John Montelepre’s Weight - Loss Journey
“Touching the tables.” That’s what John Montelepre calls his 11-year-old nightly ritual.
If you dine at 2Johns Steak & Seafood in Bossier City, Montelepre – the restaurant’s amiable owner – will touch your table. That’s another way of saying he’s going to stop and say, “Hello.”
“How are you?” Montelepre asks his guests.
“How is your meal?”
But last December, the then-328- pound “Big Guy,” as he is called, “touched” a table that changed his 66-year-old life.
“Aly told me she was a nutritionist and trainer, and she could get me where I wanted to be (weight-wise) in six months,” Montelepre remembered. “I just kind of looked at her … she looked at me and said, ‘Give me a shot.’ She told me again, ‘Give me a shot.’ I said, ‘OK, you’ve got it.’” “Aly” is Aly Wilson, owner of The Extreme Fitness Studio in Shreveport. Her confidence was based on hundreds of success stories.
“I know I have what it takes to help the people who are willing to help themselves,” Wilson said. “It’s twofold. I can relay that knowledge, and if they can accept it and do it with my guidance throughout, that’s a good team right there.”
And this team, which kicked off its season Jan. 6, continues to put checkmarks in the win column.
“I’ve lost 70 pounds,” Montelepre proudly said. “I’ve lost eight pant sizes.
She just totally re-shaped my body. I’m really, really strong. I feel great. She’s just done a fabulous job.”
It’s a “job” Wilson has been doing for almost 20 years. The former Northwestern State University and East Texas Baptist University basketball player has a degree in kinesiology and a down-to-the-gram knowledge of nutrition.
“What I look for most is the amount of sugar (my clients) are taking in,” Wilson explained. “I know if someone goes from 250 grams of sugar a day to 45 over a seven-day period, that loss on the scale is going to be huge.”
And it was for Montelepre. “You get on the scale every day, and you see the weight start to fall off, and you say, ‘Golly, this girl knows what she’s doing, and what we’re doing is working.’ Almost every day, you had positive input from the scale, which is big for me.”
But the “team” faced their share of challenges.
“I like to eat,” Montelepre said. “I’m Italian. I’ve eaten in restaurants all my life. I’m a foodie.”
And then there is the fact Montelepre didn’t have to go far to eat.
“When I interviewed him the first time, he told me, ‘Aly, you don’t understand. I’ve got this restaurant, and I’m around all this delicious food.’ I told him, ‘John, that’s your perception. I could eat at your restaurant every single night and be just fine.’”
In other words, be smart about what you eat and how much you eat.
“He totally wrapped his mind around that, and he gets to eat really great food every night.”
For 14 days after that first interview, Montelepre’s assignment was to, each day, text Wilson everything he ate.
Everything. “After two weeks, she called me in on a Saturday for a consultation,” Montelepre said. “She had everything printed out – all my food I had for two weeks – every meal. She highlighted the proteins, the carbs, the fats. She went over everything line-by-line. It was about a two-and-a-half-hour meeting. She told me what I could have and what I couldn’t and why.”
“After you see what you’ve been eating, it’s a game-changer,” Wilson said. “A total game-changer.”
The game sure has changed for Montelepre, who figures his life expectancy has probably increased by 20 years.
“I used to live to eat,” he said. “Now, I eat to live. It’s just not that big a deal for me anymore.”
“If you listen to your stomach, it will tell you when it’s full,” Montelepre said. “I never listened to it before. I would just eat and eat and eat.”
But Montelepre listens now. When his stomach says it’s full, he stops eating. And a life-long craving Montelepre had for sweets has gone drier than a plate of stale sugar cookies.
“When I ate food, I wanted something sweet right after every meal. Once you get off the carbs, you don’t have that anymore. That’s gone. It’s amazing.”
As Montelepre reached certain goals – losing 25 pounds, losing 35 pounds – Wilson allowed him the opportunity to have a “cheat meal.”
“That big ol’ piece of chocolate cake,” Wilson suggested, “or that big ol’ hamburger.”
Montelepre passed. Every time. “The reason I didn’t take them is that I was on such a roll losing weight, I didn’t want to go eat a bunch of sweet stuff, or eat a big ol’ meal and get off the bandwagon.”
Wilson remembers Montelepre saying, “Aly, I’m full force. I’m all in this. I’m either in this, or I’m not.”
While diet is 80 percent of Wilson’s program, weight training is the other 20 percent. Montelepre works out three days a week, 30 minutes each day. But there’s a reason his time in Wilson’s studio only accounts for a small portion of his success.
“I can train you seven days a week for seven hours a day,” Wilson said. “But until what you put in your mouth is nutritionally sound, the aesthetics that you’re looking for, and the health you are looking for, won’t be there. If I trained you, hypothetically, seven hours a day, seven days a week, you would get stronger, and you might feel good, but that look and that health you’re after is 80 percent nutrition-based.”
These days, Montelepre has it all. He looks good, feels good, is in good health, and is definitely stronger.
“I was always pretty thin up to about 45 (years old), then I started putting weight on,” Montelepre said. “I was always really proud of myself – the way I looked, the way I dressed. That kind of went away for about 20 years, so it’s kind of good to get back to that feeling.”
That “feeling” has come at a price – a price Montelepre was happy to pay.
“I bought all new pants – twice. I had to buy a new belt – twice. All my jackets are tailored for me, and I had to take them in.”
Not surprisingly, his 70-pound weight loss has been noticed.
“We were closed for a couple of months (because of COVID restrictions), and a lot of people had not seen me for months, because a lot of them are just starting to get back out. I did all this during that time, so it’s pretty drastic when people see me. They go, ‘What happened to you?’ Some of them thought I was sick.”
“Inspiring” is how Wilson describes what has happened.
“He has done every single thing I have asked him to do. I have not had anybody do that yet. He is probably my number one success story.”
But the story isn’t over. “Aly says she’s not through with me,” Montelepre said. “She’s going to continue to re-shape my body. She says I’ve got a little more weight to lose, so we’ll see where that’s going to go.”
Pretty sure it means “Big John,” who isn’t so big anymore, is going back to the store – for smaller pants and belts.
To learn more about Wilson’s business, you may visit Facebook or Instagram and search “The Extreme Fitness Studio.”
– Tony Taglavore