0612: Weight Loss & Great Gains


By: Sasha Fields

 Tracy Ryan lost 200 pounds in one year through her training at Zen Fitness, and cameras caught every life-changing moment. 


Although Tracy Ryan, 30, has spent most of her life morbidly obese, she was never uncomfortable in her own skin. In spite of being “fat and happy,” there were numerous obstacles that affected her quality of life. Her sense of humor revolved around her weight. There were daily overwhelming challenges, including the inability to walk upstairs, limited access to seating in restaurants and theaters and discrimination from those around her.

In 2011, a friend suggested that she meet with Carly Asse, owner of Zen Fitness, who was producing a documentary entitled “Un-Supersize Me.” The purpose of the documentary was to show how a whole foods, plant-based diet and regular exercise could transform someone’s health and life. His message was clear and undeniably important: Simple, smart daily health decisions can completely change your body and way of life.

Ryan, who had never exercised a day in her life, was inspired by the program from the very beginning. Asse, along with his Zen Fitness team, made the workout routines fun and doable. His plan was comprehensive—in addition to the weight training and cardio sessions, he incorporated grocery shopping, cooking instruction, and guidance on living an active lifestyle as she was partaking in many new activities for the first time in her life.

She recalled one of her rougher days at the gym when she just didn’t feel like training. Someone at the gym came up to her and said that although she didn’t know her, she was inspired by her tremendous change in lifestyle and rapid weight loss. Ryan was changing the lives of others by motivating them with her determination and results.

Her diet plan was simple—no counting calories or keeping a food journal. She could eat whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted as long as it was in line with her vegan, plant-based diet. If she wanted to get up at 3 a.m. and have a snack—that was fine. It took the stress out of dieting. She lost 27 pounds in two weeks and as the pounds came off, she started to really like the way she looked.

“I don’t make fun of the way I look anymore because I realize I no longer need to use humor as a means of deflection,” she said.

While she was losing weight, she was gaining so much in her day-to-day life.  Asse’s philosophy on health was infectious. He told her to not focus on what she was giving up but instead on what she was gaining. He encouraged her to take note of how she felt after a huge steak dinner compared to a healthy vegan dish. Her moods began to improve and she had more energy—the happy person was becoming happier.

While the number on the scale was rapidly decreasing, more important than that number were the changes in Ryan’s body.

“I looked and felt better, my energy was at an all-time high, and my sleep had dramatically improved,” she said. “At this point I was locked in, and I wanted to see how far we could go with this program.”

While it is almost impossible to flip through the channels without coming across a reality television show, the cameras were a brand new experience for Ryan. Surprisingly, she said that most of the time she forgot they were even around. The cameras never affected her. She knew that they were documenting something that would be instrumental in helping others.

The importance of Asse’s message goes far beyond one person’s weight loss. Ryan explained that society accepts and facilitates obesity. It is something that can be so easily avoided and prevented with simple, positive lifestyle choices.

In January 2012, Asse and Ryan reached their goal of losing 200 pounds in a one-year period solely by eating a plant-based diet and maintaining a moderate exercise routine. This was accomplished without the aid of any weight-loss drugs or surgery. With Ryan’s transformation, she now participates in activities that were once unthinkable. Not only does she walk upstairs with ease and have the ability to sit in restaurants and theaters without a thought, but she also runs half marathons, climbs mountains, zip lines and runs stadium steps. For the first time in her life, she is not excluded from any activity she chooses. The filming of Asse’s documentary is completed and is in the editing stages. While Ryan has no plans to lose any more weight, she is proud of her strength and confidence and looking forward to a healthy future.

Although Asse is very proud of what he has accomplished with Ryan, his greater goal is to show that anyone can achieve the same results.

“This way of life will prevent and even reverse disease, increase energy levels and lead everyone to their optimal health and weight level,” he said. “Whether one is morbidly obese or already at a healthy weight, the benefits of the plant-based diet are far reaching and can improve everyone’s life.”