SUCCESS STORY / James Garwacki, 32, of Smyrna

Camila Garwacki, 34, in her before photo taken in September 2020, on left, is photographed with her husband, James Garwacki. Garwacki, 35, in her after photo taken in March 2022 with her husband. (All photos contributed by Camila Garwacki).

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Camila Garwacki, 34, in her before photo taken in September 2020, on left, is photographed with her husband, James Garwacki. Garwacki, 35, in her after photo taken in March 2022 with her husband. (All photos contributed by Camila Garwacki).

‘What you’ve been taught about food for 20, 30 or 40 years may not fit because it becomes a food sensitivity.’

Editor’s note: James Garwacki’s wife, Camila, was featured last week in this column.

When he started: “I started in January 2021,” James Garwacki said.

Age: 32

Personal life: “I live in Smyrna with my wife, Camila,” Garwacki said. He has an occupational therapy practice (https://www.sawdustot.com) where he combines woodworking and special needs. He and his wife also renovate and own rental property, including The Toasted Marshmallow (https://www.instagram.com/thetoastedmarshmallowga), a cabin in Blue Ridge.

The lifestyle change: Garwacki served in the U.S. Air Force. “Coming back from deployment, with all this stress my body was used to and the cycle of deploying and coming back and deploying and coming back, then after that, I went to graduate school and was eating to survive,” Garwacki said. “I would burn 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day, then all of a sudden I got sedentary.” After spending long hours sitting in graduate school classes, followed by late nights spent studying, he wasn’t burning calories the same way. “I began to notice my body was like you can’t do this anymore,” he said. After a neighbor’s success, his wife suggested they go to LockedIN Wellness (https://www.lockedinwellness.com/) and meet with Nancy Masoud, a metabolic specialist. He discovered sensitivities to gluten and dairy. “I would even brew beer and I would look pregnant and think we need to figure this out,” Garwacki said.

Change in eating habits: He meal preps on the weekends, often grilling or smoking chicken for the whole week. “What you’ve been taught for 20, 30, 40 years may not fit, such as not eating dairy or gluten, because it’s a food sensitivity and blows you up,” Garwacki said.

James’ steps to change:

Planning: “I like to be very planned.” He plans and preps his meals in monthly cycles, alternating his proteins so one week is chicken, then steak, then shrimp.

Stick-to-it-ness: “It only takes about two to three weeks to get into the new routine, and then once you get used to it, you have new things to go off of.”

Exercise routine: “I always have an exercise routine. Depending on what I want to do, I have to have a goal. Last year, my goal was to ride the Silver Comet Trail (https://www.silvercometga.com/) from the beginning to the end. I’d go out there every week.”

Biggest challenge: “It’s right now,” Garwacki said. “We bought another cabin that we’re renovating. That is the biggest hurdle. Right now, I’m trying to maintain the best I can.”

James’ tips and strategies:

1. Find out what works for you: “Everyone is going to be different. Just because something works for someone else, it might not work for you.”

2. Set yourself up for the best path: “Don’t go cold turkey — you’re going to fall off the wagon. Instead, slowly decrease your dependency on whatever you’re trying to quit.”

3. Find a balance: “If you have an off day or an off week, don’t make it a pattern and don’t make it a habit.”

4. Compare and despair: “Don’t compare yourself to other people, especially if you have all these things going on. Everyone looks like that on Instagram at 21 but may not when they have a career and kids and a family and houses.”

How has your life changed? “Life has changed because I know now what I can and can’t eat, I know if I eat this or that it may cause me problems,” Garwacki said. “I had moderate-high cholesterol, and when I did my last (test) it was down after six months on the program. Changing physical appearance, that makes you look good and feel good, but it’s also about lowering your blood pressure and co-morbidities.”


Seeking readers’ stories of lifestyle changes: We’re looking for stories about changing health habits. While The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific programs, we include names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. If you would like to share your story of a lifestyle change, please contact reporter Michelle C. Brooks and include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). You can email her directly at: ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.