ABC Contributor Shares Her Life-Changing Words With Einstein Healthcare Network

Tory Johnson had a choice to make: lose weight or lose her job.
Granted, the decision wasn’t so forcefully cast upon her — her TV boss gently suggested that “you don’t look your best, I want to send you to a stylist” — but Johnson reached a point in her life where she accepted change.
“I realized no matter what clothes I wear, I need to lose weight,” said Johnson, a contributor for ABC’s Good Morning America. “She was being nice, and I recognized that. The only solution that can come is not from a stylist but from me.”
And after a year, that shift was the best choice for her.
Johnson later documented her 62-pound weight loss in her book The Shift, which prompted her keynote address for the Great Thinkers Series last week as part of Einstein Healthcare Network’s celebration of its 150th year.
This talk, titled “Conversations: Words That Can Change Lives,” at the National Museum of American Jewish History, focused on conversations and how we communicate.
Other speakers and panelists included Ronnie Polaneczky, Philadelphia Daily News columnist; Jenice Armstrong, pop culture critic and Philadelphia Daily News columnist; Janet Ko, M.D., assistant program director of the Einstein OB/GYN Residency Program; Ann Whitehouse, Psy.D., Einstein bariatric program psychologist; and Douglas McGee, D.O., Einstein chief academic officer.
Johnson, who is well known for her money-saving, bargain-finding “Deals and Steals” segment, shared her story of how that one subtle conversation changed her life for the better.
She recalled one of her earliest memories was eating a Happy Meal with her mother at McDonald’s where she learned she’d become a big sister. At her wedding, she wore a navy suit instead of a white wedding dress because she didn’t want to look like a “giant marshmallow.” She even admitted to herself that she hadn’t been to the doctor in 10 years.
She used to think “whatever happens on the road stays on the road,” but discovered “what happens on the road stays on your ass.”
But she stopped making excuses and gave in to change.
She didn’t count calories or follow a diet points program. She just made good choices, ate less and moved more.
And for her, that didn’t include cheat days.
“For me, rewarding healthy eating with a cheat day is akin to an alcoholic celebrating a month of sobriety with a beer,” she said.
In The Shift, Johnson outlined her five steps to “shifting” toward success for any type of personal or professional change: Figure out how fed up you are that you’re willing to make a change, decide what you’re willing to give up to make that change, make a clear and concise plan, be accountable for your changes, and develop patience and celebrate little successes.
Although the change came in small, gradual steps over a year, her 62-pound success — or as her son joked, the equivalent of two of their family beagle, Marley — was worth it, she said.
Johnson still looks back on that first conversation, not exactly sure what motivated her.
“I think that she told me what I needed to hear at the time that I needed to hear it, and I was somehow ready to hear. And I don’t know if the same conversation a year earlier, 10 years earlier, would have made the same difference, but she came to me with a problem and a solution.”
Successes showed up in other forms for Johnson, too.
She incorporated a treadmill desk at work. She wore her first white dress ever on Good Morning America, which shocked her 17-year-old daughter, who had never seen her mother wear any dress before.
And in the spirit of reinvesting in self-care, she returned to the doctor.
“I was probably the only patient who ever went into the office like, ‘Do every test on me, I’m so excited to be here!’”
Even with Jewish holidays approaching, Johnson said she won’t falter.
But one thing she does miss from holiday tables: matzah.
“It’s the one thing that everyone in my house eats … with different concoctions that they put on their matzah, and it’s the most delicious. But it’s the one thing I won’t do because I have memories of having a piece of matzah, and then a box of matzah, and I’m just not going to go there. So I’ll have an extra piece of brisket instead,” she laughed.
But throughout this whole process, Johnson made it clear that she is still “a work in progress. There’s no end date, there’s no finish line. It’s just sort of like every day counts.”
“The past doesn’t have to dictate the future. If you want to change something about yourself, you can do it. It’s not easy — changing is hard. But it’s doable and you’re worth it. Too often we give up because we want an instant fix. And when that doesn’t happen fast enough, we just give up. … You’re worth giving yourself the benefit and beauty of time to make a change.”
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0737


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here