Weight loss. It’s tough. It’s a challenge. It takes discipline. It takes a well thought out plan, and that plan has to be executed diligently and daily. So when someone loses weight, say over 20 pounds, credit must be given. But when an 11-year-old young boy takes it upon himself to lose weight, and he loses over 30 pounds (31 to be exact), he deserves much credit, hugs, and even a visit from me (more on that later). He is my godson. His name is Gavriel.
Before his weight loss. This is Gavriel and his mother in June.
Gavriel, or as his family and myself call him, Gavy, lives in California. He is my best friend’s son. He just turned 11 and he is already 5’5″. He is a great kid, full of joy and laughs, and has plenty of physical energy. His mother told me that she rarely sees him tired, if ever.
On my previous visits to California, and when Gavy and his father visited me here in Maryland, I also noticed that Gavy was very energetic and moved well for someone his size. When I say his size I mean it in two ways. He is tall for his age, and he was overweight for his height. And please do not feel bad for Gavy, he knows he is tall and he is very aware that he was overweight. (He still has some pounds to lose, but because he is still growing in height, it can be tricky to calculate the correct weight he should be).
I was not planning to go to California this year, again. I was there this summer, and Gavy had just started practicing with a football team. He had to lose about 30 pounds to make the team. For 10 and 11 year olds, there are weight limits for kids in the name of safety. The coaches made it clear that in order to play on that specific team, Gavy would have to lose the weight. No exceptions would be made. I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to do it, but I have learned that in life, humans can accomplish almost anything they set their minds to. I also promised Gavy that if he lost the weight and made the team, I would go back to California to watch him play. He lost the weight, and I had to keep my promise to my godson.
I think it is absolutely incredible that he lost the weight. INCREDIBLE!!! And commendable. I could have blogged about his weight loss from my point of view, but when anyone accomplishes something impressive, I rather hear how they did it in their words. So I interviewed my godson without his parents or siblings around so he wouldn’t be interrupted or influenced into giving different answers. Here’s the interview.
Why did you decide to lose weight? “I wanted to be on the same team with my friend Marcelo, and I also thought it would be good for me, and help me be lighter on my feet.”
Marcelo and Gavy.
Before your weight loss journey, what did you drink regularly? “I drank everything. Chocolate milk, all juices, any juice, milk shakes, and root beer floats.”
What do you drink now that you are on your weight loss program? “Just water.” (Yes, that was his answer).
Who taught you how to do your diet? “Diana. She is the mother of one of the kids on the team. She made me a list of the foods I could and shouldn’t eat, and also explained that I should lose weight for myself”. (Diana is a nutritionist and personal trainer). Keep up the great work Diana!!!! She played and integral part in his weight loss.
What has been the most difficult part of losing weight? “Facing reality that I can’t eat those junk foods anymore.” (What a great answer!!!!!!!!) “Like being dropped off at a party and having to make the right food choices. I’m not lying, I used to make the bad food choices a lot.”
Are you used to the diet? (This is the one question I would say he thought about the response for the longest time.) His response. “I’m used to the routine.”
What’s the most difficult part of weight loss for you, the diet or the exercise? “You can love exercise, but if you eat junk, the exercise does nothing. In my opinion, the diet is harder if you’re new to the routine, especially if you were big like me. I used to cheat at first, but then I got serious because I knew I had to make the team.” (I swear that these were his answers!! Incredible!! He just turned 11.) He went on to tell me about someone he knows who couldn’t lose the weight and this is what he said “That’s the problem with some people who are overweight, you give them the work (plan), and they give up.”
What did you eat before you started your diet plan? “Pizza, potatoes, burgers, fries, ice cream, bacon, tortillas, quesadillas, chicken fingers, and chicken nuggets. I ate chicken, but not the way you eat it. It was always in nuggets or strips.” (Like all children, he is very observant, and has noticed that I do eat chicken, but not in nugget or strip form.)
When are you hungriest? “After my football games, because my belly is empty.” True dat!! (I don’t blame him, on his game days he can’t eat much because he has to make weight. Heck, I was hungry after his game too, and I was just watching and not dieting.) ”
Do you ever get to eat whatever you want? “I cheat once a week. A burger with fries or some pizza. And I still recommend you drink water, so it’s not that bad.”
Keep in mind, this is a young boy who just turned 11 in September, so I debated whether I should ask him the next question. During our interview I got teary eyed a few times because he so young, innocent, and honest. I decided I would ask him the next question.
Did you know you were overweight? “I knew I was overweight because bending over was difficult sometimes, and I would get out of breath going up steps.”
Do you have any advice for people trying to lose weight? “For everyone trying to lose weight, it’s no joke. It takes hard work. If you are one of those people who really want to lose weight, eventually you will see that hard work pays off. Your health will improve.”
What differences do you feel physically, now that you have lost over 30 pounds? “I can do more physically, and I don’t feel tired like before.” Then he asked if he can just tell me some things, I said “sure”.
“For me, when I was big, my mind didn’t think about homework or anything when I got home from school, just eating, eating, eating. But now my mind has a clearer mindset on what it has to do, especially because the doctor told me that the bigger I got, the shorter my life span would be. Now when I’m bored, I try to do active things instead of playing video games.” (I’m telling you, the boy is amazing.)
What are your goals in football? “I want to be fit enough to get a good scholarship, to get a degree. So I could make the pros with more experience.”
So how big is this kid, my godson? I won’t share his weight with you, but I will tell you he is tall and strong for his age.
His feet are already as big as mine, and I’m 5’11”. My foot is on the right. I didn’t know my foot would be on display for the world to see, so I skipped the pedicure.
Gavy hugging and picking up his grandmother, when he was 10!!
Here’s Gavy in action. He is #50.
Gavy below, making weight before the game. It was the first time he made weight without having to take off his shoulder pads, and other football gear. He was so happy, and so was #66, taking a peek behind his teammate.
Gavy and yours truly. He’s not taller than me, yet. He’s standing on the bench.
And the following morning, after his game, I took him to Nat’s Cafe so we could enjoy a meal together. He had a semi-healthy breakfast. I won’t lie, the boy has an appetite.
We weighed him later that evening to see if the breakfast had done any damage, but he was fine. He probably just replenished what he had lost during the previous night’s game.
And now I would like to give you my perspective, my personal trainer perspective, on Gavy’s weight loss. I am shocked that he lost the weight to make the team. Yes, I am proud and happy for him, but because my work involves helping people lose weight, and I know how much people struggle in their weight loss endeavours, what he has accomplished is incredible.
Think of all the excuses he could have made to not lose weight. “I’m hungry. This is too hard. I want to drink soda. I want to drink chocolate milk. I want pizza. Water is yucky”, so on and so on. But he made no excuses. He practices hungry, plays his games hungry, and probably goes to bed with less food in his stomach than he would really want and was used to. The boy just does what he has to do. Many people have the knowledge necessary to lose weight, but not everyone applies it. He clearly does apply it.
I don’t know what the future holds for Gavriel, but I believe his future is bright. Not only did he lose weight, and he seems to enjoy sports, he is also smart and likes school. This past summer he graduated from the 5th grade with perfect attendance for the year, and an honors award in math.
So what was the magic formula for his weight loss? There is no magic. No smoke and mirrors here. He was motivated. He cut back on his calories, and started to move much more than he did before. The principles behind his weight loss are simple. It is their application that is the challenge. Simple as that.
Thank you for the inspiration Gavriel.