TAMPA — It all came to a head on the day Danny Alvarez needed a tuxedo for his son’s graduation.
It was going to be a big day and Alvarez, the proud father, wanted to look his best.
Trouble was, he couldn’t find one that fit. Alvarez had grown to more than 500 pounds. No one in the Tampa area could accommodate him.
Then there was the time he was at Tampa International Airport and his children asked if he could be weighed on the scales. No way, they were told – the scales went up to only 300 pounds.
That was six years ago, and Alvarez decided it was time to get rid of some of that weight. He started working out at the Northwest Hillsborough YMCA and, little by little, the pounds started to disappear. Sure, it was a very slow process, but Alvarez had a game plan.
A pound a week.
He didn’t plan to do it all at once. Just that one pound. Fifty-two pounds in a year. That’s all that he was looking for.
So he started to, literally, walk the walk. He started walking mile after mile every day. Then he started to swim at the YMCA every day. And, sure enough, he started to watch the pounds melt away.
Now, after six years of walking and swimming and eating right, the former 500-pound man can now easily find a tuxedo that fits. He’s gone from a size 54 waist to a size 34, and is proud of what he has done.
Needless to say, Alvarez, a native of Puerto Rico, is a regular at the Northwest YMCA. He greets everyone with a smile and a laugh, and he tries to share his secrets with anyone who wants to listen. For those who would rather read about his secrets, he recently had his first book published. “I Don’t Care What You Eat … I’ll Tell You What I Did,” explains his methods of losing weight while giving life lessons at the same time.
“I went from 500 pounds to 185,” Alvarez said. “I remember not being able to get a tux on a really important day. I remember that day at the airport. Losing weight is all in your mind. It really isn’t all about exercise, it’s all in the mind. God gives you a certain amount of calories. You can eat them and not worry about what you are eating. Just work it off. I walk 20 miles a day sometimes, depending on what I eat. You don’t need to spend all day in the gym, just work off as many calories as you put on.”
Alvarez said he simply wants to spread the message to others that obesity is something that can be fixed, one pound a week.
“I have a message to spread and that is that there is a lot of misinformation out there,” Alvarez said. “Nine out of 10 people fail in their attempt to lose weight. Here’s why: The biggest mistake is to change your habits in eating. There’s no need to change your diet. You have to eat smart, but there’s nothing wrong with eating what you want as long as you work it off.”
Alvarez considers himself to have a master’s degree in helping people and a doctorate in loving people. He spreads the word, not only through his book, but also through motivational speeches. He believes that, after reaching the 500-pound mark, he was able to change things through an act of God.
“I am a miracle,” Alvarez said. “I could have had diabetes, cholesterol and I never had them. It’s a miracle that I am alive.”
He had his share of doubters when he decided to lose weight, but he ignored them.
“Being obese is an option,” Alvarez said. “You can eat as unhealthy as you want if you can burn the calories. It really is not that hard. Do you eat every day? Yes. Do you sleep every day? Yes. Do you exercise every day? It needs to be a habit. It is all psychological.”
Alvarez can fit into any tuxedo and he’s never asked to get onto a scale at the airport. He smiles when he talks about his struggles in the past, but he’s happy with himself. When it comes to people, the 185-pound Alvarez still has as big a heart as the 500-pound Alvarez did — and he wants to share all of it.
To order Alvarez’s book, check www.xlibris.com.