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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Two Cuba-born Gators learn how to chomp less, lose weight

<p>Garit twins Luis, left, and Jorge, right, sit on a bench south of Marston Science Library. The brothers, originally from Cuba, together lost 200 pounds in a little less than a year.</p>

Garit twins Luis, left, and Jorge, right, sit on a bench south of Marston Science Library. The brothers, originally from Cuba, together lost 200 pounds in a little less than a year.

There is a lot less to Luis and Jorge Garit than there used to be, and they’re OK with that.

What makes them stand out isn’t their boisterous personalities or nearly identical faces, although they’re certainly attention grabbers. The boys lost almost half their total body weight in one year.

Luis and Jorge Garit, both 18-year-old civil engineering freshmen, are fraternal twins who were born in Havana, Cuba.

They were almost like all the other little boys their age, except they each weighed about 100 pounds more.

At about 6 years old, they flew to the United States and started a new life in Miami. At 7 years old, the twins started to gain weight.

“I never ate unhealthy,” Luis Garit said. “I just ate a lot.”

As the twins started second grade, they said, they began to notice they were larger than most of their classmates.

“I wasn’t the only fat kid then,” Jorge Garit said, with a smile. “Another kid weighed 130 pounds, so I felt good.”

To the brothers, everything in America was new, and there were many different kinds of food to try.

“My parents would just buy food … chips, desserts and soda,” Luis Garit said. “My brother and I would eat a family-sized cereal in two days.”

By the time they were 15 years old, the brothers each weighed more than 230 pounds. Not long after, a doctor told them they suffered from high cholesterol levels and high blood pressures.

“It was September 17, 2010,” Jorge Garit said, “I still remember the exact day.”

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The boys had two options, the doctor said: Start taking medication or lose weight.

“I didn’t have low self-esteem when I was fat. I just had to live with it,” Jorge Garit said. “I felt ashamed, and I still do — ashamed that I let myself become that.”

Their mom started to cook without salt and bought a treadmill for the twins to jog 30 minutes a day. They were lucky if their mom allowed them to eat a cup of beans once a week.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, they stepped on a scale to see how much progress they made.

“It was worth it to weigh myself and see that one to two pounds were gone,” Luis Garit said.

The twins went from size 42 waists to size 30. Shirt sizes dropped from extra-extra-larges to smalls.

Now, they watch their calorie intakes and eat smaller portions. During their journey, the twins said, they realized the weight loss didn’t just change their physical appearances; it changed how they viewed themselves.

“I felt like they still saw me as the fat kid,” Luis Garit said, sighing. “Even though I lost all the weight, I was still the one fat kid in their eyes.”

Although they occasionally still struggle with how they view themselves, the twins said they know they’ve made the right decision.

They both keep thumb-size pictures of their former selves in their wallets to remind them never to go back to how they used to be.

“It feels great to go shopping and actually find clothes your size,” Luis Garit said.

Garit twins Luis, left, and Jorge, right, sit on a bench south of Marston Science Library. The brothers, originally from Cuba, together lost 200 pounds in a little less than a year.

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