Chefs tend not to be the most weight-conscious professionals. "We drink too much, we eat throughout the day, five to six days a week, 12 hours a day – it's very hard to be healthy as a chef," says Mike Isabella, chef and owner of Graffiato in Washington, D.C. That's why the Fit for Hope Challenge, a 12-week weight loss contest involving more than 15 chefs in the Washington, D.C. area, is such a telling feat. The contest, which was created by Isabella as a benefit for the American Cancer Society, ends this Tuesday, September 24 with a final weigh-in and gala that includes food from each of the contestants' restaurants. The leading chefs have come up with recipes, workout regimens, and mental tricks to keep their cravings at bay and shed the pounds. We talked to the current leaders of the contest about their strategies, tips, and how we can all avoid temptation (we included before and after images for a few of them, too).
Original weight: 229 pounds
Current weight: 218 pounds
Total loss: 11 pounds, 4.8 percent body weight loss
Bryan Voltaggio is the executive chef and owner of VOLT, a restaurant set inside a 19th-century, Frederick, Maryland, brownstone mansion that focuses on fresh, local ingredients. Voltaggio was a finalist in season five of Bravo's 'Top Chef' with his brother, Chef Michael Voltaggio, and also competed in season six of 'Top Chef Masters,' the first chef to compete on both shows.
His strategy: Shed in the gym.
"Exercise with my ex-military trainer and diet has been effective."
His vice: Sporadic meals.
"It's actually hard to have breakfast and three square meals to help keep my metabolism revved. On busy days, I used to have my first meal at 2 pm or 3 pm. As for the food in my restaurants, I work the line almost every night and take small tastes to make sure the flavors are there."
His health food: Vegetables.
"My go-to weight-loss meal is a fresh salad or vegetables with protein such as fish."