The Wake-Up Call
On April 17, 1995--the day after my 29th birthday--I had a motorcycle accident.
I was placed on a stretcher, and it took five firefighters to lift me. To make matters worse, the medical technician attempted to put on a neck brace, but couldn't. Because of my weight, I didn't have a neck. And when she tried to put me on an IV to stabilize me, she couldn't because she couldn't find a vein.
Days after the accident I went to a doctor. I weighed more than 400 pounds and had a blood pressure reading of 230 / 120. For the first time in my life, I realized that my health was in jeopardy.
On May 31, 1995, I decided that although I had failed a thousand times in the past to lose weight, I would try one more time. But this time I would do everything in my power to succeed.
The first 100 pounds were lost by learning how to eat better--not by going on a diet, but learning about good nutrition with the help of my friend / nutritionist Sheri Keller. I started writing down what I ate, keeping my daily caloric consumption between 1,200 and 1,500 per day. Because of my size, the only exercise I could do was walking.
What kept me focused was my addiction to my own results. The feeling you get when you go through the transformation process is amazing. I would describe it as a high--the compliments from my friends, my family, my co-workers, and the feeling of being a source of inspiration to others.
The worst feeling was in the beginning. I could only weigh in at hospitals or clinics because only they had the capability to register more than 350 pounds. I remember one week when I went into a local hospital to use the scale and I weighed 349 1/2 pounds. I was so happy.
At the start of my second year, I joined a gym and started a high intensity cardiovascular program, in addition to a strength-training program. This was how I lost my second 100 pounds.
Currently, I do weights three times a week and 60 minutes of cardiovascular workouts, four to five times a week. My cardiovascular workout consists of high intensity treadmill and the Lifecycle.
By far the hardest thing to master was my eating habits. I didn't know how to eat, and I was completely ignorant when it came to nutrition. I used to eat out every day because it was convenient. I didn't have to cook, and a value meal in a fast food restaurant was pretty affordable. What I didn't know was that fast food is notoriously high in fat, calories and carbohydrates.
Being Hispanic didn't help either. Traditional Mexican food can be detrimental to your weight if consumed in excess.
Sometime after the accident, I played a game: I pretended how my life would be five years into the future. I saw myself obese, lonely, in physical pain. Ten years into the future, I saw myself dead. This did the trick. So on May 31, 1995, I made a decision. I told myself that today was the day I would change my life. I would do whatever it took to change my life because if I didn't, the ultimate price I would pay would be my own life.
Today, I realize that it wasn't about losing weight. The experiment was in conquering impossibilities and, in the process I got to meet a great person: me.
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The Vital Statistics
Name: Juan J. Partida
Occupation: Operations supervisor
Old Weight: 412 pounds
New Weight: 205 pounds
Time It Took to Get There: 2 years, 3 months