Fat chance – Beating back obesity

For years, Eric Carltock woke up and went to work, where he would sit in front of a computer all day. On his way home, he would stop by Del Taco and pick up dinner. Once home, he would sit on the couch, eat, and vegetate in front of the TV.

Last June, Carltock, now 30, decided to get off the couch. Now he wakes up every morning to work out for about two hours. He avoids fast food and stays active all day. It sounds easy, but after standing up for years with 300 pounds pulling him down, this was a life-changing decision.

“A lot of people try to start working out but get discouraged when they don’t see results,” said Carltock, an art major at SAC. “It’s not easy, but if you really want it, it will definitely pay off.”
Because of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, coupled with the availability of cheap and fatty fast food, Americans are some of the fattest people on the planet.

About 72 million residents of the U.S. are obese, a number reaching epidemic proportions. Obesity raises the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and other health conditions.

Carltock, who was skinny as a youth, started suffering from back problems caused by the increased body weight he was carrying. A painful sciatic nerve that had been aligned twice, and a gut feeling that his cholesterol levels were dangerously high, motivated him to get off the couch and back into the gym.

“I just realized I was way too big,” said Carltock. “I felt like I needed to change, so I made up my mind.”

Munching on chips and sweet treats, and drinking soda while sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day, led to his weight gain, which, like many Americans, crept up on him.

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One day he woke up feeling heavy; his back felt like a bowling ball had been dropped on it as he slept.  He was a physical wreck. He was fat.

Often the excuse for fast food consumption is that it is everywhere, quick, portable and cheap.

But that’s nonsense, Carltock said.  There’s no excuses for those who want to lead a healthier lifestyle, he said.

Now the trim 6-foot-4-inch Carltock loads up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmer’s market. “I traded off the old junk I used to eat for healthier foods. I also supplement my diet with protein shakes.”

Losing weight, however, takes motivation.

Lots of it, Carltock said.

Like the good student he is, he did his homework — finding the right diet, and a great place to work out, for cheap, so he enrolled in Santa Ana College’s exercise and fitness classes.

“24 Hour Fitness has nothing on the classes offered here at SAC. They’re only $26 for an entire semester, plus the professors are really great,” said Carltock. “If you don’t have a lot of money and you want to work out, SAC is the place to go.”

Xiomara Duenas, a student at SAC who took Darcy Tyler’s class with Carltock, said she has also lost 40 pounds.

“It’s easier when you have someone to socialize with because you can share your experiences with them,” said Duenas.

With a newfound health and confidence, Carltock has the energy to dance the salsa every Friday night. He is also dating again.

BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 72 – Millions of Americans who are obese
  • 100 – Total pounds Carltock lost
  • $26 – An entire semester’s worth of fitness classes at SAC

Photo insert of Eric before he lost 100 pounds, and Eric Carltock smiling while playing his guitar now.
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