WeissCrax: The real ‘skinny’

“Medium,” came with the biggest smile.

In years past, “super size” would have been the only choice.

But just before Thanksgiving 2008, an epiphany of sorts and a near-total life change…

And now today – a new first!

Along with his 15-year-old son Joseph, Gerard Fontes, 47, is running in his inaugural 5K race — The October Classic — a fundraiser for the Ojai Valley Community Hospital.

Gerard Fontes ran his first 5k race at The October Classic.

“I used to be a Triple X,” sez the elder Fontes of his shirt size, while at the registration table.

“That’s what happens when you weigh 376 pounds!” he added with a chuckle.

Now tipping the scales at a svelte 212, Fontes is, literally & figuratively, a new man … with new routines … new healthy habits … new exercises … new perspective.

And yes, if you do the math, 164 less pounds is the equivalent of losing “a whole ‘nother human”…


Fontes’ (pronounced fonts) turning point was the abrupt end of his marriage. The coping options were simple. Basically two. One healthy. The other — stepping on the gastronomic gas pedal.

“My wife didn’t leave me for another obese man,” he said, “It was time to face reality.”

This call-to-action started with a visit to Dr. Carolyn Murphy, his personal physician. Within a few days, Fontes was committed to Sansum Clinic’s Doctor’s Weight Management Program.

“My former life centered on caring for everyone around me and food. I totally bought into The Program from Day One, as it took all decision-making out of my hands — exactly what I needed,” he admits.

Hamburgers and tacos and other fast food options were replaced by a steady stream of healthy shakes and packaged low-calorie entrees.

Immediately, the weight shed quickly – 23 pounds in the first month (over the December holidays) and 80 in the first eight months.

And he was just getting warmed up!!

“Since there were on-going reporting classes, you had to be ‘fully accountable’ – I liked that, too!” he said.

Exercise is another important program component and Fontes already, painfully, knew the amount of inertia required to get a near 400-pound frame in locomotion.

But he had a plan and a somewhat eager partner …

“I told Joseph I would buy him a treat if he rode his bike with me to the store, less than a couple of miles away.  It was quite a feat for me but we did it,” Papa Bear Fontes said.

And so began a great new father-son partnership with plenty of bonding and healthy escapades.

Today’s 5K race is another new experience and much like ‘the tortoise and the hare’ story….

Joseph starts fast and is soon gasping for air and searching for water, while Pops chugs along at an 11-minute-plus mile steady clip, basking in the warm early morning sun along Ojai’s beautiful back country roads.

While running along side, he shares with this sports journalist that he and Joseph sometimes bike to Ojai from their Oxnard home but running is new for both. Especially with runner bibs and a timed finished.

“We’re really into biking. I bike everyday at lunch with a colleague,” sez Fontes, who works in Information Technology Services for Santa Barbara Bank & Trust in Goleta.

“Saturdays are longer rides. Sometimes Camarillo to my brother’s restaurant where I’ve taught them to make my specialty shakes and Joseph can have a normal breakfast.”

Gerard, right, at 376 pounds

Gerard, now weighing 212 pounds, with his son, Joseph.

It’s important time together in and around his hometown — and different from growing up there in The ‘Nard during the 1960s and ‘70s…

“My Mom was obese and one of my brothers has had this same tendency, like me. My oldest son, Jeremy (age 20 and attending William Penn University in Iowa) is a big guy who played football and who also has a propensity for density, as I call it. But, he’s totally buffed now,” Fontes said proudly.

A 2010 summer milestone was Jeremy eagerly serving as his Dad’s personal trainer.  Bike rides. Gold’s Gym workouts.  Three Fontes Boyz (Joseph, Jeremy & Pops) savored fun athletic competitions, complete with good-natured trash-talking on their bike races.

“Since he’s my wingman, Joseph is a great biker and he took special delight in beating his older brother in our first Tour de Breakfast. Jeremy claims to be ‘a footballer and not a biker,’ Fontes laughs.

“Everything I do now to care for myself is all about my sons and being able to ride,” he added in a more serious tone.

And Joseph chimes in…

“Ya’know, I never saw my dad as a fat guy but I’m sure proud of him.  In fact, he’s now the healthiest dad among all my friends’ fathers!”

“Let’s face it. I went from an embarrassment for the kids to being someone they admire – it’s been ‘quite a ride’ so-to-speak,” Fontes said, and who was quick to say he’s not quite done yet.

“My ultimate weight goal is within my sights at 190.”

And losing so much weight, obviously, doesn’t happen over-night.

Gerard has become an avid biker.

“There is no magic bullet … no magic pill … it’s all hard work and diet,” sez Fontes, who weighed as much as 465 pounds in the late 1990s.

Gastric bypass surgery in 2000 provided only temporary results. This time around, he set short-term goals along the way and incentives for his weight-reduction milestones.

Finally at 215 – The Grand Prize!  He treated himself to a $2,600 Fugi bike – its ultra-light carbon frame is now like him – built for speed.

Both (Fontes & Fugi) are getting considerable road experience on long rides – a la the Solvang Prelude (50 mile day ride with Joseph)… Solvang Century (100 miles) … and Tour de Cure (metric century ride in Long Beach).

Fontes has some invaluable tips for those considering a new healthy regimen – like including your spouse and kids into your program … believing in yourself … and don’t give up.

There are many benefits to his current lifestyle and, especially one in which he is most proud – Joseph reads labels and is conscious about everything he puts into his mouth.

“I wish I had done that when I was a kid. But I do it now and will for the rest of my life,” he offered.

And now, almost two years ‘down the road’ some more good news.

According to Fontes…

“My last health risk profile about six-months ago showed a 90% improvement in my overall health. I’d like to get that up even higher by the time I’m done.  It’s the best investment I ever made. For myself and for my family. We all get to enjoy the dividends every day … plus, I’m having the time of my life!”

That’s the “real skinny” on a real skinny guy…

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Click here to read Fontes’ in-depth, fun “no holds barred” interview with Presidiosports.com’s very own                                ‘60 Minutes’ Wannabee News Journalist!!

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WeissCrax  Randy Weiss       Special to Presidiosport.com           October 4, 2010


  1. Trinafontes says

    Good job Gerard! I know it has been a long road for you and many lessons to be learned along the way but you have finally have focused on what is important. You always must take care of yourself first before you are able to take care of others.. Trina… One of the ex wives and proud of what you have accomplished which is a good learning lesson for our children!

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