CLEARWATER — Marion J. Corigliano's T-shirt size is XL. That's one X.
Four months ago, she wore shirts with two or three Xs.
Corigliano, who also goes by Matti, tried nearly every diet. She lost weight, then gained it back.
Her quest was further thwarted by health problems. Doctors first found a tumor in her breast in 1996. Since then, she has had more than a dozen operations to remove benign tumors.
But this time, Corigliano is keeping the weight off. The 41-year-old Clearwater resident, who was 330 pounds at her heaviest, has lost 50 pounds since January and wants to lose 50 more.
"I see myself in the mirror," she said. "I've seen what I can accomplish. I'm not gaining it back."
On Jan. 2, 2008, she and her husband, Domenick Corigliano, 53, joined the Clearwater branch of the YMCA. They started going every weekday, after work. Together they'd work out on cardiovascular exercise machines for 30 to 45 minutes. Afterwards, Matti Corigliano would swim in her home pool for another 30 minutes.
"I've reached a point where I have to do it for my health," she said.
Now Corigliano, a retired electrician, is one of the Y's newest employees. Earlier this month, she started working at the front desk and is taking a lifeguard certification course.
And she is using her story to inspire others. When new people come in, she encourages them to join the group personal training class she participated in that teaches people how to exercise.
Elizabeth Nelson, the YMCA's senior program director, calls it "full circle success."
"That's our goal is to have her touch many lives," Nelson said.
Corigliano and her husband were inspired by family friends Bill and Jim Germanakos, twin brothers who joined the reality television show, The Biggest Loser. After losing 164 pounds, Bill won the contest.
Corigliano said she's learned that crash and fad dieting didn't work, so she's changed her way of eating. She's replaced french fries with home-baked sweet potato fries, and swapped frozen yogurt for ice cream. Snacks are now fruit, hummus and granola bars instead of chips, dip and candy bars.
She cut out alcoholic beverages, eats only when she's hungry and prepares smaller portions.
The support from her husband, whom she calls her "rock," and the staff at the Y have been amazing, she said.
"I'm getting better, getting healthier," Corigliano said. "Maybe that will stop these tumors from coming."
Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727)445-4181 or [email protected]