McCandless man gets active, watches diet, drops about 100 pounds

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Joe Valenza, 40, of McCandless lost 100 pounds with the help of personal trainers at a Pine gym.

He now enjoys looking into a mirror.

“I still find it hard to believe that's me, sometimes,” said the formerly 312-pound, 6-foot Valenza.

Valenza now weighs 193 pounds.

“I'm becoming a narcissist,” he said. “I'm seeing definition in my arms.”

Valenza's confidence also sky-rocketed as his weight dropped.

“I'm so proud of him,' said Valenza's wife, Christina, 36. “The renewed confidence, that's what I find most attractive. It's like having a new husband.”

Last week, gatekeepers at daughter Sienna Valenza's day camp questioned Valenza when he arrived to take her home. Valenza hardly resembled his old self in the photo on his driver's license.

Valenza, a data analyst for AccessData in the Uptown section of Pittsburgh, seriously decided to lose weight after he visited Kennywood in 2012 and watched an attendant struggle to close the seat latch on his Kangaroo ride gondola.

How did he lose 119 pounds in 13 months?

Basically, Valenza reduced his daily caloric intake from about 3,000 to 2,000 calories. He became more physically active and set weight loss goals. He stopped drinking sugary beverages and starting taking home half of every entrée that he ordered in a restaurant.

Valenza credits personal trainers Courtney Kirkwood, Tammy Zubasic and Josh Proch of the Defined Fitness gym on Route 19 in Pine with giving him the tools — and tutelage — that he needed to shed the unwanted pounds.

The trainers taught Valenza to tally his daily caloric intake. They also suggested muscle strengthening and heart pumping exercises.

“He's definitely the biggest success story,” Kirkwood said about Valenza. “He's a walking billboard.”

Valenza also thanks his wife for arranging his first visit to Defined Fitness in June 2012.

“I was worried I was going to be a widow at 38,” she said.

Christina Valenza couldn't resist the gym's advertised offer of five sessions with a personal trainer for $50.

“I called and made the appointment,” she said.

“You're going,” Christina told her husband.

Married 16 years, the couple has two children — Giuseppe, 10, and Sienna, 7. The couple also is expecting a third child, a son.

Valenza still tracks his daily intake of calories and tries to eat something every couple hours. Every two days, he gets on a scale to check his weight. He also works out three days a week at Defined Fitness.

“I'm just trying to keep below 200 pounds,” he said.

As Valenza's body grew lighter and stronger, Valenza saw reductions in his cholesterol level and blood pressure.

His cholesterol level dropped from 212 to 134, and his blood pressure readings went from 140 over 75 to 100 over 60.

Valenza's weight loss also paid off at work when he pocketed $50 as the local winner of a “biggest loser” contest sponsored by AccessData.

“I've been asked to be our company's wellness ambassador,” Valenza said. “I could talk about this for hours.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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