Running for His Life

Not too long ago, Santos Reyes weighed 220 pounds and was at risk for Type 2 Diabetes. He is now a long-distance runner who has lost 60 pounds and gained a new family in his teammates.

By Santos J. Reyes, Coachella Unincorporated

I never knew a simple visit to the doctor’s office could change the way I was living my life.

At 220 pounds, I knew I was overweight.  I just didn’t know it was that much of an issue at the time.

As usual, the doctor pointed out I was overweight.  But then he mentioned something I had never heard before: I was at high risk of having Type 2 Diabetes.

Even though diabetes is a big issue in my family and most of my father’s side of the family has diabetes, hearing this news was a shock. There I was, a freshman in high school, at risk of having diabetes.  I knew I had to improve my life, especially knowing what some of the members of my family have going through.

I started to watch what I ate, but most importantly I started to run on the treadmill every night.  I lost 10 pounds, but I was still not satisfied with my physical appearance.

During my sophomore year, my physical education teacher convinced me to join the track team. I was apprehensive at the time, but I figured trying it wouldn’t hurt me. My first day was very nerve-wracking.  I was a “noob” at the time and fitting in was not my forte.

To my surprise, I was welcomed with open arms. Feeling accepted was a feeling I never felt before. At first, I was not the best runner, but my coach and my team motivated me to push myself. Your body is telling you to stop but you know you have to finish what you started.  I became a distance runner and ran the mile and two mile.

Races went by, and my weight started to come off.  I didn’t only gain confidence but I also gained a family in my team.  That summer, I joined the cross country team which is a three-mile race and is more intense.  Running with the same group of people was comforting.  I became a varsity runner, and knowing that made my confidence sky rocket. I improved with every race and created memories with my coaches and teammates.

Joining track and cross country changed my life in many ways.  I learned to never stop and to give it my all until I crossed the finish line. Just as in life, I learned to never give up and always try my best.  I learned to build and maintain a healthy life with the one activity I always resented but now love. In total, I lost 60 pounds and have maintained it until now, my senior year.

Running has not only helped me lose weight and to live and maintain a healthy life, but it has also been my therapy. When I am stressed with life or school, I run and let my thoughts fade.

I am glad I went to that first track practice. It changed my life for good, and I am truly happy. The experience of being part of the track and cross country teams and the memories I have made will be with me forever.

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