Name: Eric Gonzales
Residence: Los Alamitos, Calif.
Job: Residential certified nursing assistant
Family status: Single, no kids
Peak weight: 431 pounds
Current weight: 271 pounds
When Eric Gonzales was diagnosed with hypertension and type 2 diabetes at age 32, he says it felt like a slap in the face. “My doctor said I was going to be on pills for the rest of my life. He even suggested weight-loss surgery,” he says.
After hearing that news, Gonzales broke down. “I went to my car and cried. I was heartbroken to get to that point. I was ashamed and saddened about the fact that I was in denial about my health. I didn’t really pay attention to what was in the mirror. I chose to ignore it, but you can’t deny when the doctor tells you these facts about yourself,” he says.
The health scares motivated him to make changes. “I knew I wasn’t a kid anymore and it was time to get myself in gear. I had to handle this or pay the consequences down the road,” he says.
A RETURN TO WHAT WORKED
A decade earlier, Gonzales lost 50 pounds with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and then stopped the program. He thought he would continue losing weight on his own. “That clearly didn’t work. Over 10 years I put the 50 pounds back on, plus another 100,” he says. He decided to try WW again.
“Looking back, I see I needed the support of the group and the accountability of seeing my peers each week. Without the accountability factor there’s nobody to show up to except myself,” he says.
He rejoined WW in April 2016. “When I went in the first time and I stepped on the scale I weighed 431 pounds. I knew I was never going to see that number again. My mindset shifted, and I knew I was ready.”
Gonzales wanted to lose over 100 pounds. But that seemed overwhelming. He set easier, attainable goals to help him move in that direction, like:
- Lose 20 pounds
- Go down a shirt size
- Walk a mile without his feet hurting
“As I checked those off it was time to set new goals,” he says. “The end goal sometimes seems unattainable, but you accomplish each little goal. I didn’t think I would lose 160 pounds but here I am. It’s doable.”
Gonzales likes how with the WW plan, no food is off limits. “You work the plan with how you want to live. With a diet, you’re usually restricted from having things. I knew that was something I couldn’t do long-term,” he says.
WW allots you a number of points per day, based on your weight and gender. Every food has a point value. “It’s up to you how you go ahead and use those points. Nothing is off limits. If you want a slice of pizza you can have a slice of pizza. Whatever you’re in the mood for is doable,” he says. “I never feel deprived. If I want to go out and have a glass of wine I can. If I want to have a burger I can.”
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WW also includes in-person wellness workshops where members can share ideas and struggles. Gonzales likes how each week’s meeting has a different topic. “They aren’t always weight-related, they’re life-related. That’s something I really like — it’s not about the scale, it’s about every factor in your life,” he says.
VIRTUAL SUPPORT AFTER A DEVASTATING SETBACK
In July 2017, though, Gonzales nearly quit the program. His grandmother passed away, and the loss hit him hard. Then, soon after, his father was diagnosed with brain cancer, and Gonzales quit his job to be by his father’s side.
Without an income finances were tight, and Gonzales decided to quit WW. He shared his decision on Connect, a part of the WW app where members can interact. He had lost more than 100 pounds at that point, and people in the group encouraged him not to quit.
Six members of the group, all people Gonzales had never met in person, contributed money to cover the cost of his WW membership for six months. “I’m so grateful to all of them,” he says. “I could have quit and undone everything.”
Gonzales has lost 160 pounds and he now has a clean bill of health. “I went from type 2 diabetes to prediabetes, and now I’m in the healthy range. My blood pressure is normal and I’m no longer on medication. I’m pill-free and healthy,” he says.
And he doesn’t have any plans to end his WW membership. “I say now I will be a Weight Watchers member for life, because I know that once you hit your goal it’s not over. You have life after that. It’s something I will always be doing,” he says.