A New Year, a New Me

A side by side photo of the author.
My change in 9 months.

2010 was quite a transformational year for me.  I began the year off as many folks did, with New Year’s Resolutions that quite frankly I was not sure I was going to keep.  I had normally been one of those people who “resolved not to make resolutions” which was easy enough to keep through lethargy.  Last year, however, with the prospect of turning 40, I decided to get fit.  There was a “Biggest Loser Challenge”, and I was very committed to win that – but I also wanted to get healthy.

As I’ve described in various posts before, I decided to quit smoking (even though I was a “social smoker”), eat healthier and be much more careful about the type of food I permit myself to eat, and exercise a whole lot more.  I figured by doing these three things (and by extension, somehow, a fourth of drastically reducing my alcohol intake), I would get healthy and fit, and also lose weight.  I was right on all counts but I didn’t expect the consequence and the benefits that go along with it.  The consequence is that all those annoying health-nut people are right, and I’m now one of them.  The benefits are, unfortunately, what the health-nuts preach about:  better sleep, better breathing,less illness, drastically more energy, and the ability to do anything you put your mind to.  We’re annoying and correct, all at the same time!!!

The Biggest Loser participants

Biggest Loser Challenge

Like many, many bloggers, I’ve failed to keep my blog updated.  I think this happens with most amateur bloggers, but no matter. I certainly owe all 3 of you who will read this the courtesy of an update.  And I would encourage comments –  I love, as most bloggers do, when people actually comment on my blog. However this blog all started due to the contest, so the very least I could do is update you on the results.

When I started the blog I had just embarked on a “Biggest Loser”-style challenge with five colleagues at the firm I worked at.  The contest was going to last 6 months, and by June 30, 2010, I had lost more weight than anyone else in the competition.  I had in fact set myself a goal to lose 60 pounds by June 30, and I had lost 67 on the day of the final weigh-in.  That fact was not enough, however – like the real contest, we were judging things by percentage of total body weight, and as a result I came in second by about 0.5%. I wasn’t really bitter, as the big winner was the Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade, for whom we raised over $1,700, and with a matching donation by my company, the total was nearly $3,500.  We all felt really quite proud of the result – even if we have yet to have our reward dinner of sushi and sake!

Continued Work

The end of the contest was simply the mark of my half way goal.  I set a new goal of total weight loss of 85 lbs by December 31, 2010, and set that part way through the year – when I realized that high-minded goal might in fact be achievable.  I continued running 5k three times per week, and continued playing badminton three times per week.  I continued to eat well and watch carefully the foods I allowed myself to eat, and the weight kept coming off.  I am very pleased to say that I managed to hit that goal, three months early.  I was done on September 30, 2010.  I’ve since lost another 5 pounds, and have successfully kept it off, even through Thanksgiving, my 40th birthday, and the holidays.  I’m proud to say that as of January 1, 2011, I’m working on keeping it off, and doing it simply.

Goals for 2011

Compared to my goals for 2010, my goals for 2011 are downright modest.  I’m looking to increase the distance I run a bit – perhaps by 2-3k at most – and I’m looking to tone, tighten and shape my new body.  I am now happy to have a lean runner’s physique, but I think I need to work a bit to get my upper body as toned as my lower body.  I plan to stay at the same weight, and I plan to make well thought out, healthy food choices.  Simple?  Yes.  Achievable? Yes.  But it will still take quite a bit of work!

The nice part is that I’ve made all the really tough choices before.  It is easy for me to make those choices now – it was much harder last year. To think about it, the hardest part of the whole thing was “educating myself about food” (blech!).  It’s FOOD.  I ate at least three times per day, and in quite a big volume.  What education did I need?  Pheh.  Well, it turns out I needed quite a lot.  I ate incredibly poorly, made poor choices when I figured no one else cared, and had got to be a Big Man.  Now that I have learned most of what I need (there will always be more), I can make those choices much quicker.

CBC’s Here and Now

One of the most interesting things that happened to me actually occurred on New Year’s Day, 2011.  I was contacted by an old friend, Marichka Melnyk, the producer of CBC Radio Toronto’s afternoon drive show Here and Now.  They were looking to interview someone about resolutions, and about keeping them, and Marichka had followed my progress on Facebook.  They were even starting their own health panel in conjunction with the CBC’s Live Right Now campaign. She asked if I was willing to be interviewed, and in very short order I agreed to an interview on January 4, 2010. It was quite a lot of fun and I was able to be in the studio, which was a great experience.  Thanks again to all.


