380lbs vs 188lbs

Most people in and around El Paso who haven’t seen me lately, I’ve had a bit of a “transformation”.

In October 2017 during my regular scheduled VA visit I was greeted with my bloodwork and prescriptions over a period of time after the usual vitals and dreaded date with the scale, which read 380 pounds. Ok, 380 pound and 6ft 3in tall equals a body mass index (BMI) of 42% or Morbidly Obese. Followed by Mr. Nevarez continue on this path and expire sometime in 2020.

I’ve faced death in many forms while in the USMC, but this information didn’t shake or stir me, but more of “what can be done”? So we talked about a regulated program the VA has called “VA MOVE” Program, where the Veteran goes thru a 12 week program that stresses diet, exercise, nutrition and mindset all of which play a vital role in weight loss. There is also a “TeleMove” program where the Veteran is monitored via phone and internet connection, it’s 24 weeks. In either program you are weighed weekly, as well as lectures on the subjects I stated.

The first two weeks the scale didn’t move for me, it was kinda disappointing, so I began looking for something to get me going. I really wasn’t a person who “hiked” much, but I live in the shadow of Mckelligon Canyon. That began my “strolls” three times a week taking on the “big hill” took me a month to get over it without stopping. Once that happened I just increase my distance gradually, while seriously cutting the calories from 8,000 at my heaviest to 2,500 daily.

Dieting at it very basics is “behavioral modification”, it takes about 90 days to change a specific behavior. My diet was mostly a protien “eggs, chicken, pork, fish or beef” and vegetables or fruit. I eliminated all starches, yes even tortillas (sigh). Got rid of carbonated drinks with sugar etc.

I completed the MOVE Program and made considerable progress, after researching my issues from the Gulf War etc and tying things together, my VA Dr agreed that Bariatric Surgery was in my best interest and a consult was sent to William Beaumont Army Hospital.

Yes William Beaumont has Bariatric surgery and it is the 1st Bariatric Center of Excellence in the Military. As in the Civilian sector patients are required to attend a Seminar, complete the required tests, exams, bloodwork etc and attend three Support Group meetings. After completion the patient undergoes a physiological exam and eventually a visit with the surgeon who explains the procedures. Either Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass. There are alot of factors that go into which surgery is in the patients best interest. Considering my maladies we decided that Gastric bypass was in my best interest.

The whole process from Seminar to surgery was about 90 days for me. Depending on the time of year (holidays) it may take longer considering the surgeons are Active duty and are subject to deployment etc.

I’ve gone to Weight Loss Seminars in the Civilian community prior to Beaumont and found them “rushed” which really doesn’t give the patient time to fully absorb the “life change” that’s ahead of them.

Really that’s what Dieting/Weight Loss is all about “Life Change” you are given literally your life back, how you approach this is entirely up to the person.

Myself I was/am going to make the most of this opportunity and I’m doing my best to not let myself or anyone I mentor down.

I had my surgery March 1st 2018 and that began my new opportunity at life.

March 2nd 2018

From weigh in at VA Oct 2017 to my one year follow up March 2019 I managed to lose 192lbs, by sticking to the protocols, using various “apps” associated with bariatics and weight loss etc.

I completed the Bataan Death March 2019 Honorary Division of 14.2 miles in 4 hours 40 min and currently training for Bataan Death March 2020, the goal to beat last years time.

I mentor a few patients who ask for advice or encouragement and it holds me accountable. My bloodwork is that of a mid 20 year old and the only real medication I’m taking is St Joseph Aspirin as a preventative for my heart. I speak at various Support Group meetings at William Beaumont and on Feb 7th 2020 I’ll be speaking with the lastest VA Move Program participants.

My Camelbak

If you are contiplating weight loss or weight loss surgery, best advice I could give is to research everything you can and invest in two books “Mindless Eating” and “Mindful Eating” these were very helpful and a good support system is a must!!!


Local 915 person who's a lil more involved than average with Veterans/Weight Loss and Community issues