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How restaurateur Mark Stark lost 55 lbs.

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 | Posted by

Mark Stark, right, goes through a boxing workout with trainer Phil Krohn at Montecito Heights Health Club on Thursday, August 18, 2011. (Christopher Chung / PD)


In March, Sonoma County restaurateur Mark Stark was a coronary waiting to happen.

He was obese from eating the wrong foods and not exercising. His family and doctor were at the point of staging an intervention. Five months later, the owner of four restaurants has shed 55 pounds and is in the best shape of his life.

The secret to his success? New eating habits and an executive boxing program taught by Phil Krohn at Montecito Heights Health Club.

“I weighed 256 when I started these boxing workouts, and this week I weighed in at 201,” said Stark, who is 52 and 6 feet tall. “What’s better than losing the weight is that I have 10 times the energy as when I was carrying the excess weight.”

Stark’s business is hardly conducive to staying thin. He and his wife, Terri, own Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar in Healdsburg, and Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar, Stark’s Steakhouse and Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa.

“I was in one of the restaurants every night, eating late and then going to bed less than three hours later,” Stark explained. “The food didn’t have time to digest in my stomach. It just sat there and turned to fat.”

Mark Stark before his weight loss.

He now boxes three times a week, eats earlier in the evening and cut carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes from his diet, something he says made a big difference.

Krohn, who also is Montecito’s tennis pro, conducts his boxing workouts on the courts. Students start by learning a series of punching combinations wearing 14-ounce gloves. Krohn works one-on-one with them, calling for combinations and deflecting the blows with target mitts.

“For instance, the student is moving around like you would in a boxing match, and I’ll call out Trione,” he said, a combination he named for club member Victor Trione. “That means a rapid-fire combination of jabs and left hooks. I keep changing things up, and I think that’s what keeps my students interested.”

Stark said the varied routines are what got him hooked.

“I just couldn’t get motivated doing an exercise program on machines,” he said. “Terri was working with the club’s fitness director, Cheri Shoults, and mentioned that she was worried about my health.

“Cheri told her about what Phil was doing, and that sounded interesting to me. I have a little redneck in me and like to hear that pop of my glove hitting a target.”

Krohn remembers the first day he worked with Stark. “He couldn’t run 25 yards without having to stop. He put the gloves on, and I told him to move around and throw punches at me. He didn’t make it 30 seconds before he had to stop.”

After that first brief session, Krohn set the ground rules. If Stark challenged himself to lose the weight and get in shape, he would design a program to help accomplish the goal.

Over the years, Krohn has been summoned by entertainers like Cher, Bette Midler and Mariel Hemingway who want him to whip them into shape. At Montecito, he also works with nonmembers, charging them $65 a session.

“The key is to come up with workouts they enjoy,” he said. “Changing things up keeps them motivated.”

As Stark’s pounds melted and he got into better shape, his body began to crave more work. He now has one-hour sessions with Krohn three days a week, runs 12 miles a week and has a punching bag in his garage.

In January, Stark also plans to start teaching a healthy eating class called Caveman Cooking at one of his restaurants, and at Stark’s Steakhouse, he is constructing a new seafood and raw bar.

“It’s not a diet,” he said. “It’s just about making healthy eating choices. You start cutting back a little at a time and after a while, your body loses that craving.

“I am around food all the time,” he said. “If I can make healthy food choices, everyone can.”

A typical meal now means drinking two glasses of water and then eating fish, salad and fruit.

There is one downside to getting in shape and losing weight, Stark said.

“I had to buy all new clothes. The clothes I was wearing five months ago look ridiculous on me now.”

For a video, click here.

  • P. Dynes

    Hmm, well I’m delighted at his success, but this article feels like an ad…. If it were really about his weight loss, it would tell his back story, not the trainer’s…. Just my thoughts…

  • Just Me

    All of us have been brainwashed to think the word DIET means starving yourself one way or another. We’ve all tried it at one time or another only to have the weight come right back.

    We all need to learn that the word DIET should mean making healthy choices in what we eat for the rest of our life. It means portion control – and one plate at a restaurant is usually enough for 2 people (plus it cuts the food bill!). It means limiting the amount of “pleasure foods” instead of eliminating them only to indulge and binge on them when you can’t stand it anymore.

    Along with that, we all need more exercise. Just because you are on your feet all day, doesn’t mean you are getting enough exercise. Take a look at your dog. Is he/she overweight? You probably are too. Get the leash out and force yourself to take a walk. After several evenings, you’ll be looking forward to it. Or, get that old bicycle out that’s been gathering dust. Just start with a slow ride around the block. After a week or so you’ll be wanting more.

