HIS STORY Although most think of vegetarianism as a healthy way to eat, Michael Masciale, an ovo-lacto vegetarian, says he found ways to make it unhealthy.
"I was on what I called the O's diet: Fritos, Doritos and Oreos," says Masciale, who has yo-yo dieted -- repeatedly going to the gym and dropping 80 or so pounds, and gaining it all back. "It wasn't just portion sizes, but what I chose to eat. A lot of fake meat products that weren't good for you -- fake bacon, steak, burgers. Also, a lot of bread, butter and pasta."
By the time he reached his top weight, Masciale was depressed, sleepy and grumpy. "I didn't have the other diseases associated with obesity, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but I did have severe sleep apnea," he says. "I also was depressed and wouldn't leave the house. " He turned to gastric sleeve surgery, which removes most of the stomach. "My stomach is the shape and the size of a banana," he says of his April 2012 surgery. He lost the needed weight in about 12 months. "I have learned to eat to live and not live to eat."
DIET As a vegetarian, he has to be especially mindful of getting enough protein. His daytime consumption includes a dozen grapes, then eight cups of tea, an apple and two oranges, a small bag of nuts, raisins, one Greek-style yogurt, one sugar-free Jell-O cup. Dinner is four hard-boiled egg whites. After the gym each day, he has a cup of soup.
After years of living on soda and convenience foods, Masciale cooks nearly all his meals. He makes soup each weekend and stores it in individual serving sizes. He also hard-boils 18 eggs.
"One of the secrets to sticking to a diet," he says, "is to have healthy choices available."
EXERCISE His daily exercise routine is half an hour on the elliptical, then an hour of weightlifting. "That includes holidays and weekends," he adds. "If the gym is not open, I will go for a run."
ADVICE "By preparing things ahead, you can take what you want and walk out of the kitchen," he says.
49, Bay Shore
Occupation: Director of client services for a not-for-profit
388 Weight before April 2012
178 Weight after June 24, 2014