John Valente, 52, Brookhaven
Occupation: Director of physical education and athletics at Harborfields Central School District
Before 310 April 2018 After 214 January 2019
John Valente says his family history of diabetes, high blood pressure and high triglycerides worried him throughout his adulthood.
“As years passed, the fears became reality. I became pre-diabetic, my BMI was way off and I developed sleep apnea. It was a volatile mix of health concerns and they became more pronounced in [early] 2018,” says Valente.
“Being a food addict, I basically lived to eat and would finish one meal and start thinking about the next. And I always ate more than I should. I would feel uncomfortable and then be disappointed in myself,” Valente says.
A lifelong dieter, he says he tried “everything on the market” like Weight Watchers, Isagenix and “the liquid ones.” He says he had success but only temporarily.
After he attended a walk-in session at Mather Hospital Bariatric Center, he made the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery. The process was easier than expected, he says. Post-surgery, he consumed only liquids for two weeks, then “mushy” food and after a month was eating regular food, but controlled portions with an emphasis on protein.
Valente says he’s lost 96 pounds. “My waist is now 36 inches, down from 44, and my blood levels are in normal ranges. No more medications. I’m just feeling alive and have a bounce to my step. And I handle stress much better,” says Valente.
Breakfast can be a two-egg omelet with mushrooms, asparagus and some cheese. A low-carb turkey wrap with lettuce suffices for lunch. Dinner is usually a protein such as fish, chicken or pork, a small portion of vegetables, and a grain such as quinoa or farro. Valente snacks on low-fat Chobani yogurt with blueberries, hummus with raw carrots, a protein bar or a protein shake.
“I weight train for an hour three to four times a week. I also do HIIT training [high-intensity interval training, a series of rapidly done exercises]. I do cardio work on a treadmill and an elliptical about three to four times a week for an hour and 20 minutes,” says Valente.
“You, and you alone, have to make the decision. I always say the surgery is only a tool . . . It’s not the silver bullet. You have to work the program. . . . It doesn’t matter how big your house is or how expensive your car is, we’re nothing without our health. . . . And a good support team is so important. My wife is my biggest supporter.”