In late 2006 while at work, one of my co-workers approached me and asked if I were interested in joining a contest called " who's the biggest loser?". My co-worker , in his forties, but obviously out of shape (he was fat just like me at the time) explained to me that everybody who entered the game bets $50 and the winner wins all the pot. The catch, the winner would be the one who lost the most pounds percentage wise during the holiday season.Every contestant would be weighed at the beginning, and after the new year, would be weighed again to determine the winner. About 10 of us joined the contest.
It was an eye opener for me. I never thought anybody would consider me to join a fat men contest. I thought I was just alright. I thought I was just big boned. In reality though, carrying 220 lbs. weight in my 5'9'' frame was taking its toll on my body. My waist line was at 40 plus, my knees were hurting, and constantly, I suffered from arthritis in every joint of my body. My doctor advised me to go on a diet to control my high blood sugar level , high blood pressure and arthritis. I never consistently followed my doctor's advise. At first, I thought my co-worker was joking. Then, when I realized he was not, I felt bad and depressed. That afternoon, when I got home from work, I went to the washroom, undressed (he he, not a pleasant sight) and without sucking in my big belly as I was used to do, looked at myself in the mirror. God, I was fat!
Of course I lost my fifty bucks. Do you know of any Pinoy or Pinay who lost weight during the Christmas season? I was one of a few. I lost a measly 2 lbs total, even with forcing myself to control eating too much. I tried (sometimes) removing the fat from the crunchy balat ng lechon or just reducing my consumption of fruit salad or all the home made puto brought by friends and relatives. And the kare kare, ham, turkey, etc., I tried to avoid to no avail.
And then enter my co-worker Monty at this critical period of my life. He just turned forty, around 5'8", 230 lbs., with thick football player like body frame. I overheard him talking to another co-worker about joining the Law Enforcement Games, particularly in the middle distance races. I found out later that he competed in the 5k and 10 k running events. I also learned later that as a young man he was a champion wrestler , actually completed a couple of full marathons and consistently over the years, had run middle distance road races.
One day, Monty suggested to me that I join him to run a 5k race . Of course, I said no initially, making all kinds of excuses, my knees were bad, too old for running, arthritis. This went on for a while, Monty persistently cajoling me into running with him, until one day I said to him, ok, I'd give it a try. We ran the 5k fun run at the opening of the Vaughn Runningroom store, with him finishing , if I remember right in about 25 minutes. I crossed the finish line in 38 minutes.
From then on we became running buddies, as we ran a few more 5k races together.We did some training runs after work in the park just behind our workplace and the trails along the Don River . Encouraged and motivated, I joined the Runningroom clinic in April 2007 as I looked ahead to run races longer than 5k. Then, Monty busted his achilles tendon in one pick up basketball game. He underwent surgery and was off for almost a year while I continued progressing into running longer distances. When he returned to work, he walked limping, obviously favoring the injured foot. He told me that he didn't even know if he could ever run again.
Whenever I look at my past and the people I have met, there are some who stand out in that one way or another they have changed or influenced me in a positive way and made me a better person. Monty is one of them. He was an inspiration and a great motivator. He encouraged me to try running and once I did it with him, I fell in love with the sport and then there was no turning back. I lost most of the unwanted weight, the arthritis, the hypertension all but disappeared and overall, I feel good about myself. There is no day now when I don't think of my next run .
On Sunday, April 29, Monty (my mentor), some close friends from work and I are running the Legacy Markham/Stouffville Hospital 5K Run in my hometown of Markham, Ontario to raise funds for the hospital. After the race, we'll have a barbecue at my place which is only about a 10 minute drive from the hospital, where the race is going to start and end. It promises to be another memorable and enjoyable day to share with family and friends.