How to Lose 100 Pounds Eating Cheesesteaks

Staff - menshealth.com - 02/07/2012
Weight Loss Tips

Being surrounded by cheesesteaks all day isn’t easy—losing 122 pounds in a year while being surrounded by cheesesteaks? Even harder. But Tony Luke—CEO of Philly’s renowned Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak stores—managed to do it.

In February 2011, too fat to get out of his own bed, he worked himself into a sweat as he swung his arms for momentum to get up. Then he looked at all 365 pounds of himself in the mirror and thought: How did this happen?

“I was disgusting,” he says, his Philly accent thicker than the cheese wiz slobbered onto his sandwiches. “But I knew I did it to myself.”

So how did the chief exec of a Philly cheesesteak staple drop pounds while manning his fast-food empire? Here are his tips.

Downsize Your Portions

Luke recruited weight-loss expert Matthew Pinto, D.O., to help. Step one: Understand reasonable portion sizes—not an easy thing to teach a guy who inhaled three cheesesteaks for lunch. “A typical breakfast was a pound of salmon, 20 egg whites, two pieces of whole grain bread, and a half-cup of olive oil,” Luke says. “Doc was like, ‘Tony, it doesn’t work like that.’ ”

Eat What You Like—Just Not Every Day

Luke learned quickly that dieting didn’t mean just leafy greens. You have to enjoy yourself. “Diets don’t work because they restrict you from eating foods you love,” he says. “I still eat cheesesteaks. I love cheesesteaks. But I don’t eat a cheesesteak every day.” His typical breakfast now? Four egg whites and chicken.

As the pounds came off, Luke posted to Twitter ( at TonyLukeJr—he has more than 2,300 followers) and Facebook sharing struggles and helping others with theirs. Today I really didn’t want to work out—these are the moments when we have to push through, he recently tweeted. “It takes a lot of balls to lose more than 100 pounds. The sweat in the gym, lifting those weights—if that ain’t tough, then I don’t know what is,” he says.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Before dropping pounds, Luke shunned those who looked down on him because of his weight—that was their problem, not his. Now? He’s adding a healthy mantra to his menu, offering smaller portion sizes. “We choose what we eat. I take responsibility and I refuse—absolutely refuse—to let anyone put me in a box,” he says.

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