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Back in December 2011 my commitment to cycling had survived having two bikes stolen and I had lost 15 pounds while making healthy changes in my eating habits. Sadly, my enthusiasm and commitment were completely trashed when my 16-year old son took his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

I simply had no heart for much of anything after that tragedy and the coup de grace was delivered a few months later when thieves used a cutting torch in the dead of the night to completely disassemble the iron fence inside my gated condo community in order to make off with my wheels again. In truth, I didn't care and my only real priority was to somehow survive the unimaginable blow that had come just six months after my father's funeral.

Needless to say, the wages of caloric sins is fat and I packed on the pounds. In time I did make some attempts to reform myself, but there was always something waiting to derail my best laid plans. I found myself reminded of all the New Years Resolutions I've made over the course of my life only to rarely get through February with any of them intact. Moreover, I was acutely aware of the extremely discouraging statistics that have been collected by a legion of scientific authorities to prove that the vast majority of American dieters will put back on every pound they've lost within a year (and often with more than a few additional ones to boot). I recall one depressing afternoon spent chasing down everything I could find on the "set point theory" of weight gain only to find myself eating a bowl of Hagen-Daz that I didn't even remember getting out of the freezer.

Fortunately for me, my good friend from England, Martyn Cox, had accomplished one of the most remarkable personal transformations that I've ever seen. On his own, the guy had changed from a pasty white pudgy character to an amazingly fit hard body. Furthermore, he had massively improved every measurable index of health as measured in his annual physical checkups. Best of all, he allowed me to follow his daily record from his MyFitnessPal account so that I could see every day what he ate, how he exercised and what his caloric balance was over time. There were no great secrets other than the same mantra of moderation and consistency that my dad used to harp on.



I made it a point to study what Martyn had done to see what lessons I could learn. One thing became very clear to me: he had a true motivation that allowed him to make permanent changes in his lifestyle. That really struck home to me as I recognized that every New Years Resolution, every fad diet and every private pep talk I've had with myself was doomed to fail simply because I did not have a real CORE motivation. Over time I, like almost everybody else, would become distracted, disheartened and defiant so that any progress made would disappear in a sack of Doritos or other high calorie snacks.

Finally, I had a true epiphany this past spring. I realized that my son was the best motivational tool I could ever hope for. You see, there isn't anything on this planet that I would not do for his sake and to honor the joy and beauty that he gave to me. For the rest of my life the most important role I will ever play (and the role I strive every single day to fulfill) is that of being a good father. I talk to my boy almost every day and I tell him how important it is that I work hard to be the kind of man I wanted him to become. I look at every new day as a gift and an opportunity for me to try and honor David's spirit and his memory by my actions and my deeds.

As I looked in the mirror I was struck by the fact that if I promised my son that I would do something, then I knew that I would see it through. That's when I came up with the notion of devoting 100 day chunks to specific projects as a way to honor my boy. I chose to make June 1st the first 100 day project and made the first task a rather simple one of eating well and exercising.

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Today is the completion of that first 100 days and I can honestly say that its been one of the easiest and most pleasurable endeavors I've ever committed to. I ride my bike 20 miles each morning and I am loving the new eating habits that I've embraced. The results have been extremely gratifying and I cannot express how excited I am to start the next 100 day program.

I've decided to make a new commitment to my boy that will continue my 20 miles a day on the bike along with doing some modest toning every other day in the nice gym we have here in my condo complex. In addition to that continued commitment to health, I'm going to commit to writing every single day. You see, I have a book project started and I'm going to promise my boy that part of every day for the next 100 will be devoted to it. David had a dream of becoming a writer himself and I can think of nothing better than to take these next three months to really work hard at writing.

Of course, when it comes to weight loss, I am aware that I've only done 100 days and that I'm still within that big gray bell curve that researchers confidently point to as being a population that will almost always fail over time as far as becoming fit and keeping weight off permanently. However, I've never been more sure of myself than I am now. The simple truth is that I have a son whom I am going to hold myself accountable to. Every day that I keep my promises to him is a day that I know he would be proud of me for ... and that, my friends, makes all the difference in the world to me.

Mark


 


Comments

Roberta Villavecchia
09/08/2014 3:19pm

Mark, you are an inspiration to me, and I love you for having the courage to change your life. Thank for being my friend and for being so much more to me by helping motivate me into taking better care of myself..

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Mark
09/09/2014 4:17am

Robyn, you are one of the real treasures in life. I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate who you are. I hope to see you real soon.

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Jane Marie (Mattingly/Kelley)Peterson
09/09/2014 3:20am

I lost over 100# in the last 5 years, but see it slowly coming back on. Need to get back to walking, limited diet and meditation!

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09/13/2014 12:09pm

Mark, I simply love you - this blog brought out so many emotions - so much we never know about one another when we meet and become friends in an unrealistic environment (oh PSW - oh Vegas!!). I am so proud of your accomplishments. I have 16 year old triplets (who knew!) - I hold your experience close to my heart and send you a big kiss and a hug (one for every day!) - I hope to see you soon my friend xx

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07/24/2015 11:37am

I'll right away grasp your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you've any? Please allow me understand in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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10/30/2015 11:36pm

Wow, this is a very nice post and we can see fat is a big problem now a days. We can get knowledge about how to loose fat and that is really very easy.

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Dean
11/26/2015 2:43pm

Hi Mark,
My name is Dean and me and my friend ran into you as you were filming with your drone at Twin Peaks last Monday ("the f****r with the flip flips").

This story brought me to tears. I am saddened by the series of sad events that happened to you but I am also inspired by your rekindled motivation. The progress you made is very impressive.

I read a book a couple months ago called Slim by Design by Brian Wansink. The book pushes the idea that in order to lose weight and keep weight off, one should change his/her food environment. By doing that, one would not have to put as much mental effort into and thus he/she is more likely to lose weight and keep it off. This is what Wansink calls "mindless eating" (he also has a book called Mindless Eating).

I will give you an example from the book. Wansink advised a guy that was addicted to Pepsi. He told me him he can have as many Pepsi cans as he wants, but he can only have one Pepsi can in the fridge at any given time. The guy's consumption of Pepsi declined significantly (from about 10 to about 4 cans a day or something like that) because the warm Pepsi did not taste as good.

Each chapter in the book is about a different environment (home, work, grocery shopping, restaurant, children's school). Honestly, the most useful chapter in my opinion is the "home" chapter, because many of the other ones are almost like a "call to arms" to encourage restaurant managers or employers to change the things are set up. Either way, you can also check out the book's website:
http://www.slimbydesign.org/

Good luck with your current and future projects. The photos on this website are incredible, by the way.

Best,

-Dean

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Great article though - thanks.

Cheers
Dave

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Dave
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Dave

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Dave
01/26/2016 5:54am

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Dave

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