    My husband was given a harsh hit when his blood pressure was through the roof, we found out his glucose was too, and some other serious medical issues put him in the hospital fpr 5 days. He came out saying he wants to live.

    We cut out anything refined, white or artificial 10 weeks ago and today he is 60 lbs lighter and I am 28 lbs lighter. We go for a bicycle ride almost every evening, and most mornings use the Wii Fit program. It took about 2 weeks to detox from the carbs, sugars and refined processed foods. Today we feel much better!

  • Just Me

    By the way Mark, congratulations on your weight loss and change in your life style. It’s not easy but you have shown determination. Your wife appreciates it more than you know!!!

    I’m also glad to hear you are putting this into practice at your restaurant!

  • Gabrielle

    Congratulations! It is amazing how things change when we get out of bad habits.

  • J

    ““It’s not a diet,” he said. “It’s just about making healthy eating choices. You start cutting back a little at a time and after a while, your body loses that craving.”

    70% of the battle is the diet.

  • Makai

    Phil Krohn has been involved with fitness for decades. I remember back in the mid 70’s when he did a marathon tennis match at Howarth Park for charity. So it’s not fair to criticize him, but be happy for Mark who went through all the hard work with the ‘assistance’ of Phil to keep him on track, and accomplish his goals. Many individuals cannot do it alone, and need inspiration, and motivation.

    Congratulations Mark, keep it off, and keep exercising! Because diet alone is not the road to weight loss.

  • susan

    Must be a very slow news day.

    • Makai

      @Susan, and yet you find time to chime in ; – ) Hope your day(s) get more productive & active.

      As for me, I’m off to the beach and surfing this next week to celebrate one year after a double CABG procedure at the age of 63. COWABUNGA!!

    • lazy susan

      Poor susan, reading the town blog pages and expecting hard hitting news.

  • DR

    “70% of the battle is the diet.”

    I’ve found that 100% of the battle is mental. Everyone knows, especially today, what eating healthy means. They just don’t do it, and if their bodies cannot handle what they are eating due to lifestyle, age, genetics and other factors, they will become overweight. Our bodies know the right food we should be eating – but we tend to ignore what they are telling us in favor of what our mind wants (unhealthy food cravings). We may feel a physical desire for the food…but it stems from a mental and emotional desire.

    This is coming from someone who weighed 300 pounds (and stood 5′ 7″) as a teenager, then dropped down to 180 for many years. I fell off the wagon recently, and now 8 months later I’ve lost about the same amount as the gentleman in this article (down to 198 from around 250 at the end of the holidays last year). I say congrats to you Mark and to your trainer! I didn’t use a trainer (never have, actually), but regardless of how people do it, they have to develop the mental fortitude and someone with experience can really be beneficial.

    We can buy new clothes, get a tattoo or a shiny car…but when we change our body for the better, that’s something really special. :)

  • Share

    I was at Will’s in Healdsburg yesterday gaining some of the 55lbs. he lost. Yum, I love that place. Congrat’t and stay healthy so you can keep cooking that amazing food.

  • BowieWow

    I truly agree with Dynes’ comments. Senzell’s article is so blatant that I hope he received a membership at Montecito Heights Health Club (I am guessing he is already a member though). How about a feature on Parkpoint Club or the Airport Club? The message was simply lost for this reader in the obvious business plug.

    • Makai

      @ BowieWow, Have some cheese with your WHINE! And there have been articles on both of those clubs. Specifically the Airport Club and the Senior Doctor who recently won, and or set a record for triathlons.

      This isn’t bout the Clubs specifically, it’s about weight loss.

  • cb

    SIMPLE : As the great trainer L.P. once said to me , and I paraphrase,
    “Are you Commited or Interested In Change? If you’re just interested …that’s Not good enough”

    The Diet And Exercise Are Always There… ‘You’ve Got To Have The Desire To Make The Change’.

    • http://bradpipal@hotmail.com BradPipal

      I was at 327 lbs., and with seven TIAs in about four weeks..What a difficult time since 2007 and now 2011? So I came down to 196 lbs., in about eleven months, with a juice liquid diet…..And body builder enzymes…

  • Mariana

    Congratulations Mark! I really admire your determination! I wish you the best! When are you coming to North Carolina to teach us some healthy eating classes?

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