A Long Island couple appears Tuesday on cooking and lifestyle maven Rachael Ray's namesake syndicated TV show, airing locally on WABC/7 at 2 p.m., to showcase their serious weight loss and current regimen.
Gregg Casarona, 34, who was born and raised in Smithtown and now lives in Centereach, lost 220 pounds over the course of five years, halving his maximum weight. Shayna Mulhall, 26, who was born in Stony Brook and grew up in Ronkonkoma, where she still lives, had hit 193 pounds and shed 50. In the wellness-focused episode, shot on Jan. 22, they meet with Ray and guest co-host Bob Harper from USA's weight-loss competition "The Biggest Loser," and describe their successful dieting strategy.
"I created a weight loss program called Fat-to-Fit Fridays," Casarona tells Newsday, "which was a calorie-tracking diet that gave you a short-term goal of two weeks to maintain a certain calorie limit. And then on that Friday you were allowed to eat whatever you wanted for dinner. Then you had to reduce your total calories by a hundred for the next two weeks. So for my first two weeks, I ate 3,500 calories [daily], I went out to eat dinner on Friday, whatever I wanted, then starting that Saturday, I did two weeks of 3,400 calories."
He repeated the pattern, dropping a hundred daily calories every two weeks, until leveling off at 2,200.
When he and Mulhall began dating roughly two-and-a-half years ago, she took up that diet as well. "It was pretty awesome in making me not want to slip up," she says, "because getting a little bit of a break from being so disciplined allowed me to have a little bit of the things I crave." She found that eventually her nutritional habits changed, and that "when you go to the things you thought you were craving, you realize they don't taste as good as you thought they were going to."
Casarona — who had appeared on TLC's "Sex Sent Me to the ER" in 2013 for a story on how his then 434-pound frame in 2009 had injured his girlfriend at the time — says he works in law enforcement for a state agency. Mulhall is a legal secretary.
"The biggest thing I try to tell people," Casarona advises those struggling with weight, "is that you need to create small goals toward the bigger goal. It's more mental than physical."