Dropping Lbs.: Lou Panacciulli

Lou Panacciulli, 61, of Franklin Square, had gained

Lou Panacciulli, 61, of Franklin Square, had gained so much weight that he was embarrassed to stand in front of others. This was a real problem since he is a conductor for the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra. With help from Weight Watchers, Panacciulli dropped 50 pounds in a little more than a year. (Credit: Handout ; Thomas A. Ferrara)

Lou Panacciulli

61, Franklin Square

Occupation: Band director at Howell Road School in Valley Stream District 13; conductor and co-founder of the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 211 before March 2011, 160 after May 17, 2012

HIS STORY Following bypass surgery in 2007, Lou Panacciulli, like a good patient, followed his cardiologist's recommendation that he go to a gym.

"I just used exercising as an excuse to eat more," says Panacciulli, who eventually gained so much weight that he disliked looking at himself in the mirror. "I was embarrassed to stand in front of the audience and conduct."

A visit to his sister in Florida in 2011 was the turning point.

"She's a lifetime Weight Watchers member," says Panacciulli, who is married with two adult children, neither of whom is overweight. His sister encouraged him to join. It was overindulgence that caused him to gain weight, Panacciulli says. "I liked to eat, I still do. Back then, I'd walk by a package of cookies and take a couple on the way to the basement. And then, on the way back from the basement, I'd have a few more."

DIET He says the portion control techniques he learned from Weight Watchers are key to his success. "If I know I'm going to go out to dinner, I just eat a little less that day or the day before." He starts the day with whole-grain cereal, orange juice and a piece of fruit. Lunch is often yogurt, coffee and more fruit. He always starts dinner with a big salad, followed by a protein and sides.

EXERCISE He said he goes to the Adult Fitness Program at Adelphi University three times a week. "They have a gym for adults around my age," Panacciulli says of the one-hour class that includes weight training and cardio. "It is run by grad students at the exercise physiology department, so it is like having four personal trainers in the gym with you."

ADVICE He says portion control is vital. "I still eat pizza, just not three slices in one sitting," he says. But, even if you have a day where you eat more than you should, don't panic. "Just do better the next day and the next day."

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