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Special Report: 'Digital Trainer'

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 7:25am

UPDATED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 8:55am

Many in El Paso are trying to lose some weight the old-fashioned way, but what is motivating them to stay focused has changed.

Roger Vasquez, 19, is battling obesity, and has been since he was 12.

"The path to getting heavy is easy. All you have to do really is just eat," said Vasquez.

Year after year, he got heavier and heavier, ultimately weighing in at 450 lbs. back in May.

However, one event in his life made him push away his plate.

"Once my friend's father passed away, it was an eye-opener because that did make me want to have a family," he said.

While he was offered the option of bariatric surgery, Roger decided to turn to traditional diet and exercise.

He wakes up at 5 a.m. almost every morning and drives half an hour to Sunland Park Fitness, 1989 Victory Lane, to meet with his personal trainer, Hazael Dominguez.

For the next 45 minutes, he is at Dominguez's mercy.

"I don't cut him breaks. Somebody that is dealing with that much weight basically has no more opportunity. There is no more leeway for error," said Dominguez.

For Vasquez, he was surprised at what happened once he began working out. Some of his closest friends, who are also obese, weren't on board with his new lifestyle, he said.
"It's pretty sad because now that I'm working out, some of them are giving me problems. (They are) telling me that 'Oh you're losing your identity,' or 'You're not being considerate of us."

That's why his trainer, Hazael Dominguez, is having him turn to is smart phone, and social media.

"Facebook: one of the things I do mandatory with him is he puts pictures of his meals," said Dominguez.

Every breakfast, every lunch, every dinner, and every snack is all posted online for everyone to see and comment.

Roger is not alone, when it comes to plastering his fitness all over Facebook.

The social meda site compiled data, released this month, of the cities with the most fitness-related status updates, check-ins at the gym, and the use of fitness apps, and ranked El Paso Facebook's 7th "Fittest" city in the nation.

Facebook representatives would not release any more specific information related to the findings, but the data says more about El Paso's need for motivation than actual fitness, according to University of Texas at El Paso Kinesiology Assoc. Professor Sandor Dorgo.

"It's more of the psychological and psycho-social aspects of physical fitness and exercise, rather than the exercise itself," Dorgo said.

Dorgo says many El Pasoans may be like Roger, those who have not been active their entire lives, and who need motivation.

"It is very difficult for those individuals to become physically active and remain physically active," said Dorgo.

"So if I post, 'Hey, I feel like cheating today,' they remind me not to do it," said Vasquez.

It appears to be working.

Roger is not just posting his meals online, but even pictures of himself and the numbers on the scale.

Since starting his new lifestyle, both in person and in the digital world, that number has been going lower and lower.

So far, he has lost 35 pounds.

"I do have a lot more energy, I feel lighter," said Vasquez. "I'm just enjoying a lot more of my life, and I can't wait for more to come."

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Thank you for posting my story and I want to thank the city of el paso for all the love on facebook

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