Weight-loss competitor nears 50-pound goal (Video)

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Aug. 14, 2012 at 3:14 a.m.
Updated Aug. 15, 2012 at 3:15 a.m.

Reuben Ybarra, of Victoria, a participant in the Slim Down Show Down, exercises during the midpoint weigh-in with the other contestants.

Reuben Ybarra, of Victoria, a participant in the Slim Down Show Down, exercises during the midpoint weigh-in with the other contestants.

SAN ANTONIO - Reuben Ybarra stands in front of the mirror and sometimes still sees the same man he saw nine weeks ago.

He sees a 46-year-old, 343-pound man. But others see a man who has lost nearly 50 pounds by simply eating right and exercising.

Ybarra completed his mid-way weigh in with the H-E-B Slimdown Showdown in San Antonio on Friday. He weighed 296 pounds, a feat, he said, would have satisfied him at his final weigh in.

"I didn't think I'd be here this fast," Ybarra said. "I was hoping I would get here, though."

The road to weight loss

To get to this point, Ybarra had to give up his one true love, pastries.

It was no to the sweet tooth, and yes to the healthier sweet tooth.

The first week of changing some eating habits and getting used to exercising was a bit difficult, but soon after, it felt natural.

Ybarra was given a 1,850-calorie a day intake cap, but he does not even get close to reaching that.

"On most diets, I feel like I'm depriving myself," he said. "This just hasn't been that way."

Ybarra has been doing plenty of zumba, water zumba and light jogging and walking. He's even doing weight training.

The past weeks have gone by fast. Ybarra said he has not had much trouble from outside influences.

His partner, Jasper Pino, frequently performs at the 77901 wine bar.

Rather than drinking alcoholic drinks, Ybarra has water with a twist of lime and pretzels.

His social circle of friends has not changed in the least.

"This is a lifetime journey," Ybarra said.

The support Ybarra has received is overwhelming, he said. Not only does he have the support from friends and family, but some have also joined him on his journey.

So far, Ybarra's biggest hurdle has been the week he took off from working out because of his sciatic nerve.

Right now, Ybarra said he feels unstoppable.

"What keeps me going is the emails, calls and the daily text messages," Ybarra said. "None of the workout has been a struggle at all, and I'm glad because that keeps me going."

A new Reuben

Ybarra walked into the H-E-B headquarters, head held high, orange shirt on his back - a bit more loose now.

"How are you doing," he said to one of the other 24 competitors. "You look great."

Ybarra saw where some of the other competitors are, and was proud of each. He's also realized he is one of the biggest losers so far.

Still, he doesn't want to get his hopes up about winning the competition, because in his eyes, he's already won his life back.

Ybarra mingled with the 24 other competitors over breakfast and was weighed in and given his stats.

He was proud to see his triglycerides have decreased, as well as his blood pressure and cholesterol.

Of course, his weight and body mass index went down as well.

He and others celebrated as Kate Rogers, H-E-B's vice president of communication and culture, took to the podium.

"This competition is not about the scale," she said. "It's about the rest of your life."

Men and women dressed in their colorful Biggest Loser-type shirts, shared stories of their successes and struggles.

One binged, while another is now off his diabetes medication.

Their morning support group talk led to meeting NBC "Biggest Loser" Season 11 finalist Hannah Curlee. Curlee, who lost 120 pounds, spoke about finding success in weight loss.

She even got down and dirty with the 25 competitors in a pre-lunch workout in a quad area of the headquarters.

"So, who's going to win the competition," Curlee asked.

"I am," several cheered, throwing their hands up after her presentation.

Ybarra said he won't do anything differently these next eight weeks. He is not going to push himself and burn himself out when there has been nothing wrong with how he's been going about it.

He has a new goal for the final Oct. 7 weigh-in - he wants to lose 50 more pounds to make his total weight loss 100 pounds.

Of course, Ybarra is going to apply what he has learned in the competition to his life. He wants to maintain his weight between 185 and 200 pounds.

He hopes to win, but said whoever wins must really deserve it.

"In the end, it is a competition," Ybarra said. "We're not going to turn down 10 grand."



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