|Trainer Dennis Brent, left and Sun Media columnist Cary Castagna. |
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An out-of-shape fitness columnist vows to get fit once and for all.
Yeah, not exactly breaking news.
I was 19 then. Sigh.
That stands as the pinnacle in what has been a lifelong, roller-coaster battle of the bulge.
Indeed, it’s been a lifetime. Among my earliest childhood memories, I recall the overwhelming sadness I felt when I discovered that my mom was “fat.”
Burdened with the same genes, it wasn’t long before I was wearing specially sized “husky” jeans and enduring schoolyard taunts at my, uh, expanse.
But, to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet, rather than “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” I chose to “take arms against a sea of troubles.”
I remember feverishly riding an old stationary bike inside our stuffy family garage on one of the hottest days of the summer when I was around 11-years-old in a desperate attempt to work up a sweat and lose weight. Fast.
At 12, I started dabbling with a barbell set at home. I was soon bitten by the proverbial iron bug.
By 13, I was pumping iron alongside the big guys at the local gym. And so began my ascent to the competitive bodybuilding stage.
Since competing twice (drug-free, I might add), I’ve been on an admittedly jagged fitness journey with far too many ebbs and flows to mention.
Among the fleeting highs have been victories in two 12-week media fitness challenges — one in 2004, when I lost 50 pounds - the other in 2007, when I dropped 36 pounds.
Unfortunately, I gained the weight back — and more — following both challenges when I failed to continue my improved eating and workout habits.
In 2010, I confessed in print to being a “fitness fraud” for essentially not practising what I was preaching in my Keeping Fit column.
That landed this big fat hypocrite on a national TV show, where I pledged to lose more than 100 pounds and finally get fit for good.
Well, that personal challenge didn’t quite go as planned. After dropping nearly 20 pounds over several weeks, I let my diet slide and started missing workouts. I soon gained the weight back and I never mentioned the challenge again.
More recently, I shed 17 pounds of fat and gained five pounds of muscle last spring in an eight-week challenge against four-time world curling champ Randy Ferbey. For the record, Ferbey lost 16 pounds of fat and packed on three pounds of muscle.
The pounds I lost, however, found their way back onto my beleaguered 5’10 physique not long after that challenge ended. Along with those pesky pounds came several more pounds, too.
Starting to see a pattern yet?
I’ve interviewed some of the top experts in the fitness industry throughout North America for this column.
And through this column, which runs nationally in dozens of newspapers across the Sun Media chain, I’ve been extolling the virtues of exercise and nutrition for more than a decade.
But I haven’t quite mastered this fitness thing myself. And that brings me to my latest media challenge.
As readers of my blog already know, I’ve signed up for the 2014 World Health Media Transformation Challenge.
It’s a six-week challenge featuring nine Edmonton radio personalities and yours truly.
World Health will pick a winner based on the following criteria: Total weight loss, best written testimonial, change in body composition, before and after photos, and changes in measurements.
Up for grabs, besides bragging rights, is $1,000 to be awarded to the winner’s charity of choice.
Each personality has been paired with a personal trainer for three weekly hour-long workouts. Mine is Dennis Brent, a trainer and fitness manager at World Health’s Mayfield Common location.
Each personality is also working with a nutrition coach.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win this challenge. I’d also be crazy if I thought I could return to being a physical specimen in a mere six weeks.
For me, this is just the start of the latest chapter in my lifelong fitness journey — a chapter that I hope will inspire others to greater health and wellness, too.
Maybe the outcome will be different this time. Maybe it won’t.
But I’m not giving up. And for those who may relate to my story, I hope you don’t either.
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