With a family history of diabetes and obesity, this was the final push Erick needed. He realized that it was time to take control of his health or face a myriad of health problems later in life.
“Diabetes runs in my family, and that’s something I didn’t want in my life at all,” Erick says.
Starting his weight loss journey at 308 pounds wasn’t easy, but with motivation and support from his family and the medical advice of Dr. Daniel Slater, his primary care physician at Harvard Vanguard’s Watertown practice, Erick was on his way to a healthier lifestyle.
He swapped potato chips, chocolate milk and fast food for fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, diligently recording his food intake in a food journal. During his senior year of high school, Erick joined the football team. As he began eating healthier and exercising more, he began to lose weight.
“All my friends ask me ‘Erick, how’d you do it?’ or ‘You’re half the person that you used to be,’ but I tell them it’s as simple as just eating right and being active,” he explains.
Erick, now 18, gives his family much of the credit for motivating him to lose the weight. He saw his oldest brother, who had also struggled with his weight, return from Army basic training trimmer and leaner than ever. He witnessed his other brother drop 90 pounds after earning an exercise and health science degree from UMass Boston. Seeing these results firsthand, Erick knew that he too could lose the weight.
Now, the three brothers work out together and recently competed in a four-mile obstacle course race with 15 ft. walls, 20 ft. jumps, and an ice bath – for fun! They’ve even convinced their mother to adopt a healthier lifestyle, helping her shed 50 pounds along the way.
Before beginning his weight loss journey, Erick, a typical teenager, never paid much attention to his doctor’s recommendations. But that didn’t stop Dr. Slater from encouraging Erick to lose weight. During visits, he reminded Erick of the consequences of being overweight, referring to Erick’s higher-than-average Body Mass Index (BMI) and family history of diabetes. Dr. Slater would suggest small changes—eat fruits and vegetables, consume smaller servings, be more active. During Erick’s most recent checkup, Dr. Slater revealed that Erick is at his lowest weight since eighth grade and that his weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are within the healthy range.
“People are telling me they’re losing weight because of me, which is probably the best thing I’ve ever been told,” says Erick. “It’s the best, the feeling of helping others make lifestyle changes.”
Two years after beginning his journey, Erick currently weighs in at 195 pounds. There is nothing stopping him from completing anything he sets his mind to, and his future looks bright. Erick, who will attend UMass Boston in the fall to study criminal justice, is excited about what his future holds. His lifelong dream of becoming a police officer is a reality now that he can keep up with the physical demands of the job.
And when Erick goes to amusement parks now, he fits comfortably in the rides.
“I can fit in rides a lot easier,” he explains. “I can take off my shirt and not be ashamed. I can take pictures with my girlfriend at the beach. I can enjoy myself, and I have a lot more confidence.”