Chula Vista Latino loses 125 lbs., changes his life
By Pablo J. Sáinz
A typical breakfast for Guillermo Ybarra was basically coffee and donuts or cookies. And for lunch, a big burrito or a burger from a fast food place would do it.
It’s no wonder that last year Ybarra reached 369 pounds.
“I was eating very unhealthy,” said the 36 year-old Chula Vista resident. “I got to a point when I asked myself, ‘How did I let myself get to that?’”
The turning point for Ybarra came last July, when driving home, his vision blurred for two consecutive days. A few days later, he was told he was diabetic, just like his mother and his father.
“For several months I didn’t want to believe it,” he said. “But at one point I said, ‘Enough is enough.’ I don’t want insulin, I don’t want medication.”
Last September, Ybarra enrolled in Kaiser Permanente’s Positive Choice Integrated Wellness Center, where after five months of dedicating and committing himself to group support, classes, and a special diet, he lost 125 pounds, lowered his cholesterol and blood pressure, and completely changed his appearance and attitude.
“Before, I would be always tired, half way of the day I always felt like taking a nap,” said Ybarra, who now weighs 248 pounds. “I feel a lot better, I sleep better, I walk better. I feel full of energy.”
Ybarra, who works in the finance department of Kaiser Permanente, is so motivated, that he now organizes events for the American Diabetes Association, and has found an interest for cycling and running.
“My goal is to be 200 pounds or a little bit under 200 pounds,” he said.
Dr. Michael Moreno, medical director of the Positive Choice Integrated Wellness Center in San Diego, said Ybarra’s story could inspire other Latino men to take charge of their health, especially when June is National Men’s Health Month.
“It was as if Guillermo was reborn,” Moreno said. “If we can get everyone to make the changes he made, we could change the face of the world in a matter of years. I hope Guillermo’s story can empower Latino men.”
Moreno, whose father was from the Mexican state of Veracruz, said Latino men should “put machismo aside and make them understand that taking care of themselves is a sign of strength, not weakness.”
He added that the Positive Choice Integrated Wellness Center offers several programs for men, both in English and Spanish, including Healthy Balance, an affordable weight management and healthy living program that runs for 14 weeks.
Moreno said that Latino men should be setting the example for their families. He highlighted the fact that Latinos are diagnosed with diabetes more than twice as much as non-Latino whites. Also, Latino children have one of the highest rates of diabetes.
Ybarra wants others to know how healthy it is to have the proper information and guidance at a young age.
“Education is big, especially from a young age,” he said. “If we teach kids to eat healthy from the start, they wouldn’t have to go through what I endured.”