In two years, 18-year-old Edgar Hernandez lost over 200 lbs. and changed his hobby from watching marathons on TV to running them on the streets of St. Louis. Although his journey was long and difficult, Hernandez believes that everyone can do the same: "Don’t put it off. If you say you’re going to run, do it today, not tomorrow," he told CNN.
It took learning that he was pre-diabetic at 16 years old to get Hernandez to do something about his weight problem. For years, the teen had been ignoring his weight issues and continuing to pile on the pounds. By the time Hernandez was in high school, he weighed 370 lbs. His life consisted of daily cheese burritos and hours of video games. Outside of the house, Hernandez was bullied in school for his weight.
“I tried my best to ignore it. But there were times when I just gave in and started crying,” Hernandez explained to CNN. He decided to turn it all around when he learned about being pre-diabetic. “I just knew that I had to do something about it, that I couldn’t keep complaining over something that I had control over,” Hernandez explains in the YouTube video on his weight journey. The day he learned of his health issue, Hernandez went for his first jog, and today, over two years later, he hasn’t stopped yet.
Long, Difficult Journey
The journey wasn’t an easy one. At first, Hernandez couldn’t jog more than half a mile without having to stop because he felt ill. He started walking before and after school, slowly building up his mileage. Eventually, Hernandez added running intervals into his daily walks, and after a few months, he could run an entire mile without needing a break.
“I really couldn’t have done any of this without the love and support of my family and friends,” Hernandez explained on YouTube. Together with his older brother, Mario Hernandez, the two rearranged their family’s pantry. They got rid of the family’s usual processed food and replaced it with healthier options. Eventually, the entire family got involved with the new healthy lifestyle. “As a family, we go outside more, walk a little more. It shows because we have a lot more energy,” Mario told CNN. “Even though other members haven’t lost as much weight, maybe five pounds, you can see it in their faces.”
Lifestyle, Not Hobby
Today, Hernandez weighs in at around 180 lbs. His waistline shrunk from 48 inches to 33 and he dons a size medium top, not his usual XL, CNN reported. Instead of playing video games, you will see Hernandez either at the gym lifting weights or on the streets of his suburban St. Louis neighborhood running. For Hernandez, running did more than change his pant-size. It gave the teen a second chance at living.
“I wouldn’t even step out my door to get the mail before,” he said. “People don’t see the dark, sad side of me anymore. They see a bright, happy kid." The 18-year-old has already run a half-marathon and plans on completing a second one soon. He is enrolled at Southern Illinois University –Edwardsville, where he will study exercise science in the fall. He leaves one message to those who also want to lose weight: “You can win your battle against obesity. It is possible. You can make excuses all you want, but in the end, you have to realize only you yourself can make a change.”
Visit Edgar Hernandez’s Facebook page or on Twitter @RunWithEdgar to follow his journey.