Jerry Andrade received a birthday gift after he had a stroke at just 20 years old. It was a membership to a gym. What he thought was the worst gift, at the time, turned into the biggest gift of his life.
Andrade is a regular at XTC Fitness and Sports now, but walking into the gym for the first time was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
“To go into a room of people, who are sweating, they’re in shape and all of that and you’re just the biggest guy,” Andrade said.
At his heaviest, Andrade weighed 344 pounds, wore a 3XL and a size 56 pants.
“The doctor said if I continued to be the way I was and continue eating what I was eating, living that lifestyle, he said I was going to die at a very young age,” he said.
Faced with that news, Andrade decided to get use out of his gym membership.
“I decided to try to run, which I couldn’t do. I thought I could,” he said. “I couldn’t run on the machine because it would make the belts stop.”
But slowly he turned a walk into a jog and now Andrade can run a mile without stopping.
“You set yourself with little goals — like one day I hope I can do a pull up and the day that you do it, you just scream because you did one,” he said.
Andrade got down to a healthier weight — 189 pounds.
“Well, my heart is strong,” he said. “My heart is good. The weight loss had been good.”
He also put on some muscle by adding weight training to his routine. He now weighs a solid 230 pounds.
“The difference between that me and this me is that I feel like I don’t have limitations of what I can do,” Andrade said.
He is determined to keep off the 100-plus pounds he’s lost and inspire others to do the same. He said one of the toughest things was adjusting to a new way of eating. Andrade traded in his two large sandwiches for a chicken breast and veggies. His better choices are paying off and he tries to pay it forward to others in his exercise classes. He says if he sees someone struggling, he’ll pull them along and run with them until they finish.