The thing I find most amazing is how many people have felt inspired by my story and my change.  People I know from across the country have followed my progress – not one has complained about the incessant and automatic updates from the running software on my BlackBerry – and many of them have been inspired to get off the couch.  One very good friend of mine has found his own path to lose over 40 pounds, and several others have started running at my suggestion.  I never expected anyone to really comment on it other than to notice there was less of me than before – but they do.  (One of the greatest complements was actually paid to me by Marichka – she said I look exactly like I did in highschool, and that felt awesome.)

The number of people who have come forward has been incredible.  People are actually not tired of hearing the story – it feels like it’s because it is someone they know, that they really want to believe they can do it to.  Well they can, and you can.  I encourage you to do so.  The only inspiration I had was, truly, to not look like my own photographs any more.  If that sounds even vaguely familiar, I like my photos now, and you can as well.  Here is my advice:

  1. DECIDE. You don’t need to “be ready”.  You have to cut with any other possibility than to get healthy.
  2. Educate yourself about food, and stop eating like you are 19.  Be an adult and give up the deep-fried stuff, at least.  Eat MUCH more fruit and vegetables.
  3. Pick something you really like to do – hiking, biking, tennis.  Commit to doing it at least once per week.
  4. Run.  Unless your doctor tells you not to, you can, so consult with them, ask them specifically about running. Then go and do it.   If you can’t run, find an intense cardio workout that you can do for 30 minutes a day, three times per week.

Doing two things, one cardio and one you love, is a key.  I now love both the things I do, but running was originally the permission slip to get back to badminton.

For those that care, I’m going to re-activate my blog.  I’m going to post at least bi-weekly, but aim for weekly.  I will share your stories if you want me to.  I will try as best I can to help to motivate you.  I’m reasonably certain that most people who read it will only be friends, but I thought that maybe this could be a forum where we could talk, answer questions, and help each other reach our goals.

I’m game if you are – there’s nothing for me to lose, given I don’t think anyone reads this right now anyway!

Insurance is my profession, and one of my passions. Motorcyclist, runner, skier, photography newbie. Nerdy tech geek, craft beer enthusiast. Thoughts are my own. Snark is omni-present.

9 thoughts on “A New Year, a New Me

  1. Marty, your story is nothing short of impressive and inspiring! Thanks for sharing, and keep sharing!

    In fact, you have been inspiring me for some time now! I recall a few years back during the ING Edmonton Marathon, you and I were doing the 10K walk, yes walk, not run. I spent the first 6K walking with a broker friend at a reasonable, unfrenetic pace. You passed us at about 4K with a little barbing on your way by – totally expected. At 6K, I could see you about a kilometre ahead of me and said to my walking mate, “There’s no way that I’m gonna let that fat guy beat me in this race!” I set a new pace and passed you at about 8.5K, challenging you to keep up, probably taunted you a bit! You matched pace with me for about 150m, then faded back. By that time, however, my goal now was to finish the race, keeping the pace, and getting a medal that was something better than “participant”. 3rd, buddy! 3rd in my age group (there were only 4, but hey, it’s a podium finish!) So, that’s how you first inspired me. Now, with your wonderful success of weight loss, getting healthy and eating right, you’re inspiring me again. Over the past year, I’ve lost 15 pounds, am much more conscious of what I am eating, and feel better. Thanks, Marty!

  2. Kevin,

    Thanks a ton for the comments, they mean quite a lot. I clearly remember that 10k, I had some friends from ING (then) that I was walking with. I remember that trying to catch you lead to me being quite sore – and that I actually got the gold in my age group.

    I’m actually quite pleased that I had inspired you in 2010, as well. Congrats on your weight loss – that’s awesome! You probably look and feel fantastic!

  3. Thanks for the update Marty! I must say it’s about time 😛 I’m looking forward to our run one day. The #11 haha

    1. Hey Number 1 (1)! Yes, it has been way to long, but there is a renewed committment for me considering how many people I know are excited by what I’ve done.

      One day we will run. Remember I’m not a real long distance runner… 🙂

  4. Very Impressed Martin! You are obviously a much Happier person and setting such a good example for your girls. 🙂

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