An Alberta man is sharing his incredible weight loss journey that was inspired by the devastating 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. Tony Bussey was one of the residents of the northern Alberta city impacted by the wildfire.
At the time, the Fort McMurray man weighed nearly 600 pounds. It wasn’t until he was one of the nearly 90,000 people forced to evacuate the city that he was motivated to lose the weight.
Bussey was working at the tire shop at one of Suncor Energy’s oilsands plant in May 2016, when the order came to evacuate the facility in the face of a wildfire that was raging dangerously close. Buses pulled up to take employees to Suncor’s airstrip.
Bussey was put at the front of the line because of his size. No one was able to sit next to him on the bus or the plane that evacuated the employees, because he required two seats.
“That had such a profound affect on me. It was everything. It was enough. That was it for me,” he said.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it the whole way down to Edmonton. I had to change from then on.”
Bussey made the change immediately after landing in Edmonton. He started walking and changed his diet by doing things like cutting out processed sugar and junk food, and not eating late at night.
“I was a horrible diet pop drinker. I was drinking 10 to 12 cans of pop a day.”
LISTEN BELOW: Tony Bussey shares his story with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen
In the first few months, he lost 100 pounds. Two and a half years later, he’s down 330 pounds.
The 44-year-old has published a book on Amazon detailing his experience: “Through Thick & Thin: How a wildfire was a wakeup call to transform my life.”
“There’s nothing worse than feeling absolutely alone and when you’re almost 600 pounds you feel like there’s nobody else in the world struggling with this,” Bussey said.
“I wanted to show people there are other people out there dealing with this, especially at that size.”
While writing the book, Bussey had to recount and remember the challenging times before his weight loss, which he said was difficult.
“When I sat down with the gentleman that was helping me — Mark Griffin — and we started to write the book, he asked questions that I haven’t thought about in years. So some of that is in the book and that was hard,” he said.
Bussey said he has treated his weight loss journey like an alcoholic would treat their addiction.
The Fort McMurray man hopes his book can inspire others to make their health a priority.
“If I can do it at the age of 41 and almost 600 pounds and lose this weight naturally, then anybody can.”
Bussey said he’s also doing some public speaking in hopes of inspiring others.
— With files from Bob Weber, The Canadian Press