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Paul Zent: 'You can't lose weight ... without making a commitment'

Paul Zent of Floral Park lost 42 pounds

Paul Zent of Floral Park lost 42 pounds after changing his lifestyle. Photo Credit: composite

Who: Paul Zent, 54

Town: Floral Park
Occupation: Superintendent, New York City Transit

Weight before: 272 (May 2010)
Weight after: 230 (Oct. 2010)

His story: Paul Zent says he always had a weight problem. "I was a heavy child from a heavy family. When I was younger, it didn't bother me so much - I was just a big guy." But as he got older, he had health issues and some back problems. "And I had to get serious, but it was an uphill battle. I was on and off diets all the time." Zent says losing weight has made a real difference. It is easier for him to climb stairs and walk any distance.

His diet: Zent says he does not like to call his eating behavior a diet but a change in lifestyle. "I've given up most carbohydrates; I don't eat glutens or sugar [very much]. I miss pastas, but there are replacements. My wife makes spaghetti squash, and I have that with sauce. I eat a lot of chicken and beef, but if there's something I really want to have - a cookie - I'll have it. If my wife and I are on vacation, and she has a dessert, I might have a forkful, which is enough to satisfy my cravings."

His lunch: Zent eats some chicken breast, coleslaw, fruit, maybe grilled vegetables. "I cut out sugary sodas - it's diet or water. I'm a Diet Coke drinker. The toughest thing for me is coffee: I like my coffee sweet, and I haven't been able to find a sweetener I like. I have sugar, but I've cut my coffee intake."

His advice: "You can't lose weight without wanting to - without making a commitment. It has to be something you want to do. One of the hardest things for me is watching TV - all the food commercials, from hamburgers to cookies to pizza. So I try to watch TV without commercials."

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