What’s to credit for the great Staten Island weight loss? | Pamela’s Food Service Diary

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — For every COVID-19 “I-packed-on-19-or-so-pounds” story there’s a dramatic counterpoint. It’s fascinating to hear about the inspired journeys to various goals and to follow the quests of Staten Islanders like John Perry of Livingston, who lost a remarkable 89 pounds since last October.

Sall Troia

Sal Troia lost over 60 pounds. His drink of choice is water throughout the day. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

Then there’s Sal Troia’s commitment to personal wellness. A super fan of the series WKRP in Cincinnati and also a serious food lover, Sal is a colleague at the Staten Island Advance. Now down 60 pounds since March, 2020, he’s disciplined about portion control and enjoys more protein in his meals. Water is his beverage of choice. But he said the biggest boon to his slimmer waistline has been what’s missing in our 14-month absence from 950 Fingerboard Road — temptations from birthday cake and communal snacks which once enticed him to visit munch spots around the building.


A quick “magnesium soup:” Boil carrots, onions, and Russet potatoes for 30 minutes. Discard veggies. The broth supplies energy to the body, says wellness coach Loria Trapp. (Courtesy of Anthony Abercrombie)


Kevin J. Dabulis of New Springville detailed his enlightened trek to better health. After struggling with weight for years and, as he says, “at the point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he was spurred to a lifestyle change after seeing himself in a photo..

“When you wear stretchy pants and oversized shirts you don’t notice what’s really happening under it. My body ached. I was diagnosed with arthritis in my knees and hip and had sciatica. My cholesterol and blood sugar and blood pressure were dangerously high. I felt bloated all the time and had no energy,” he admitted. Dabulis realized that if he wanted to be around for his family, see his son graduate from college and raise a family of his own he had to take a new tack.“

Sadly, it took all of this to make me realize that I was killing myself,” Dabulis said. So the first thing he did was to cut out junk food, fried stuff and knock out most carbohydrates from his meals.

“The hardest thing I had to do was give up something I was addicted to — sugar. That’s the most important thing you can do for yourself,” said Dabulis. Then, he figured an education in nutrition would be a good next step. He sought out an expert to help and found Jodie Foster, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and certified personal trainer at Ultimate Fitness and Wellness, a business within walking distance of Dabulis’ house.

“It was in mid-July that we discussed my weight and body composition goals, and she took my measurements, BMI, and came up with an actionable plan to help guide me to those results,” he said. Foster’s meal prep ideas didn’t make him feel like he was dieting.

Now, there are no more afternoon naps from fatigue. He wakes feeling refreshed in the morning.

“One of the things that Jodie stressed the most was that building muscle burns fat,” he explained. He supplemented the eating regimen with resistance band training.

The upshot: Dabulis’ 40-inch waist has been winnowed to a current 32-inches. “When I was 25 years old and fit, I wore a size 40 suit. I’m on my way to that goal as I’m fitting a 43 a the moment. Jodie gives you more than information, she gave me inspiration. I can’t thank her enough,” said Dabulis.

Loria Raiola

Wellness educator Loria Trapp says to strike a balance in life and sometimes it’s OK to indulge in a piece of birthday cake. (Courtesy of Anthony Abercrombie)

Loria Trapp, a yogi, wellness educator and trained psychotherapist, said, “The key to weight loss is maintaining balance. I wouldn’t deprive myself of a piece of cake at a birthday party! We need to restore joy back into our eating!”

She outlined tips for long-term maintenance: “Eat a raw salad every day. Commit to an exercise program that you love — yoga, race-walking, dancing, calisthenics, etc and — drum roll please — learn to cook two healthy soups and make them regularly. You can make a big pot and freeze. Lentil and chicken are my two go-to choices!”

But sometimes it’s more than just the diet.

Weight loss

John Perry’s meals are typically about 500 calories each. He also snacks at regular points in the day — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

To revisit Perry’s ride to a slenderized state in a nutshell: He controlled his portions and dialed back calories per meal. He snacks at regimented times — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — and kept carbs at bay. And the guy nicknamed Johnny “Mass” — that’s a nod to his Massachusetts roots and job prepping for the masses at Sacred Heart R.C. Church in West Brighton — ultimately credits the Holy Spirit for his inspiration to stay on the path to long-term wellness.


An inspirational message at Sacred Heart (Staten Island Advance/Pamela SIlvestri)Pamela Silvestri

That said, we’ll end this Sunday note with a food joke, courtesy of James Perrone,who is Perry’s colleague at the rectory and church — although it’s best delivered by Perrone himself. But here goes some calorie-free corn.


Three eggs, three pieces of toast and two strips of bacon walk into a pub. The bartender looks at them and slams his hand down on the bar. He says, “I told you people before and I’m not going to tell you again…we don’t serve breakfast here!”

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at silvestri@saidvance.com.

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