Gary Martinez’s Story:
My weight loss journey has been a long road, but well worth the battle. I grew up having an active childhood, but quickly grew into my body along with some extra weight that was a struggle to keep off. I played football through high school, my first couple seasons were as a lineman because of my size. Going into my Junior season I had my heart set on being a middle linebacker and took my training seriously at that point. I had shed my weight to low/mid 160's but lacked muscle and strength due to increased cardio training to shed me excess fat. That following season I took it upon myself to supplement my training with steroids, which would later on catch up with my health and heart. I continued strenuous cardio workouts along with my strength training. I bulked up to a solid 195lbs and felt heavier than I did when I was overweight. When I came off steroids going into college I quickly gained my excess weight back and added even more weight as time went on. I went back and forth losing weight, but when I didn't see the same results I had while using supplementation, I quickly lost hope and gained my weight back. I allowed my weight and appearance to take me into depression which only brought on more unwanted weight and lack of confidence.
In 2007 I was at my peak weight just over 260lbs and realized something in my life needed to change. I had a 2 year old daughter and refused to allow her to see me in this condition as she grew up. February of 2007 I walked into the DC Village and joined. I took full advantage of all the amenities the Village had to offer, slowly dropping my weight to the low 220's. Struggling mentally and physically to continue my weight loss, I decided to partner with a trainer. I met with Dr. Michael Nelson, who in my experience and I know many of his clients would agree is not only a great trainer, but one of our greatest friends. Immediately after our consultation I quickly gained a great rapport with him. We began training twice a week focused on cardio, core and strength training. He would take it upon himself to check up with me throughout the week by text or phone call to see if I was eating right and maintaining my training outside of our sessions, he is dedicated to his clients goals which is not easy to find in trainers these days. My first 3 months were excruciating workouts, he pushed me to my limits and I took full advantage of his training techniques and motivation to lose the weight and gain back the strength I once had. During this time he introduced me to a fellow Village member and client of his Mrs. April Feldman, not knowing she would become one of my best friends to this day. She took time out of her own schedule to teach me jump rope techniques that would eventually save my life. I quickly grew a liking to cardio training through jump rope, slowly building up my cardio endurance from 10 to 15 minutes up to 90 minutes of straight jump rope. After about 6 months of training with Michael and continuing my jump rope (about 5 hour long jump rope sessions a week) I dropped from 220lbs to 175lbs and cut my body fat from 26% to just over 12%.
In December of 2009 I was in the best shape of my life weighting about 170lbs and 11% body fat. On Sunday December 20, 2009 I started to experience abnormal heart rhythms which I thought at the time was a lack of iron in my diet. My heart rate would spike to the 160's bpm and would cause me to blackout for about 15 to 20 seconds before snapping out of it. This was happening about every 3 to 4 hours throughout the day. By Monday the same symptoms were occurring about every 2 hours and by Tuesday every hour. Tuesday night on December 22, 2009 I was heading home in the evening and started to experience a sharp pain in left arm and became very nauseas. I was a block away from Scottsdale Shea Hospital and decided at that point something was not right. I went to check myself in to the Emergency Room and within minutes of having a ECG done the doctors immediately took me in for observation. By this point the symptoms were occurring every 3 minutes or so... The doctor who was working with me was able to see my heart rate spike while lying in the hospital bed. We ran through the symptoms I had been experiencing for 3 days now, all while being able to see the heart rate spike during our conversation. The third time my heart rate spiked while laying down the doctor immediately walked to the door and yelled "Code Blue". I felt as if everything was in slow motion at that point... No one knew I was at the hospital and I had no idea what was happening with my heart. I was 27 years old and in tip top shape going into what they classified as Ventricular Tachycardia or V-Tech. Basically one of the chambers in my heart was beating too fast to refill the other chamber in my heart that got blood to my brain which caused me to blackout. After the doctor had call "Code Blue" about 8 nurses rushed the room ripping off my gown and placing shock pads on my chest while rushing me to an operating room. They immediately administered a dose of medication to bring down my heart rate, which should have taken place within 15 minutes but took over an hour. Once my heart rate was regulated the doctors ordered an Ultrasound to see the structure of my heart. The cardiologists came to visit with me after the results came back and had informed me that my heart was in great structure, his exact words were "your heart is as strong as an ox." The cardiologist continued to tell me that he has not experienced a client going through V-Tech for three days and told me that I should have not woken up on Monday because of this. He explained that because of the cardio strength of my heart it was kicking itself out of V-Tech, which he was unable to understand how. He then told me something that would forever change my life, "your work here is not done Son..." I went through a series of tests over the next couple days, a MRI of my heart, an angiogram test that would prove I had no blockage in my main arteries but would have deteriorated my branch arteries to less than half their original size and an electrophysiology test that was administered to simulate a heart attack so that they can reset my heart rhythms. After all the test the cardiologist diagnosed me with Coronary Artery Disease which would be treated with medication, checkups and a healthy life style. They concluded that my use of steroids was a main contributing factor along with my drastic weight fluctuations over time had caused stress on my heart that would eventually cause me to go into V-Tech. On Christmas Eve I had a visit at the hospital from Michael Nelson, which goes to show the type of character and friendship that he and I have built over the past year. I believe that without meeting him and being introduced to April, I may not have made it through the scariest situation of my life. I was released from the hospital Christmas day.
I strongly believe that if I had not joined the Village, which was a huge factor in changing my lifestyle, I would not be here to share my story. The mentoring that Michael has given me over the years and continued training efforts has kept me healthier than ever and has made our friendship one that will last for a lifetime. As of this year I have lost a total of over 85lbs, maintain my body fat around 10% and my strength is back to where it was when playing football since I joined the Village. Being a member at the Village has been a blessing and will continue to be so for many years to come!
- Gary Martinez