Extreme weight loss: Diet secrets

Staff - nydailynews.com - 07/27/2011

The bigger the loss, the higher the gain. That's the case for three area success stories, who've shed amazing amounts of weight just in time for the summer.

Whether the key is simply eating healthier and exercising more often, or seeking help from a weight-loss program or going on a non-traditional diet, the three say they not only feel better but have new outlooks on life.

Now, for the first time, they're ready to show the world their hard-earned transformations - and how they did it.

Mark-Eugene Garcia, 31, Woodside, Queens


As an overweight actor, Mark-Eugene Garcia was sick of constantly being cast in the role of the sidekick or the comic relief.

"I wanted to be the main character," he says.

Realizing the only way he would reach his goals was to get into shape, Garcia decided he needed to change his lifestyle.

"I just didn't feel good and didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. I would look at friends who looked skinny and were so carefree," he says. "I was like, 'I want to join, too.'"

So at 220 pounds, he decided he needed extra support to lose his gut and reached out to a local Jenny Craig center.

After seven months of learning about portion control, better eating habits and working out, Garcia reached his goal and was down to 160 pounds.

"It was really about Jenny Craig and the program giving you food. They set you up, and I thought it was magic," he says.

He also says he never missed his daily run of 5-6 miles.

After getting into shape for the first time in his life, Garcia now works for Jenny Craig.

"I love seeing other people see that joy of losing weight because I was there," he says. "I have clients who jump up and down. A lot of people cry. I'm ecstatic for them every time because I know how it feels."

For Side 2 Side, a comedian and actress, fat jokes were her thing.

"It's the first thing you see. So I used it," the upper West Side resident said. "I used to do this one bit where I'd call a really skinny guy to the stage and ask him, 'We look like the number 10, don't we?' But there's a whole lot to be funny about, not just the fact that I'm a 'phat' girl."

She realized that nearly four years ago while living in L.A. After years of taking blood pressure and high cholesterol medication, Side was sick of being an unhealthy 267 pounds.

"I had this dream of being on Broadway doing a one- woman show, but that girl was a size 10 or 12," she says. "I was a size 26 or 28. I even had 30s in my closet."

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