CATHEDRAL CITY – Weight-loss surgery can be a life saver for anyone willing to go through the “pain, agony, and difficulty,” according to Mark Carnevale. He speaks from experience.

A classic yo-yo dieter, Carnevale would lose 20, 30, and 40 pounds only to regain them – and more.

As the owner of Nicolino’s Famous Italian Restaurant in Cathedral City, he was working long hours, ate dinner late in the day, and come on, he was surrounded by to-die-for Italian food and all that implies. Pizza, pasta, cheese, meatballs, garlic bread and more.

On June 15, 2015, Carnevale had had enough.

Weighing 320 pounds, he reclaimed his life — and his future — with the help of a bariatric surgeon in Riverside.

Carnevale’s City Council colleague, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis, is scheduled to have gastric bypass surgery on Aug. 31. Carnevale called it, “A great idea.”

“At 65, I was in the poorest health I’ve ever been in my life,” Carnevale told Uken Report, adding that he lived through two strokes and had a carotid artery that was 99 percent blocked. “My knees were so bad it pained me to walk. I contacted my family doctor … of 25 years. (He) was all for it.”

“The most important part of the surgery is mentally,” Carnevale said. “You must be at that point of readiness to change your life forever. I was there.”

After the operation, Carnevale said he spent about three weeks of studying his new way of life. He researched recipes, new foods, beverages, exercise and most importantly how to stay committed to his new lifestyle.

“I lost about a pound a day for a total of 160 pounds,” Carnevale said. “Since then, I have gained 25 pounds and am holding. I still must eat correctly. Let me put it to you like this —no fried foods, no red meat, no grease. There are a lot of no’s.  I’ve had no carbonated drinks in three years.”

Prior to his surgery, Carnevale said he was taking four medications; today, he takes none.

Surgery Adds Years to Councilmember's Life

Carnevale at his lowest weight, 160, after surgery.

“I truly added years to my life,” he said. “But I always remember that I can get right back up there if I choose to do so.  This operation is simply a tool for you to reach your health goals that you always wanted.”

At first, Carnevale said he was losing weight so fast he bought clothes at discount stores because he rotated through pants and shirt sizes so rapidly.

“When I went to see my mother, she did not recognize me,” he said. “Friends were coming into my restaurant a year or so later and did not recognize. It was kind of comical. I thought they were mad at me.”

Turns out they simply did not know who he was.

At his heaviest, Carnevale’s pant size was 56; his shirts were XXX.

At his lowest after surgery, he boasted a 36-inch waist and an L shirt. Today, he is holding at a 38-inch waist and an L shirt size.

“I recommend this diet to anyone,” he said. “It’s not a free ride. It’s not a miracle. It is a commitment.”