Personal Best: Linda Cuang

Ralph Barbato instructs Linda Cuang at Intoxx Fitness in Tottenville. Barbato, a personal trainer, helped Ms. Cuang lose 100 pounds in 10 months. (Staten Island Advance/Tevah Platt)


Hard work does pay off. Just ask Linda Cuang.

Battling a health condition, feeling hopeless and wondering if there was anything else she could do about being significantly overweight, Ms. Cuang took a major step to change her life.

Weighing over 260 pounds, Ms. Cuang, a 40-year-old Huguenot mother of four, met with Ralph Barbato, a head fitness director at a South Shore gym. Barbato, of Intoxx Fitness in Tottenville, was a perfect fit, as he knew first-hand how Ms. Cuang felt.

He had previously lost over 100 pounds on two separate occasions. He knew exactly how to work with Ms. Cuang, as long as she was willing. "She was 266 pounds," he said. "I could tell that she was hurting on the inside."

When they first met, Ms. Cuang told Barbato she wanted to lose 60 pounds. "A lot of people love the concept of losing weight, but a lot of hard work goes into it. You know who's for real and not for real," said Barbato, noting that he once helped a man in Bayonne lose over 150 pounds.

Ms. Cuang stuck with a training regimen that included working out five times a week and completely revamping how she ate. "Nutrition is about 60 to 70 percent, and the rest is exercise," according to Barbato. "We started working out and it went from there," said Ms. Cuang. "As I started seeing the results, it was easier and easier. It gave me more motivation (to keep at it)." By July, after 10 months of training, Ms. Cuang reached her limit - and beyond - by losing not just 60 pounds, but 100. "It gives me a lot of confidence, in ways you couldn't imagine," she said.

When asked what advice she has for folks looking to shed weight, she said it's best to start small, and everything else will eventually fall into place. "When I started feeling healthier with exercise, that prompted me to want to eat better, to be healthier on the outside and on the inside," Ms. Cuang said.

Barbato said Ms. Cuang is a perfect role model for others trying to lose weight, because she wasn't sure what to do at first. Once she figured it out, however, she stuck with the plan and achieved her goal, and more. People need to stay on top of their physical condition early in life, because it's harder to erase being overweight as a person gets older, Barbato cautioned.

"Stay active. Stay off the computer, stay off the video games," he said, referring to younger people.
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