On a daily basis, we encounter people from different walks of life. The everyday grind can leave us often exhausted and also indifferent. It can cause us to downplay the importance of each individual that we come across, often dismissing the fact that everyone we meet has a story to tell.
That is true of 21-year-old John Paulo Caparros. Upon first meeting him, you would think that John was your typical millenial—excelling in a coveted communications post in the day and partying through the night, without a care in the world. But in reality, John wasn’t born with the proverbial golden spoon. Despite the fact that his family has thriving businesses in Quezon Province, John opted to pursue his dream of working in the communications industry and supported himself through college by working and studying full-time.
But what strikes me the most about his story is the fact that he overcame his emotional attachment to food, which caused him to balloon to a whopping 150 kilograms. From the outside, it is easy to say that being overweight is caused by not having enough discipline but in reality, it goes deeper than simply wolfing down everything we see in sight.
In a country where obesity is an alarming problem, John’s story reminds us that it all begins within before we overcome anything externally. For John, his fascination with food began when he moved to the United Kingdom to be with his mom who was a nurse, and where he studied for middle school.
Living away from home was a big trigger for John, especially since he found it difficult to cope with a new environment without any friends. “I found comfort in food, good food, from all that was happening around me.”
Before he knew it, he was the biggest he has been and this was when further discrimination and name-calling began. “I was called every name in the book: a pig, a monster, and that I wouldn’t amount to anything.”
This led to depression for John, and for a time, he felt like he wasn’t going to be able to overcome his situation. He felt hopeless and thoughts of ending his life clouded his young mind. But John thankfully got through this dark phase and instead found a way to begin his journey.
Ironically, the defining factor for John was finding confidence in himself even when he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. “In overcoming any challenge, confidence is important. You don’t have to wait for circumstances to change, you have to find what makes you unique and be proud of that.”
This led John to take care of himself better and eventually redirected his dependency on food on something more productive. Instead of eating his sorrows away, John focused on excelling in his job, working out, and growing himself as a person.
Today, John continues to work on losing weight and his self-worth while pursuing a job in the PR industry. The secret, he says, are just three things: “Motivation, even if the process is hard, you can still do it. Discipline is important, know when to stop and when to settle and find an inspiration—who are you doing it for? For me, I do it for my family and that is my continuous inspiration everyday.”
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