ST. LOUIS - St. Louis City Court Clerk Mariano Favazza is trying to give his employees a different type of Christmas gift this year - better health. The once rotund 367-pound court leader has lost 147 pounds since May 1, living on a doctor-monitored diet of protein shakes and broth. Then the Court Clerk talked his doctor into giving discounts to Court Clerk employees who want to try the diet too."I've lost 20 inches off my waist, four off my neck, and years added to my life, I hope," Favazza said.
Favazza estimated it cost him an average of $80 a week, or $1,800 total, a price too steep for most of his workers, who make $22,000 a year.
"That's almost 10 percent of their income," Favazza said.
So Favazza talked his doctor into giving his employees a discount. On Dec. 4, Favazza sent out a memo of the offer to all of his employees.
It was not greeted by all in a charitable light.
Favazza said a Grinch sent an anonymous letter to Presiding Judge Thomas Grady, complaining that Favazza used the city's letterhead and paper to send the memo.
Judge Grady said the court has more important concerns than Favazza's diet plan, but added, "It's not healthy to be fat."
Favazza estimated it cost one-third of a cent for each of the 160 copies of the memo - or just over 50 cents. He said that considering his office operates at a budget lower than it needed 10 years ago, it can handle the cost of the copies. Favazza added that his program can save the court money in the long term.
"If we have people take advantage of this then there will be less health problems and we can assume less absenteeism," Favazza said. "We have a huge problem with absenteeism."
Favazza said he has never felt better.
"It's like going to the gym and picking up a 140-lb. barbell and carrying it all around with you," Favazza said. "When you get up, you have it. When you lie down, you have it. I put the barbell down and I don't intend to pick it up again."
Favazza could only drink a protein shake, broth and all the diet soda he could drink from May to October. He also exercised regularly. Since then, his doctor has slowly increased his daily caloric intake and eventually he will get up to 2,200 calories a day. Favazza's brother, Lou, lost 275 pounds in 14 months on the same plan.
Favazza's son, Joe, has noticed a huge change in his father.
"The way he moves around, you can tell it is easier for him," Joe said. "The tasks he found hard for him are now simpler."
Favazza hopes his employees take advantage of the offer.
"I think several people in the office will take advantage of the doctor's generosity," Favazza said. "God bless the doctor's generosity and God bless those who want to make a change."
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