At just 38 years old, Carlos Orosco was dealing with serious medical problems. He weighed 651 pounds, and had a blood infection that was leading to severe swelling and ulcers in his legs. Doctors warned him that if he didn't do anything to change, he might not make it to his 40s.
After years of weight gain, the Saginaw, Michigan resident decided it was time to change. This week, he appeared on the 3rd hour of TODAY to share his story.
'I didn't think my weight was a problem.'
Being a little over 6 feet tall, Orosco had always been a bigger person. After leaving his parents' home in his late 20s, his weight started "ballooning." With no one there to hold him accountable, he turned to eating and drinking alcohol to make himself feel better.
He didn't think his weight was a problem because he could still participate in sports and perform day-to-day functions. Orosco continued with his unhealthy eating habits, consuming "fried foods, fast foods, breads, soda and alcohol."
At 38, he began experiencing severe pain and swelling from a serious blood infection. Orosco decided it was time to consult a doctor.
"The symptoms only got worse from my weight, and I met with a surgeon to discuss a sleeve gastrectomy," Orosco explained. During a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, about 75% of the stomach is removed. By reducing the size of a person's stomach, it limits the amount of food he or she can consume.
While there for a consultation, Orosco's doctor told him that without making changes to his lifestyle, it was unlikely that he would make it to his early 40s. That comment was the push he needed to schedule the surgery and focus on his health.
Working toward a goal
His surgery was scheduled for six months later, but his surgeon threatened to cancel if Orosco didn't drop 100 pounds within that time frame.
He started working with a dietitian, and focused on replacing bad-for-you foods with healthier options like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
In addition to the changes in his diet, Orosco became more active. He started with three-mile walks around his neighborhood every day, but it wasn't easy.
"The first few months were really tough. I was constantly fighting urges and cried myself to sleep many nights," he said.
In December 2016, after six months of eating healthy and exercising, Orosco weighed 555 pounds. He was only five pounds away from his pre-surgery weight-loss goal of 100 pounds.
"I was disappointed about the last five pounds, but nonetheless went into surgery," he told TODAY.
After the procedure Orosco continued to lose weight, but once he hit 350 pounds, his weight loss seemed to stall until he discovered running.
The joy of running
"I ran my first 5K in honor of a friend who had recently passed away," he said. "I felt so much love and support from the people cheering me on and other runners that I kept at it."
Since then, he's completed 36 races and is now training for his first marathon in October.
Today, Orosco is 42 years old and has lost 450 pounds.
"I finally feel like I'm living my best life," he said. Here, he shares a few tips to help others on their own weight-loss journeys.
1. Seek help when you need it.
"People are there to help," Orosco advised.
Sometimes you just have to look for them, but you never have to face the fight alone.
2. Be patient.
It's as simple as that: Be patient with yourself and with your body. Don't expect to lose weight overnight, but also don't get mad when you don't reach your goals within a certain time frame. If you keep working hard, you'll get there eventually.
3. Don't be discouraged.
"Your current situation never has to be your final destination," said Orosco.
Wherever you are now does not have to be where you'll be in the future.