Occupation Emergency room doctor
Before 250 pounds, August 2016
After 195 pounds, December 2017
Joe Sciammarella, 63, of Lindenhurst, did an internet search last year that connected him with a hero from his teenage years. That led him to lose weight, get fit and put him on track for a healthy and active lifestyle.
Sciammarella says he was chubby until high school, when he began bodybuilding and started thinning out. He became a fan of professional bodybuilder Frank Zane, a three-time Mr. Olympia, and practiced bodybuilding for about four years. Sciammarella went on to a career as an emergency room doctor.
When Sept. 11 happened, Sciammarella lost two co-workers. He wanted to make an important contribution, so he joined the U.S. Army Reserve as a major in the Medical Corps. To meet the 185-pound weight limit, he lost 30 pounds following low-calorie meal plans and aggressive walking. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq for 10 years, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel.
In 2014, reaching the mandatory separation age of 62, Sciammarella left the reserves. Without an incentive to watch his weight, he ballooned to 250 pounds.
“Last year my wife and I went to Ticonderoga to see a full-scale replica of the ‘Star Trek’ set, which was a lifelong dream. But when I saw pictures of myself [there] I was too embarrassed to show anyone.”
He immediately went on a low-carb, high-protein diet and thought about how trim he had gotten during his high school years.
He Googled his old bodybuilding hero. Zane was 75, living in California and offering two- and three-day programs to assess individuals and build nutrition and exercise programs. Sciammarella did a three-day program and has carefully followed Zane’s program since.
“I feel 100 percent different,” Sciammarella says. “I can go to a clothing store and buy anything. The difference in energy is amazing. A year ago, at 62, it was difficult to bend over to pick something up. Now, at 63, I’m doing bodybuilding next to teenagers. I have such an optimistic feeling and positive self-image.”
Because he works nights, Sciammarella’s eating schedule is atypical. He wakes up at 5 p.m. and has coffee and either yogurt or two poached eggs for breakfast along with an amino acid supplement and a multivitamin. His next meal, at 11 p.m., is a protein shake and another amino acid supplement. Sciammarella hits the gym after his shift ends at 7 a.m. and then heads home to have his main meal of the day, usually six ounces of lean protein like chicken, fish or ground turkey along with an unlimited amount of green vegetables.
Sciammarella follows a three-day schedule of weightlifting and aerobics using free weights and machines. Day one he works on his chest, back and shoulders. Day two focuses on legs and includes aerobics. Day three targets his upper arms and forearms. He rests on day four and starts over the next day.
“Don’t think you’re too old to get in shape. Because you’re a mature person or out of shape don’t assume life is behind you. You don’t have to run a marathon or start bodybuilding. Set short-range goals. Follow a moderate diet and do an activity that hopefully you enjoy.”