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My Fitness Pal app helps Manhasset man lose 52 pounds

Robert Tomei, 57, of Manhasset, is pictured in

Robert Tomei, 57, of Manhasset, is pictured in December 2009, when he weighed about 192 pounds, and in a more recent photo, showing off his 52-pound weight loss. Credit: Joanne Russo

Robert Tomei

57, Manhasset

Occupation Divisional president for a data and technology company

Height 5-foot-6

Before 192 pounds, January 2009

Current 140 pounds, April 2016

His story

Robert Tomei says the few times in high school he was fit were the exception and not the rule. A weight challenge dogged him most of his life, he says. Fast forward to a 2009 Costa Rica vacation when he and a group went zip lining. Gravity prevailed during one of the flights and Tomei had to pull himself, hand over hand, to get to the platform. “I was a mess and sweating, shaking and embarrassed, especially with 20 other people there who all did OK.”

When he got home, he joined a gym and started working out but didn’t modify his eating habits. He sustained a minimal weight loss for a long time until his trainer suggested he try My Fitness Pal, a smartphone app. Tomei started tracking everything he ate. After a 5,000-calorie day, he knew changes were necessary.

“I started to cut back on portions and brought my net calories down to 1,600 — net meaning getting credit for calories burned working out,” he said. He increased the intensity of his workouts and reached his goal weight of 140 pounds a year ago. “I’m not on any particular diet. I eat everything, but in much smaller portions,” he says. “I feel a lot healthier and am much more active. My energy level and outlook are so much better,” he adds.

His diet

Breakfast is coffee and an English muffin with butter and jam. Lunch typically is a turkey-and-cheese whole-wheat wrap, coffee and carrots or celery (he’ll eat only a half wrap if he’s eating out because restaurant wraps are usually oversized). For dinner, if dining out, he orders fish with grilled vegetables, sometimes a double vegetable order and no starch. At home he’ll have chicken or fish with vegetables and a salad. He treats himself to three Ghirardelli or Dove chocolate squares, 30 calories each.

His exercise

Tomei uses a personal trainer for toning and does weights and calisthenics. He spins and plays tennis once a week and does aerobic exercises the rest of the week.

His advice

“Be aware of how much you’re eating. People assume, like I did for 50 years, because you’re eating something healthy, you can eat a lot of it. But 15 almonds are 170 calories and 18 small unsalted pretzels are 110 calories. To me, the biggest thing that made a difference was understanding what I was eating and how many calories were involved.”