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The Nation

Brooklyn Dieter's Public Loss Is Gain

June 19, 2002|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — The results are in: Marty Markowitz, the admittedly hefty Brooklyn borough president who put himself and 2.5 million other area residents on a diet eight weeks ago, has lost 11 pounds.

Svelte he is not. But still, the 5-foot-5 Markowitz, who tipped the scales at 194 pounds when he started his well-publicized effort to shed girth, is down to 183.

"He is a 57-year-old man who wants to be around as long as he can," spokesman Andrew Ross said Tuesday.

Ross said that Markowitz, whose father was a waiter in a delicatessen, has confessed that eating is one of his favorite things in the world.

"Hopefully, he will continue to eat sensibly and continue to try to exercise," Ross said. "He is trying to change his lifestyle."

Markowitz turned his official diet, which ended over the weekend, into a public happening.

He first invited people to join him in shedding pounds when he learned that Brooklyn led the rest of New York City in deaths from cardiovascular disease. The borough president asked constituents to walk to work with him and to jog alongside him in public parks on the weekends. Exercise equipment was set up for members of his staff at Brooklyn's Borough Hall.

The "Lighten Up Brooklyn" campaign established weigh-in stations in 150 churches, drugstores, hospitals, gyms and recreational centers, where dieters could measure their progress.

More than 7,000 people recorded their weights during the eight-week campaign. After the results are compiled, the neighborhood that has shed the most pounds will receive recognition on national television later this month.

For the last two months, Markowitz has stressed that his effort was a marathon, not a crash-diet sprint.

He also confessed to having hunger pangs in the middle of the night for his favorite foods: cheesecake and bread. He says he resisted the temptation.

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