Who: Leonard Rivera, 38
Occupation: Lawyer, ex-fire chief, current volunteer firefighter
Weight before: 193 (May 2007)
Weight after: 140 (April 2009)
His story: As a former fire chief of the Garden City Fire Department, Leonard Rivera knew his weight and fitness level were not ideal. "The rigors of firefighting are extremely demanding and, frankly, I was having tremendous difficulty," he said. Taking the elevator is not an option for firefighters responding to a seventh-floor apartment fire. "That was brutal," he said.
Rivera, a civil litigation attorney based in Garden City, wasn't feeling too vital in the office, either. Just looking at a StairMaster machine was almost enough to make him break a sweat, he said. During his lunch break, Rivera, like all his co-workers, ordered a big hero coated in mayo, with chips. Instead of energizing him for the rest of his workday, the food would drag him into a "food coma" at his desk.
Today, the ex-chief is a fitter and happier firefighter. "I can scale ladders, pull hoses and climb stairs with all my equipment on, with less fatigue," Rivera said.
What he eats: With encouragement from his wife, Rivera joined Weight Watchers in May 2007. He stopped skipping breakfast and now has high-fiber oatmeal with blueberries. Sushi is his new favorite lunch. For dinner he stopped eating so much beef, opting for leaner chicken and fish.
His advice: Rivera lost the weight (and the weight didn't find him again) by shedding pounds slowly and deliberately, in addition to keeping active five days a week. "I realized weight loss is more than just going on a fad diet, thinking you are going to eat salads and drink water all day," he said.