HEALTHY LIVING
01/08/2014 08:37 am ET Updated May 01, 2014

In Hopes Of Building A Better Life, Pedro Gomez Jr. Lost 232 Pounds

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Name: Pedro Gomez Jr.
Age: 41
Height: 6'
Before Weight: 419 pounds

How I Gained It: Nearly all of my life, I had been either overweight or obese. Kids in school used to make jokes about me, and I had no self-esteem and no goals for my life. I suffered from a mild learning disability when I was younger and that, along with my weight, held me back from going to parties or playing sports. By the time I was 21, I was already at the 300-pound mark. By 2005, my weight had reached 419 pounds.

I had nearly no friends at all. Outside of my job, I was miserable and heartbroken. I turned to food to comfort my emotions. My portions were way out of control. Also, my foods were mostly fried, fast and junk. I was an emotional eater and most of that was due to the death of my father when I was just 5 years old. I never got to know my dad. That hurt me so much, I turned to food for healing.

Breaking Point: My doctor originally advised me to have gastric bypass surgery, but after seeing both my grandparents have back-to-back surgeries, I refused to have any surgery performed on me. So on January 21 2006, one day after my 34th birthday, I attended my very first Weight Watchers meeting as a birthday gift to myself.

How I Lost It: After my first meeting, I knew that it was going to work for me because the program taught me a lot about healthy eating and cooking my own meals and still allowed me to eat the foods that I love, in moderation and smaller portions. However, many of the foods that were my favorites back then, such as fried chicken, are no longer on my menu today. I eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, grilled chicken, salmon and every once in a while, I will plan ahead to enjoy pizza or a hamburger as an occasional splurge.

When I was 419 pounds, I almost could not walk. I would walk for 20 minutes on the treadmill and did light swimming in the pool. As I got stronger, I added strength training, and, after I reached my goal more than three years later, I started taking Spinning classes. I also completed my very first 5K race in 2009 across the Brooklyn Bridge. That same year, I participated on a softball team as a catcher.

But my journey came with a lot of challenges. I suffered four losses during my weight-loss journey: my grandmother, my grandfather, my then-job and my mom. Those tragedies turned my life upside-down and made it most difficult to stay on track.

I gained 22 pounds back due to sleep deprivation and stress. I couldn't go to my gym, and my social life was destroyed. I used my time out of work to get back to my goal weight. I started building a huge exercise DVD collection, and I placed it next to my television as a way to make sure I got in a workout each day. My exercise depends on how much time I have. For example, one day I might have 45 minutes, another day 10 minutes, but I do a lot of walking during the day. I recently returned to the gym and to working full-time. I also launched a side business as a Team Beachbody Coach to help others achieve the same success that I have.

I went from a size 5X shirt to a medium. I went from a size 60 pants to a size 34. I sleep much better now. I am a lot more active than I ever was. I hope to write a book about my life sometime in the near future. I track my journey on my Weight Watchers community blog, my Facebook page and my new YouTube channel.

The reality is that there is no finish line in weight loss, because in maintenance, the journey continues. But I am so looking forward to finding out what the future holds for me. I am in better health and have more energy than I ever had in my entire life. I found the person I was meant to be and continue to build the life that I deserve to live. It has been a slow and steady process for me. It has been a struggle. At the end of the day, I may have been through a lot, but I have accomplished a lot, too.

After Weight: 187 pounds
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