Shaunda Shaw & Shineil Taylor
Brianna Ebony Simpson
A year ago, Abraham Gutierrez looked in the mirror and realized that he weighed 300 pounds. The now 18-year-old vowed then and there that he would reach two milestones in 12 months: lose half of himself and graduate from DeKalb Early College Academy. Now, he is proudly reaping the rewards of his hard work and commitment.
Gutierrez has lost 150 pounds, and graduated in May 2013 with a high school diploma and an associate degree from Georgia Perimeter College. DECA is a partnership between DeKalb County Schools and Georgia Perimeter that allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time. Students complete a rigorous and accelerated curriculum in the 9th and 10th grades at the DeKalb Early College Academy and then take college courses at GPC during their junior and senior years.
Gutierrez knew he wanted to lose weight, but also needed a plan that would not interfere with his school schedule. He adopted a raw vegan diet that eliminated all processed foods, meat and dairy. Also, he added moderate exercise to his daily routine. It wasn’t long before he saw progress.
“I tried different diets in the past, but none of them worked,” he says. “Then I started eating all raw food. It was hard, but I saw the results right away. My mother would call Mexico and brag about my weight loss. Everybody was excited for me.”
Gutierrez’s new found lifestyle motivated his overweight parents and brother to change their eating habits, too. “My whole family has lost weight and even changed the way they cook,” he says.
According to Gutierrez, becoming a vegan has helped him decide what he wants do in the future. He transferred to Georgia State University and majors in dietetics. Gutierrez plans to become a registered dietician and open a raw vegan restaurant. Eventually, he hopes to open a gym and a raw vegan bakery.
“The diet changed my life because it helped me develop a passion to help other people gain knowledge about health,” he says. “I want more than anything to help others get as excited as I am about life, health and diet.”