Just after Shayne Baca turned 40, life seemed to deliver one tough hit after another. Over a four-year period, his father died, he got a divorce, his house went into foreclosure, his car was repossessed and he was diagnosed with clinical depression and diabetes. To top it off, a trainer at his gym took him aside and pointed out that Baca’s lower legs looked troublingly dark — a symptom of high blood pressure.
“Every time I felt like I hit rock bottom, it was like I’d fall through to a new, lower rock bottom,” he recalls. “I was drinking heavily, eating terrible food and just struggling. I woke up angry every day.” He gained weight as a result, eventually reaching about 100 pounds more than he wanted.
When Baca went to the doctor, he was so worried about more bad news that he remembers crying when they put the blood pressure cuff on his arm. As a single father to an 11-year-old, he wondered how much longer he’d be around for his son. “I felt like an old man,” he says, “like I didn’t have much more time.”
The doctor’s appointment turned out to be just what he needed to get on a completely different track.
Despite being put on three medications, Baca was assured those were a short-term solution, and his physician urged him to make some long-term changes that would stick. He suggested walking for an hour a day and tracking his food and activity with the MyFitnessPal app.
Something clicked that day, he remembers. The competitive side of him woke up, and he suddenly had the resolve and determination that had been lacking for years. “I realized that people had no idea what I was capable of,” he says. “Maybe I had no idea, either. But I was ready to finally start living a different life.”
The competitive spark caught fire and burned down all those bad eating and drinking habits. He tracked his food religiously and made sure his daily calories either matched his activity output or that he was in a calorie deficit. Eight months later, he had lost the 100 pounds he never intended to gain and was able to go off all three medications.
Just two and a half years after that fateful appointment, Baca is feeling better than ever and has maintained the weight loss — and the determination.
Although his weight doesn’t fluctuate much, he still uses the MFP app every day, recently passing the 1,000-day mark. He feels daily tracking is a solid habit that helps him set new goals related to fitness.
Now, he’s working to build strength and is training for his first bodybuilding competition. He’s told dozens of people about MyFitnessPal and encouraged them to gain the awareness he believes saved his life.
He’s also noticed how much his son, now 14, is more aware of food choices as well, picking healthy options and reading food labels just like dad.
Most of all, Baca feels his life is in his control — happening because of his choices, not just happening to him. His depression and anxiety have lifted, and although he has moments of stress and worry (just like everybody does), he maintains a sense of calm and acceptance.
Baca knows that if he can crawl out of the wreckage of those early 40s and emerge a stronger, healthier, more centered person, he can do anything.
“My message to others would be to recognize when you need help, and then seek it out,” he says. “It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish with just a little push in the right direction.”