At 651 lbs, Carlos Orosco didn’t think he’d make it to 40. However, after shedding more than half his weight, he’s turned his life around – even managing to conquer a marathon.
Three years ago, Orosco was in a bad way: as well as being severely obese, he had to deal with ulcers in his legs, extreme gout, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and cellulitis, a bacterial infection that causes painful swelling.
He knew he needed to make a change, so he met with a bariatric surgeon to discuss weight loss surgeries – it was then he learned the full terrifying extent of his conditions.
As told to PEOPLE, Orosco said:
We discussed my weight, age and the fact that if I didn’t make the necessary changes, that I would just continue to get larger, and my life expectancy was really uncertain.
So I made it through the rest of the appointment, left the office, sat on the bumper of my car and broke down crying for a long time, before regaining my composure. The fear of losing my life was made a reality to me that morning, and it was a feeling that I had never felt before.
Weight loss surgery was miles away. Orosco firstly had to prove he could modify his lifestyle to ensure he wouldn’t render an operation pointless by indulging in his old habits.
In service of himself and his family, he cut out fast food, fried foods, breads, fizzy juice and alcohol. Combined with regular walking, he managed to lose 100 lbs in just six months.
I knew that my sister and brother in-law were expecting their first child, and that I was going to be an uncle soon and I needed to get healthy now. I needed to be around for a long time to come, to be able experience my niece growing up.
I realised that I was being selfish, living the way that I had been for so long, and did not realise the family and friends that I would be affecting if something were to happen to me.
On December 22 2016, Orosco underwent weight loss surgery and managed to continue a much healthier lifestyle afterwards. However, there was an unexpected by-product of his health kick – a passion for running. In 2017, he tried to complete a 5k run/walk – he finished in 90 minutes.
Orosco explained it was ‘never something that I ever wanted to or thought that I would ever be interested in’, but he fell in love with the whole racing environment and the consistently supportive atmosphere.
Runners, walkers and these athletes in general are some awesome people who I have a very special place in my heart for.
I have a lot of great family, friends, trainers and training partners. They all help me in various ways, with motivation, inspiration, holding me accountable and always ensuring that me being healthy and happy is the priority.
In the year and a half since he started running, Orosco has completed around 32 races, from 8k events to marathons. On October 20 this year, he ran his first full marathon in Detroit.
He’s also shed a whopping 475 lbs, well over half his weight. He said his body image and self-confidence are at ‘an all-time high’. ‘I am much more confident, and most importantly I am genuinely happy, and do not have to fake it anymore. I can finally live a life, and lifestyle, that I feel was intended for me.’
Insisting it’s not an easy process, Orosco explained:
A lot of people see the before and after, and some see having a bariatric procedure as an easy way to solve the weight issue, but in actuality it is the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life, and have to work on every day. Some people don’t realise or understand the mental and physical sacrifice, and the challenges that are associated with this process.
There are also a lot of early mornings, extended days and late nights, and missing out on events, that are all part of this journey. You need to have the right people in your corner, the right people on your team. These people need to be people who know you, understand what you are going through, hold you accountable, listen to you, tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear.
In my experience, having these people, whether they be friends, or family, has been vital to my success, and I know that what I have done, and what I continue to do, would not be possible without them.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.