fit to be gold: Alejandro Diaz

AGE: 51


HOMETOWN: San Juan, Puerto Rico

STARTING WEIGHT: 336.6 pounds


WHY PARTICIPATE? "Because I was borderline diabetic. To prove to my son and my daughter that we can lose weight doing exercise and diet, not a magic operation or any gastric bypass. I would like to teach them that we can do it by exercise and eating right."

HAVE YOU TRIED TO LOSE WEIGHT IN THE PAST? "I've tried to lose weight, but normally I gain it back. My problem is not in the diet part, it's afterwards. I gain very fast. I've tried Weight Watchers, all the fad diets. But this time I'm doing the gym part. Normally I don't do the gym, I do the diet alone. So hopefully this will work better."

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? "My biggest challenge will be after I finish and get my weight (down), to keep the weight (down). I think I'm pretty focused on the diet and exercise but when I get loose, it's very hard to keep it off. I feel like I'm at the right weight, I don't need it, I can eat anything I want. I will plan to keep with the gym and use it regularly. I think the gym part will make a difference."

IS IT HARD TO STAY MOTIVATED? "No. I'm pretty focused on the diet and the exercise. I don't have too much problem staying motivated; again it's the end part. Normally when I get close to the goal, I also go ahead and stop. I want to get to the goal this time. I want to finish my weight goal, to be less than 300 pounds."

HOW WILL YOUR LIFE CHANGE AFTER THE COMPETITION IS OVER? "I will be more healthy. I'm more active than before to follow my family's activities. I will look nicer in a bathing suit."

WHAT IS YOUR REGIMEN? "I go to North Augusta. I do Body Pump, Body Combat or RPM every day. I'm working every day, some days twice a day. If I don't go to the classes in North Augusta, I come to (the Augusta location) at 6 a.m."

FAVORITE FOOD: "Rice and beans. That's typical food in Puerto Rico. Rice and beans and any kind of meat."

THE DIET: "I'm doing high protein, low carb. I'm just trying to keep very low carbs, good protein. I include fruit. And high protein yogurt. Three meals and three snacks. I'm not hungry at all."

Weight isn't everything

If you are exercising to lose weight, it is important to keep weight in context and perhaps use other measures to help you gauge your progress.

Always ask, "How are my clothes fitting?"

If the clothes are looser or fit better, that's a good indication you are making progress. Sometimes getting more toned means adding muscle, and perhaps weight, particularly in women. Going by appearance is also a better gauge than just weight alone.

Source: Jeff Poole, exercise specialist at University Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute

Challenge update

Contestants weighed in Monday night with Sterling Herrington in the lead. He's lost 45 pounds and 12.47 percent of body fat since the contest began Feb. 28.

No one was eliminated because health issues caused two contestants to retain water weight, which skewed their results. Contestant Lisa Dillingham has dropped out of the competition.

The next weigh-in will be the final results. It will take place at 6 p.m. May 23 at Gold's Gym, 596 Bobby Jones Expressway.