June 6, 2014

Adventist Who Lost 117 Pounds Inspires His Community

A Florida man who lost 117 pounds (54 kilograms) is inspiring co-workers at
his Adventist university and many others with a story of how his love
for God and his daughter got him in shape.

Kelvin Santana, an employee at Adventist University of
Health Sciences in Orlando, reached a low point in his life two years ago when
he saw his 21-month-old daughter, Arianna, fall on her face on a tile floor at

<strong>BEFORE AND AFTER:</strong> Kelvin Santana, top, when he weighed 320 pounds and today. Photo credit: Southern Tidings

He unsuccessfully struggled to get his 320-pound (145-kilogram) body off
the couch to help her. As he sought to roll over, Santana’s wife, who was eight
months pregnant at the time, rushed in from another room and picked up the girl,
who was unhurt.

“There I was on the floor, sobbing like a child,” Santana
said in an interview published in the June issue of Southern Tidings, the official magazine for the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day

Santana thought to himself, “How did I get to this point
that I couldn’t even pick up my daughter to console her? My family doesn’t
deserve someone in my condition.”

Santana resolved at that moment to start making changes. He
began by playing basketball once a week and later joined a local gym, he told a
weight-loss publication in April. He also modified his eating habits.

He eventually adopted a new morning routine that has become
his lifestyle: He wakes up at 5 a.m. to worship and meditate on a single Bible
verse, exercises as hard as he can at the gym, and then goes to Adventist University
of Health Sciences, where he has worked for the past four years.

“I have definitely seen God’s hand play a huge part in all
of my success,” he said.

Santana has participated in various competitions, including finishing
three 5-kilometer events, and won a weight-loss contest that awarded a cash
prize and a feature article in a magazine.

With the loss of 117 pounds, Santana has gone from a pant
size 56 to 34, lost 35 percent of his body fat, and gained 23 pounds of muscle.

Jennifer Galeana, who works with Santana at Adventist University
of Health Sciences, said many people are inspired by Santana’s weight loss and
feel encouraged to take control of their own health.

“Seeing where he was before and where he is now has proven
to other staff members that this is something anyone can do as long as they
commit,” ” she told Southern Tidings.

Santana, now the father of two girls, said he encourages people
who hear his story to “ask God to guide your footsteps and help you find your

For him, his elder daughter, now 4, is a big part of the
“why” in his life.

Through the months as he struggled to lose weight, “I would
tell her every day that I would be her hero and if she ever fell again, I would
be there to catch her,” he said.