PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Like any worth-his-salt Philadelphian, Officer Juan Ace Delgado likes cheesesteaks. A lot. And like many Philadelphians, years of savoring those deliciously greasy, cheesy, meaty sandwiches have taken their toll.
day I was patrolling in my vehicle with my tie on and the collar buttoned, and it was so tight around my neck I felt like I was choking — and it was a 19-1/2-inch collar, so I couldnt go any bigger, Delgado said. It made me really frustrated, and I just said OK, thats it. Its time to lose this weight.
In April, Delgado joined an estimated 20,000 people taking up Mayor John F. Streets challenge to the citys portly populace to trim the fat.
The city teamed up with the Philadelphia 76ers to kick off a76 Tons of Fun campaign, highlighting 10 lifestyle changes for losing weight and giving participants charts to track their progress. Health clubs offered discounts, businesses sponsored lunch-hour workouts and restaurants are presenting leaner dishes.
The final weigh-in is scheduled for Tuesday.
Delgado, 38, once weighed 212 pounds. Today, he carries 148 pounds on his 5-foot-6 frame. He exercises two hours a day, five days a week at the Police Academy gym, says he feels great and has persuaded a dozen other officers to join him — most losing 10 to 30 pounds.
The guys see Ive done it and they see they can do it. Im a big motivator, said Delgado.
Chef Joseph Shilling, director of the School of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, is working with more than a dozen restaurants to offer healthier menu choices. Hes also losing weight: the 6-foot chef has dropped from 243 pounds to 222 pounds since starting the76 Tons challenge in April. Sixteen years ago, he weighed more than 500 pounds.
We began to look at quantities of food, quantities of carbohydrates and saturated fats and reducing them, he said. I think its great that we have been able to demonstrate to people that you can still eat great and eat healthy.
The mayors quest was spurred by a 1999 Mens Fitness magazine article that rated Philadelphia the fattest city in the nation, based on a comparison of the cities athletic resources and numbers of takeout and fast-food outlets. Street — an avid runner, bicyclist and health-food fan — established an Office of Health and Fitness to oversee his Fun, Fit & Free program.
The 57-year-old mayor — who as a young man weighed around 250 pounds but now is down to about 190 — touted lowfat fare to a city whose staples include cream-filled Tastykakes; cheesesteaks, the sandwich of thinly sliced, grilled beef soaked with melted cheddar cheese; and scrapple, a deep-fried loaf made of pork parts better left unidentified.
One-third of our population has hypertension, a growing number have adult-onset diabetes, and were spending millions of dollars on health care and its growing, said Streets spokeswoman, Luz Cardenas. Its a public health problem. And if were improving our neighborhoods and our schools we want to have healthy Philadelphians to enjoy it.
In the meantime, Philadelphia has been bumped off the top of the Mens Fitness fattest cities list by Houston, which has sent representatives to see Philadelphias slim-down project.
It helped give our people some really good ideas, said Corey Ray, spokesman for Houston Mayor Lee Brown. We hope to have a similar plan in the near future.
Along with exercise, Delgado is adjusting his food habits.
Now, if I want a cheesesteak, I have half, he said. And I skip the cheese.
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