, Salem, MA

November 5, 2012

Incredible shrinking councilor

Peabody's Barry Osborne is sporting a sleek new profile

By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — PEABODY — Before our eyes, City Councilor Barry Osborne is disappearing.

At least there’s 90 pounds less of him than there was a little more than a year ago.

Osborne, 58, explains, “I went to the doctor, and he told me — obviously — ‘You’ve got to lose weight.’ ... The doctor did mention diabetes. ... He said, “You’re going to get older. It’s going to catch up with you.’”

Despite having good results from a battery of medical tests, he recalled family members suffering from diabetes, losing toes as the condition worsened. Worse yet, he recalled that his own father had died at 57 of congestive heart failure.

All this helped steel Osborne’s resolve to finally do something about his weight, which was more than 300 pounds. The veteran councilor set out to do it on his own, with a diet of his own making. And that worked for a time. The pounds fell away. Then politics interfered.

“The election (in 2011) came up,” Osborne notes. “I had to go to this fundraiser. And that fundraiser.” Inevitably, there would be snacks piled on the table. It was difficult to keep track of how much he’d eaten. At one point, he finally climbed on the scale and discovered he’d put back 20 pounds.

Osborne decided he needed a little help. He joined Weight Watchers in Danvers, attending a regular meeting intended for men. He was working out at the YMCA, as well. “They were very supportive there,” he says.

But the techniques he learned in Danvers seemed especially helpful, including two that were crucial.

The first was setting limits. “You can go out at night and have a beer, but you know you have to stop at two.” He realized that meals needed to be planned carefully, sometimes by substituting one food for another.

Second came the acknowledgment that you can’t simply stop eating — “You have to eat.” But with careful planning, you can do it and still lose weight.

“You eat until you’re satisfied,” he says.

After this renewed weight loss campaign, he took off 70 pounds on his way to losing nearly 100.

As he takes his seat in the council chambers, Osborne looks almost svelte. It’s a change others have made note of.

“It’s kind of satisfying,” he says. “And as you have success, you get a little more into it.”

He’s experienced the roller-coaster effect of weight loss before. “I’ve lost about 7,000 pounds,” he jokes. Yet he’s never been as successful as this.

He laughs at the notion that weight loss often means a run for higher office. He passed on the race for mayor in 2011.

The important thing is that he feels better now, though he adds, “I felt pretty good before.”