Then and now_ runner loses 100 pounds before rock 'n' roll las vegas – competitor. com
Eloy Gonzalez was living the fat life: Selling condos in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, traveling the world, and playing Texas Hold ’Em in Monte Carlo, France, Netherlands and Las Vegas.
The problem was, he was also literally fat, at 5 feet 8 inches and 295 pounds. In December 2011, Gonzalez tried squeezing into a suit before visiting his mother but no matter how hard he sucked in his gut, buttons weren’t buttoning,
zippers weren’t zipping.
“I became morbidly obese,” says Gonzalez, now 43 years old.
Contrast that to the Eloy Gonzalez who will be lining up to run this Sunday night’s GEICO Rock ‘n’ Las Vegas Half Marathon. Now he weighs 185 pounds. “At least one-third of me is gone,” marvels Gonzalez, who now lives in Tucson, Ariz.
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Pizza, soft drinks and fast food, along with the pack-a-day cigarette habit, have been replaced by vegetables, water and protein shakes. The Las Vegas race will be Gonzalez’s 10 th Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event of the year, and the guy loves Sin City more than any gambler, showgirl or entertainer.
“I am going to run Vegas every year for the rest of my life,” says Gonzalez, whose first half marathon was Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas in 2012.
But before reaching the high-on-life space he fills now, Gonzalez sank to a canyon-deep low. That was back when he couldn’t fit into a suit. He had given up smoking the year before, and in place of cigarettes, he stuffed street tacos, quesadillas, cheeseburgers, French fries, Doritos and ice cream in his mouth. He kicked the tobacco habit, but plastered 50 pounds across his already large frame.
“My brothers had a hard time recognizing me from the year before,” he says. “I wanted to play with my niece and nephews, but I couldn’t. I felt bad.”
On Dec. 28, 2011, Gonzalez visited the doctor who told him he was pre-diabetic. “My life is close to over,” he remembers telling himself. “I am fat. I am so sick. I am not going to be alive in five years if I don’t make changes. I am not going to change my body; I am going to change my mind.”
So, Gonzalez cut back on his work schedule. He learned how to cook healthy food. He ate four to five small meals a day. He started walking. He walked up to 30 minutes, then added a minute of jogging, gradually tacking on more running.
In May 2012, having lost 40 pounds, Gonzalez was playing poker with friends and one of them suggested he run a half marathon.
“C’mon, I am not an athlete,” Gonzalez had replied. “Don’t make fun of me. I’m just losing weight.”
The friend sent Gonzalez a list of half marathons. When Gonzalez spotted the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, his eyes rolled in excitement like sevens on a slot machine. Gonzalez showed up to The Strip in 2012, down 70 pounds to 225. He knocked off his first half marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 38 seconds.
Even now, three years later, having dropped another 40 pounds—he’d like to lose 20 more—Gonzalez is not consumed by the clock. He finished his second marathon earlier this year at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona, crossing the line in 6:51.
“I don’t care who wins. I run for my life. Let Meb [Keflezighi] win,” Gonzalez says. “I don’t care about the time. I still [run] with no watch. My attitude is, ‘No fun, no run.’”
Gonzalez adds that he’s even a better poker player now because his body is healthier and his mind sharper.
“I used to fight myself,” he says. “I was so tired. My blood wasn’t right. My eyes were tired. Players took advantage of me. Now, I run in the morning, eat salads and I’m picking up all those pots. In running, you have to be patient, you have to be smart, you have to put everything together, you have to rest. It’s the same in poker. You have to be disciplined.”
In the midst of writing a book, telling his story, Gonzalez wants to provide health tips and a how-to narrative so that people can jump-start their lives.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 500 pounds or 60 years old or a boy or girl or live in Mexico or Africa,” Gonzalez says. “You can do this. I know how to help somebody who doesn’t know how to start. They see pictures of me before and now, and they know I am not lying.”
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