tom trevino headshot

No wonder we’re all a little bit crazy.

In the first few pages of a single fitness magazine, I was thrown more factoids than anyone could possibly keep straight: I may be poisoning myself with arsenic by eating too much rice, that music won’t necessarily improve my cycling, bands are better than dumbbells, I need to drink milk post-workout, I should sleep more to decrease body fat, I need to have my caffeine with yogurt, etc.

Those were just a few of the highlights, and while most of the blurbs were based on small-scale research (the sleep study specifically related to Japanese men) you have to wonder if we’re not riding this information wave to our demise.

magazine overload

With two-thirds of us overweight or obese, and chronic rates of diabetes, heart disease and other ailments, do we really need to be obsessing over our zinc intake, or the perfect program for a shapely posterior?

Don’t we literally have ‘bigger’ things to worry about?

Shouldn’t the magazine headlines read something more like:

Moving More, Eating Less – Probably A Good Idea!

You Haven’t Eaten a Single Vegetable Since Wednesday!

Walking: An Ingenious Way to Get Places!

When it comes to health and wellness, we seem to dismiss the big, important things we do know, in search of those infinitesimal ‘magical’ details that we don’t, all in the hopes of unlocking a secret code that once and for all will make us strong, healthy, lean and beautiful.

It’s compelling stuff for sure. Who doesn’t want to believe that a specific element, or program or food (or dismissing as much) will solve all our wellness woes?

Information is great. But when all those little bits of data obscure our vision and cloud our judgement, we can easily lose sight of the big picture. And when that happens, all the yogurt and caffeine in the world probably won’t help.

Speaking of the big picture, you might remember our friend Juan Ramirez from the HEB Slimdown Showdown; a comprehensive 12-week health and wellness challenge that concluded in early April. Juan dropped 38 pounds and decreased his body fat percentage 18 points, earning him the Healthy Hero award.

Ramirez went from size 4XL clothing to size 2XL clothing and is on his way to single digits soon.
Ramirez went from size 4XL clothing to size 2XL clothing and is on his way to single digits soon.

But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it may just be the beginning, as now the responsibility and motivation to maintain a healthy life is completely on his shoulders.

That transitional stage is something almost all of us have gone through – whether it’s coming back down to earth after training and completing a particular event, or following a weight loss protocol for a specific period of time – and it can be the hardest part.

So, Juan is our everyman, and we plan to check in with him every once in a while to see exactly how he’s doing in this new life of his.

But first, a little background and a few numbers on our main man:

  • Heaviest weight: 375
  • Starting weight at Slimdown Challenge: 315
  • Finishing weight: 277
  • Current weight: 266
  • Goal weight: 200 – 225

So, how are things going since the end of the Slimdown Showdown, Juan?

Things are going okay, and better than I thought… The funny thing is that since we tend to celebrate things with food, the day we finished the contests, the whole family went out to eat at Pico de Gallo! And I’m thinking to myself, ‘this is my first real test!’ But I did fine and ordered some healthy things off the menu.

Is it harder to stay on track now that the competition is over?

I’m kind of going at my own pace now. There’s not as many responsibilities, so I have to do this on my own.

What’s the most challenging aspect of this new, healthy life?

My main challenge now is dedicating time for myself, and using the free time I have wisely. Lately I’ve been waking up at 4:3o or 5 a.m. for my workouts because that’s the time I have available. I’ll get out and run a few miles, and I’m trying to make it a habit. When I do, I feel really good about it.

How do you stay focused?

I keep in touch with the other contestants and we help each other out. We set up a private group on Facebook and post our weight each Monday, so everyone knows how everyone else is doing. We even opened it up to contestants from years past. They have a little more experience, and it’s great to get advice from each other and share our stories.

Have you had any epiphanies or learned anything about yourself these last few weeks?

I’m definitely getting stronger! I did limited weight training during the contest, but now I’ve added a little more, and it’s fun! I’ve been working out with a contestant from last year and its been great. I also use a heart rate monitor and can see my improvements there too.

Aside from hitting the gym a bit more, have you tried any other new activities or training routines recently?

I’m training for a 5K at the end of June and want to do the Rock and Roll half marathon. So, aside from strength training, I’ll be working on a half marathon training routine to help build my endurance.

Aside from tracking calories, Ramirez also uses apps to track his workouts as well.
Aside from tracking calories, Ramirez also uses apps to track his workouts as well.

What’s on your plate today?

Oatmeal for breakfast is what I usually have, and sometimes a little Greek yogurt. For a snack I’ll grab some almonds. And today lunch was leftovers from the weekend birthday bash –  I had a burger patty with lettuce, tomato and onions, and added a side salad.

Do you have a strategy, or a favorite go to snack when you have a craving?

Small gala apples – they’re a perfect snack. That or some clementines … If you’re truly hungry, you’ll eat real food like that, but if an apple or an orange is not appealing, it’s probably just a craving that will pass. I’ll sometimes have celery as well, and even peanut butter, but I make sure to portion it out first

How about a nugget of wisdom or some words of advice for others trying to make some changes and live a little healthier?

Make sure to track what you’re doing and know what you’re eating. If you don’t know how many calories you’re consuming, it’s going to be hard to monitor and make progress. I still use an app to track things… And make your goals attainable and start small; even if that means beginning with a 15 minute walk on the treadmill, or a walk around the block. The small things count.

What’s your goal for the next four to six weeks?

Between now and then I’ll probably drop another 8 to 10 pounds, but I also plan to start training a little more consistently. I have my 5K coming up soon, and half marathon training just beyond that.

Tom Trevino is a writer, artist and wellness coach based out of San Antonio. His column, “The Feed,” addresses issues related to health and wellness. He holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio, with training and certification from the Cooper Institute. He has a fondness for dogs, the New York Times, and anything on two wheels. When he’s not writing, training, or cooking, you can find him wandering the aisles of Central Market.

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