52, Long Beach
Occupation Administrator in higher education
Before 310 pounds, February 2015
After 250 pounds, December 2017
Paul Ragusa-Schweitzer says he was husky as a kid and graduated high school weighing 280 pounds, but he managed to trim down during college. He says by 2012 his 17-year marriage had deteriorated, and he was miserable and gained a lot of weight.
“After splitting up, I moved into a house about a mile from my kids. I’m very into home life and a tremendous cook, and I wanted to maintain a feeling of home and tradition — and that always seemed to involve food. I was always cooking for family and friends, and there was lots of eating going on,” he says.
Ragusa-Schweitzer says he knew there was a part of him, although never explored, that was attracted to men. In the fall of 2014 he decided to find out what makes him happy. He dated both men and women, but he started dating a guy steadily in the spring of 2015.
At the same time, he began walking daily in a park near his home, spending significant time in self-reflection. He also changed his eating habits.
“I didn’t diet, per se, but modified my portion sizes and when I ate my meals. My biggest meal of the day was lunch. And I was strict. If I didn’t have dinner by six, I didn’t have dinner,” says Ragusa-Schweitzer, who didn’t eat again until 10 a.m.
By the time he met Neil Schweitzer, who would become his husband (and was featured in this column Nov. 28), Ragusa-Schweitzer had lost 60 pounds. He has since relaxed his strictly timed eating routine to accommodate a daily four-hour round-trip commute to his job in New Jersey.
“Being myself for the first time, letting go of so much emotional and psychological baggage, and finding true happiness with Neil has helped me sustain the weight loss,” says Ragusa-Schweitzer.
He starts his day with two rice cakes and peanut butter, a banana and coffee. Lunch can be a Greek yogurt with gluten-free granola and a piece of fruit or a scoop of tuna and half an avocado. He snacks on fruits, dates or almonds in the car during his ride home so he doesn’t walk in the door starving. Dinner is usually chicken or fish, brown rice or quinoa and always a vegetable or salad.
He also says that he caters to his gluten allergy by eating foods that are naturally gluten free instead of products that are engineered to be gluten free.
Ragusa-Schweitzer says he doesn’t formally exercise but walks 4,500 to 5,000 steps weekdays around the campus where he works.
“I truly believe that weight is not a physical issue. It’s a psychological and emotional issue. The key to maintaining a healthy weight is self-love and being true to yourself. Surround yourself with positive people and those who make you feel good. If you don’t, you won’t psychologically and emotionally be at your best, and issues will manifest physically.”