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).
Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley
Original weight: 222.8 pounds
Current weight: 207 pounds
Total loss: 15.8 pounds, 7.1 percent body weight loss
In March 2013, Marjorie Meek-Bradley, a California native, became executive chef at Washington, D.C.'s Ripple, where she features dishes such as potato gnocchi with lamb ragu, pickled elderberries, and ricotta salata and pan roasted scallops with Andouille sausage and potato purée. Meek-Bradley was a nominee for Rising Culinary Star of the year by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington for the 2013 RAMMY Awards.
Her strategy: Moderation and coffee.
"I am treating this as a lifestyle change, so it isn't about losing the most weight in three months; it's about a year from now. Oh, and coffee, lots of coffee."
Her vice: Willpower.
"Saying no is definitely the hardest part. I am a chef for a reason. I love food. I find that it is not about saying no; it is about saying yes less often. I plan my week to allow myself meals that I enjoy; however, they are moderate portions and on days that I have had vigorous workouts."
Her health food: Cottage cheese and fruit.
"One of my best go-to meals is cottage cheese with pepper and a piece of fruit with a large iced tea. It is satisfying and I can eat it while I am planning out the rest of my day. It is a great post-gym lunch."