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: 326 pounds
Current weight: 261 pounds
Total loss: 65 pounds, 19.9 percent body weight loss
Will Artley, executive chef at Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church, Virginia, was a world-traveling military brat, exposed to a wide range of cuisines from an early age. Before taking over at Pizzeria Orso, Artley went to Los Angeles to study under Peppe Miele to receive his certification in baking authentic Neapolitan pizzas. In February, 2008, Artley was selected as one of eight chefs to participate in the White House Guest Chef Program, where he prepared a coursed luncheon for 80 cabinet members and commissioned officers.
His strategy: Life balance.
"It's an overall lifestyle change and a better balance of life. I've only eliminated processed foods. My workout dictates what I'm going to eat."
His vice: Diet is a four-letter word.
"I don't believe in any word that [includes] the word "die.""
His health food: Juice.
"I do a ton of juicing. Didn't think I would ever say that, but I crave it now."