Friday, 2 January 2009

From 640 lbs. to 210

Weighing 640 pounds, wearing 10X shirts and with a 70-inch waist, this New Yorker was told by doctors he would likely be dead within 12 months. So he made a plan.

Ernesto Suncar, father of three, underwent gastric bypass surgery - and has shed more than two-thirds of his former self.

"I want people to feel inspired when they look at me," says the Hell's Kitchen resident, who's down to 210 pounds.

The business management student says his body ballooned after he came to the U.S. from his native Dominican Republic at the age 7.

His love of chow didn't help. He would gorge himself on Spanish-style fried pork chops, rice and plantains, McDonald's, pizza and pasta. At his heaviest, the 6-foot-2 food junkie tipped the scales at 640 pounds.

The turning point came when chronic breathing difficulties and the immense strain on his heart threatened to kill him.

"The doctor said, if I carried on as I was, I would be dead in a year," Suncar says. Dr. Elliot Goodman, chief of bariatric surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center, performed the gastric bypass.

There were minor complications, but this winter, after following a nutritious eating plan and increasing his fitness at the gym, Suncar has reached - and maintained - a healthy weight.

"I feel reborn," he says. "These days I can cycle along the Hudson River, play with my kids and this summer, I'm planning on taking a flight. Before, I couldn't have fit in an airline seat."

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