Teen changes life by losing more than 100 pounds

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014

While the fall is still months away, eight-grade student Enrique Aguirre is already making big plans for his freshman year at Dowagiac Union High School.

“I’m already signed up for soccer in the spring, but I also want to play football when I get to high school,” Aguirre said. “I also want to try wrestling and track. My whole first year of high school is going to be filled with sports.”

While Aguirre may sound like a typical athletics-obsessed 13 year old found in schools across the country, just one year ago he was anything but.

Since the beginning of last year, the Dowagiac Middle School student has lost more than 103 pounds, through a combination of regular exercise and healthy eating.

Although Aguirre said he was told for years that he should shed a few pounds to remain healthy, he finally decided last January to get in better shape.

“I was tired of going everywhere and have people stare or laugh at me,” he said. “I just felt alone, so I decided to lose weight.”

Aguirre said he started visiting the Dowagiac Strength Beyond gym on a regular basis, as many as two to three times a week. Before, Aguirre said he only visited the gym every couple of weeks.

“Before I started, I could hardly do even one push up,” Aguirre said. “Now I can do 20 in a row. I know it’s not a lot, but considering I couldn’t even do one before I think it’s a big deal.”

The teenager also began to watch what he ate and drank, refraining from eating fattening fast food meals, instead eating salads and grilled chicken sandwiches from Subway.

“I used to drink a lot of pop and Gatorade, but now I just drink water,” he said. “I also drink flavored water here and there.”

While the teenager began his weight loss regimen at the beginning of the year, he really didn’t start shedding weight in mass until the summer, after his doctor told him he had lost 20 pounds since his last visit.

“I got so happy I felt like I was going to cry,” Aguirre said. “That’s what really encouraged me right then and there to lose more weight.”

Since then, Aguirre made it a goal to lose more than 100 pounds before 2014 began. The eighth-grader said he accomplished this goal, discovering he had lost more than 100 pounds on New Year’s Eve, only hours before the ball dropped.

“Honestly, a year ago I didn’t know I could be littler, there’s no words for me to really explain it,” Aguirre said. “I can actually go to the store and buy clothes that fit me without worrying about it. It was a pain to find clothes in my size before.”

Before he shed the pounds, Aguirre said he would get hot very easily, and his face would often be drenched in sweat.

“Now, I can do more activities,” he said. “I can run and keep up with my dad, brothers and friends. I can have more fun now.”

Aguirre isn’t the only person who has noticed the transformation he underwent over the last several months. The teen said that his friends and teachers have all commended him for losing the weight, providing him encouragement when things got tough.

“One of my teachers recently told me that I looked like all skin and bones now,” Aguirre said.

He also thanked his family for supporting his efforts, saying that they were behind him every step of the way.

“What he’s undergone has taken so much strength and determination,” said Crystal Poe, his aunt. “He can serve as an inspiration for so many kids. They now know they are not alone. If Enrique can do it, at just 13 years old, so can they.”

Although his family is proud of what he has accomplished thus far, Aguirre said he still isn’t content to rest on his laurels. The teenager said he wants to drop a few more pounds this year as well, and is currently looking for another gym to frequent in place of the now closed Strength Beyond.

“My New Year’s resolution is to have abs,” he said. “It will take a while to do that, but I think I can do it.”