STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Like many Staten Islanders, Rosebank resident Tina Barone, 40, grew up in an Italian-American household.
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“Everything was centered around food,” said Barone, who has been married to her husband, Ed, for 11 years. “Food meant love, gatherings and family time. I loved to eat, I still do.
“I never thought there was anything wrong with being ‘chubby’ because most of my family carried extra pounds. I was a kid. I was happy and my family loved me for me.”
However, Barone, a teacher, remembers that the extra weight started to affect her when she entered junior high and began to get taunted by her peers.
“I was called awful names like ‘Free Willy,’ ‘fat a–.’ The name calling was endless.
“Kids in high school were just as cruel; they threw food at me. And even into adulthood, much of the same treatment occurred. But, the more I was teased, the more I ate. I was stuffing down my feelings with food.”
At that point, Barone weighed about 320 pounds.
Barone decided to embark upon her weight-loss battle. She tried Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, over-the-counter diet pills, Atkins, starvation methods, Deal A Meal, a nutritionist, exercise programs.
“I even went for countless tests by different doctors to see if there was something to explain my inability to lose weight,” she said.
“I did all of these things in an attempt to feel normal and accepted by society and my peers, even to possibly attract the opposite sex.
“For years, it was an endless cycle of trial and failure and, as a result, I would fall right back into my old eating habits.”
Fast forward to 2011.
Barone weighed 378 pounds when her mother offered to treat her to Weight Watchers as a gift, so that they could do the weight-loss program together.
Barone happily accepted.
She lost 40 pounds in less than 12 months. Unfortunately, just as in past attempts, she would yo-yo her weight, gaining and losing weight, repeating the same cycle of “try and fail.”
Barone managed to keep off 34 pounds, but after an unsuccessful stint with a nutritionist and doing hot yoga for a few months, she reached what she called her breaking point.
“I wasn’t able to do the things I loved anymore,” she said. “I’m an actress/singer and it was becoming increasingly difficult to land roles, to dance at auditions and to have the stamina to make it through a song. “
This content was originally published here.