When Losing Weight Feels Insurmountable
Four people found health and emotional reasons to try again.
John Barragan: Improving Sleep and Attitude Through Weight Loss
The fragility of life can often result in moments of clarity.
San Diego resident John Barragan felt his world tightening around him. Like
so many others, he had been active in his youth but became more sedentary with
age. The couch became his respite and food his destructive comfort.
Once an athlete, Barragan weighed nearly 300 pounds, and his health was
suffering. First he developed sleep apnea and needed a device to safely rest.
Then he required hospitalization for a heart arrhythmia. His family
history started to really worry him. His father passed away after a heart
attack in 2006, and diabetes was also common in his family.
"As a young man I was into running and boxing. I was in good shape. Then
you start going on your own and living life and paying bills. Some people react
well; but I let myself go."
"I was heading down a bumpy road. I didn't want to accept that."
Depressed and feeling self conscious, he was looking for an answer,
something he could connect with, that could improve his health, self-image, and
The key came from his cousin, who had taken a kettlebell class and
recommended that Barragan give it a shot. Kettlebells are weights best
described as bowling balls with handles, made famous decades ago by classic
"strongmen." A renewed popularity has taken hold, and kettlebell
classes -- which offer strength training and cardiovascular benefit -- have
become popular across the country.
It was with trepidation that Barragan entered the Iron Core training
facility. He initially stepped on the treadmill but was exhausted after 10
minutes. Undaunted, he hired a trainer and began working out with the weights
twice a week. He dropped a few pounds. He was getting stronger.
"At 300 pounds, it's hard to move your body around," he says.
Two years after picking up his first kettlebell, he's shed a whopping 100
pounds. At 200 pounds, he's fit and trim, yet still wants to lose another 50
pounds to feel he's achieved maximum results.
Excess weight, he says, is more than a health risk. It can crush everything
you thought you held dear.
"It eventually closes your world," Barragan says. "You don't
want to go out. You want to sit on the couch with the remote, watch TV, and
eat. Your world gets very small."
Since he began this transformative journey, his world has grown
In addition to kettlebell workouts, he's biking, hiking, spending time on
the beach, and socializing with friends. It's been many months since he's had
an arrhythmia flare-up. The settings have been drastically lowered on his sleep
apnea device, which he hopes to abandon by year's end. He’s so passionate about
his new lifestyle that he convinced his wife, Leticia, 39, to give kettlebells
a try. So far, she's lost 40 pounds.
"Now I see her feeling better about herself," he says.
"You can see the change."
Barragan's road to discovery is similar to many others who have shared his
struggle: acknowledging the situation, finding tools toward a solution, and
discovering passion and happiness throughout the journey.
"When you know that there's a problem, you have to find something that's
gets you where you need to go," he says. "Then you start seeing
what you're missing. I want to say I enjoyed living."
Lisa Brosch: Losing Weight for Those You Love
People can often lose part of themselves while taking care of someone else's
Lisa Brosch, 43, who lives in Carol Stream, Ill., never had a weight problem
as a child. But when she married and began having children, the pounds began
When her daughter, Kelly, was born with a heart defect in 1992, Kelly’s care
and needs took priority. Kelly required surgery at only three weeks old. At age
10, she received a heart transplant.
Brosch spent countless hours in physicians' offices and hospitals. The
family had to juggle the often-chaotic routine of daily life with a challenge
that would test anyone's ability to eat healthfully and fit in exercise.
"Kelly’s care was every day, all day," Brosch says. "It changed
the lives of all four of us."
For Brosch, the sacrifice was her own health and well being. Countless fast
food meals and less-than-ideal eating helped her weight reach 286 pounds. The
challenge of family, work, and caring for her daughter were simply far larger
priorities than ideal nutrition.
Three years ago, Brosch began to analyze the ways her own health was
slipping and how that would ultimately impact her ability to take care of her
daughter. She believed change wasn't just an option, it was integral for her
"That's when I began thinking about my own health and how Kelly was
going to need us to be there and support her down the road," Brosch says.
"I questioned whether I was healthy enough to be there for her."
She took a simple, yet imperative, step; she joined the local park district
health club in February 2005 with no specific goal or grand plan. The treadmill
seemed practical, so she began to walk.
"I really liked it," she says.
After examining her nutritional habits, she added more fruits, vegetables,
and salads. She started eating breakfast instead of getting so hungry that she
devoured large meals later in the day.
"Psychologically, you have to get to a point where you decide this is
how you're going to eat for the rest of your life," Brosch says. "The
second you start relaxing your focus, your weight will go back up. I realized
how bad eating was making me feel, and I realized how not relying on food in
the same way wasn't so hard."
The pounds started disappearing. And Brosch persevered despite setbacks that
could have easily caused her to slide: Kelly required another surgery and
developed diabetes from medication designed to prevent transplant
Fourteen months later,her weight loss of 100 pounds has transformed her
outlook, attitude, and happiness.
"It's like having this new toy," Brosch says. "You can put on
clothes, and you can look good in the clothes. And the feedback you get is a
great thing too."
And Kelly is following mom's lead.
Both mother and daughter traveled to the U.S. Transplant Games in 2006 and
2008. Kelly participated in table tennis, badminton, and bowling.
Mom, meanwhile, took part in the walkathon.
The experience with Kelly and her own transformation has enriched Brosch's
life more than she ever imagined.
"We make an effort to find the good in this," she says of the
struggles. "The people we've met, the experiences we've had."
Thanks to the support of her "biggest cheerleaders" -- son Tom, 19,
and husband, Larry -- she's now prepared with the tools, confidence, and
happiness to embrace life while being healthy and fit to provide the support
her daughter needs.
It's a makeover she couldn't embrace more.