The 101-day budget impasse may have ended with painful state funding cuts and government staff reductions, but it also helped Gov. Rendell win his personal battle of the bulge.

Rendell, who embarked on his weight-loss mission amid the tense budget negotiations last spring, said he had lost 56 pounds and is about eight or nine pounds away from his goal of getting below 200.

"I want to see the '1' on the first place on the scale," Rendell said yesterday.

The famously prodigious eater, known for never passing up a cheesesteak or canapé, weighed in at 265 last spring.

Rendell said his son, Jesse - who was married in 2008 - told him that he would like his father to be around to see his future grandchildren play sports. Rendell decided then that it was time to ramp up the workout schedule and reduce meal portions.

He said he figured the budget impasse was a good time to start. "I knew we had a stalemate, and as the frustration built, I needed something positive to counter it," said Rendell. "Little did I know it would be 101 days."

Rendell said he had "by and large" kept with the diet but confessed that over the holidays he had "slipped up a little." - Amy Worden