lost more weight than I currently weigh. So I'm less than half the person I used to be (physically, at least). I took a quick screengrab of my phone from when I first started tracking my calories in an app. This was about twenty to thirty pounds into my weight loss.
You can see my weight loss wasn't instant. It took persistence. I had good days and bad days, but the difference between this time and previous times in my life is that I could put the bad in perspective. I didn't hit my target that day? Not good, but I also hit my target 29/30 days that month. So suck it up, get over it, and start another thirty days. One mantra I would tell myself is "the failures of yesterday don't have to be the failures of today." Perspective is everything.
That's a great way of looking at failure. What happened to your other health problems?
So I still have sleep apnea (not really fixable), but I've essentially fixed all the problems I had when I started. I almost have the same problem with X-Team shirts, but the other way round. Currently on a medium size. I have the inverse problem with stairs or hills when hiking too, so I add weights to my backpack to make it more difficult. About 45 lbs (21 kg) currently. It's basically the polar opposite of my life when I joined.
So as a final question, how do you feel today?
Good! Busy. While it's more work to stay healthy than it is to eat garbage, I feel leaps and bounds better.
Do you want to join a company that enables you to regain control over your life and your health? You can! X-Team is always looking for experienced software engineers. Send through your application today.