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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 vitality.

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 tremendously.

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."

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