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How I lost 45 pounds: I wanted to be alive for my kids

Jeff Day decided to lose 30 pounds in time for his son’s birthday after an old acquaintance didn’t recognize him.

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Jeff Day

Edmonton, 45

Pounds dropped: 45

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My turning point: I had a chance meeting with a guy who I had done business with, and not seen for some time. He didn't recognize me, and introduced himself. He asked me if I was Jeff's older brother. As I don't have an older brother, I was concerned.

It wasn't a surprise: For years I'd been ignoring how my belly was making dramatic entrances long before the rest of me. Too much computer work and not enough body work. I felt like a 238-pound dung beetle.

My method: I wanted to lose the weight for many reasons, but primarily – I wanted to be active and alive for my kids. My goal was to come down 30 pounds in six months, with a deadline of May 8, 2013 – my son's birthday.

I started going to a local pool a few times a week and swimming laps – an activity I could manage into my schedule that burned energy in a way that I knew would be less painful than jogging or running. I cut out all the crappy fast foods: no gradual process here, I went cold turkey.

After a month, I felt much better. Part of this feeling was the result of the fact that I was swimming with senior citizens. Comparatively, I was like Patrick Duffy in The Man From Atlantis – only much fatter.

When the holidays hit, and my usual pool closed, I checked out the local YMCA. The gym was from the future and the pool was new and big and clean. I traded up and bought a month of access to the Y. I started swimming there but everything changed when I stepped on to the treadmill. That device nearly killed me but it also changed my life. It was ridiculous – running in one place for a half an hour? Insanity. But I loved the feeling it gave me. The sweating. The aching feeling. I was becoming a runner. Soon, I was running five times a week, and my weight dropped considerably. People noticed. Some were polite. Some asked me if I had cancer.

I dropped the 30 pounds well in advance of my goal date. Big changes were happening, and I felt wonderful: My pants didn't fit. My watch was loose. My wedding ring, which I had removed as it was too tight on my finger, was located and went back on. I stopped running on the treadmill when spring came, and my biggest accomplishment was going for an outside run with my son on his bike just after his birthday. I ran for an hour with him. I could run and speak. You could tell he was proud, riding next to his sweaty dad.

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Now, I run four times a week – it's part of my life. I stayed on track because I was motivated for change, I used technology to gauge and support my progress, I had a clear goal, and I had support from my family. That was it. Simple really.

My kryptonite: Good vanilla ice cream – not the cheap rectangular cardboard box kind – but the plastic-pint kind that is specifically formulated for maximum deliciousness by Satan for people just like me. I still eat it. But not by the pint. That's the trick.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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