Dropping LBs: Gerry Ruiz of Hicksville

Gerry Ruiz says he was addicted to food,

Gerry Ruiz says he was addicted to food, drugs, alcohol and had a four-pack-a-day cigarette habit. He eventually kicked drugs and alcohol, but kept eating uncontrollably. It was his wife's diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2002 that was the turning point in his life. (Credit: Handout ; Karen Wiles Stabile)

Gerry Ruiz

52, Hicksville

Occupation Drug treatment director at state-run facility

Height 6 feet tall

360 Weight before: 1993

160 Weight after March: 2012

 

HIS STORY

Gerry Ruiz was fat for much of his life. "I had a 42-inch waist in the sixth grade," Ruiz says. He eventually became addicted to food, drugs, alcohol and had a four-pack-a-day cigarette habit.

He did try losing weight, dropping 200 pounds in 18 months when he went into rehab in 1985. He kicked drugs and alcohol, but kept eating uncontrollably. During a six-year period he put back all the weight he'd lost in rehab.

"I kept eating," says Ruiz.

It was his wife's diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2002 that was the turning point in his life. "I realized that I could be a single parent and I had to take care of myself for my son," Ruiz remembers. (Today, through treatment, his wife is cancer-free.)

At the suggestion of a co-worker, Ruiz began to change things for himself. "He told me that if I wanted to lose weight, get healthy and eat whatever I wanted, I had to take up running," Ruiz remembers. He went to the track the very next day and has since completed 30 marathons.

DIET

After all those years of overeating, Ruiz says he now sees food strictly as fuel for his runs, eating carbs only when he's preparing for a marathon. "I eat lots of vegetables, take lots of vitamins and eat lots of proteins." His one indulgence: chocolate at the movies.

EXERCISE

Ruiz runs 6 to 10 miles a day. He also takes a 45-minute spincycle class three times a week. "I throw myself into exercise the same way I threw myself into addiction," he says.

ADVICE

"The hardest part is getting out the door," he says. "Stop thinking of things to carry you and use your two feet to carry you."

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