Pavle Milic, Ty Largo and Other PHX Foodies Fight Fat

​Dieting -- much like pimpin' -- ain't easy. When you make the decision to cut back on, say, cheeseburgers, it seems like that's all you see. Every commercial on TV features the glorious sizzle of a patty mid-grill; every billboard tempts you with glistening lettuce and tomato topped with gooey cheese. You dream of sesame seeds.

If it seems hard for the average person, consider the plight of the food industry worker, who's surrounded by rich, decadent meals on the daily.

Pavle Milic, owner of FnB Restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale, knows firsthand how rough it can be to balance your weight with a food-centric job. He recently began a quest to lose 20 pounds in three months and admits steady losses have been tough to maintain.

"The first week I went, I weighed 197 at the start," Milic says.

"By the end of the week, I was at 191," he continues. "That was pretty freaking awesome, so on my day off I had three beers, two glasses of white wine, three glasses of red wine, and I invited people over -- one of them being Payton Curry -- who made foie gras mousse, homemade mozzarella, chicken, chimichurri, rice and salad. So of course, I weigh myself the next day and I'm at 196. Talk about sabotaging all your hard work."

Part of the problem, Milic says, is the very nature of a food worker's job. 

"Being in such close proximity to good food and wine definitely doesn't help when it comes to restraint," Milic says.  "It's also a pretty intense job in terms of how it affects you emotionally. You have to be able to break that habit of rewarding yourself because you worked hard, had a challenging night, or had someone complain about you or your service."

A vampire life that often brings chefs and servers home well past midnight also leads to dietary dilemmas.

"Most nights, by the time I get home it's 2:30 a.m.," Milic says. "You work your ass off all day, and it's so easy to come home and say, 'Shit, I worked hard all day. I'm going to pop a bottle of wine and have dinner proper,' and you end up in bed...with a full belly. It goes with the lifestyle a little bit until you decide to take a step back and change something."

Which is exactly what more and more Phoenix foodies seem to be doing.

Payton Curry, formerly of Caffe Boa and now heading the recently-launched pop-up Curry-ousity, will be hosting a vegan menu on Easter Sunday. (And we hear he's taken a personal interest in eating healthier himself, though he has yet to tweet us back.)

Ty Largo, owner of Up Agency and the author of Juxtapalate, a local food blog, recently launched a personal weight loss campaign to combat the habits brought by his profession. Largo says he dines out at least 8-12 times a week at many restaurants in the Valley, talking food for restaurants and keeping a pulse on the market.

"My strategy: smaller portions and gallons of water a day," Largo says. "Add in a little tennis and I'm hoping to ready for poolside cocktails in late April."

The foodie says he also plans to organize a weight loss challenge among chefs, food critics and bloggers in the Valley.

In March, Charleen Badman -- Milic's partner at FnB -- hosted a lunch for 550 students at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center elementary school in Scottsdale. The meal showcased healthy ingredients from local farms, introducing students, teachers, administrators and parents accustomed to processed school pizza to foods like purple carrots and watermelon radishes.

Badman also walks the walk, having lost more than 100 pounds since starting her own diet about a year ago, according to Milic.

"I've been watching Charleen literally melt away in the past year," Milic says.

​Inspired by Badman and Curry, Milic embarked on a habit overhaul, pledging to attend Ultimate Body Boot Camp sessions three days per week, hike Camelback Mountain twice a week, and limit the days he drinks wine to his day off.

You read that right: Pavle Milic, the man who crusades so hard for Arizona wine, has all but cut the drink out of his diet.

Acknowledging his space in the public eye, Milic made the decision to post his dieting efforts online.

"It's really not that cool to put up everything you feel about yourself that's not right, whether it's your man boobs or your big ass belly, for everyone to see," he says. "But if I can at least chronicle what I'm going through, that may be the impetus or the catalyst to compel someone else to make some change in their lives. If I impact positive change in at least one person, I feel it's worth the work of actually having a blog."

Check out pavlemilic.com for more about his health experiences and check back with Chow Bella for news about Largo's foodie challenge later this year. 

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