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Eric Fisher of Toronto lost 55 pounds.

Eric Fisher

Toronto, 70

Pounds dropped: 55

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My turning point: Two of my older friends died last year – and suffered from dementia in their latter years. I wanted to prevent this for myself, and I started to read 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss by Jean Carper. I realized fairly immediately that 30 of the ways involved weight loss and exercise. That was a real light-bulb moment.

Also, my partner, who has Becker muscular dystrophy, had been very interested in reforming our diet to pre-empt him from getting obese, so the times was right for a big change.

My method: Over the past year, I have totally reformed my fitness and my diet. I avoid all empty calories – high fat, sodium, sugar, alcohol, refined flour – so that every calorie I ingest carries a nutritional payload. I also started going to the Hart House gym at the University of Toronto. I went every single day for nine months, alternating resistance training and cardio training on a stationary bicycle. Early on, I welcomed hunger pangs as friends, indicating that I was on the right track. I stopped hankering after all the killer alleged treats, regarding them as the enemy.

To this day when I walk down the snack aisle at the supermarket, I recite from the 23rd Psalm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." This is not melodrama; death stalks you through potato chips, carrot cake and all the other alleged treats leading to obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's and a dismal final decade of life. I ignore the chorus of well-intentioned people but, from my view, fat enablers: "You are getting too thin;" "You will have no reserves if you become ill;" and "One little candy, slice of cake, chip, etc. won't kill you."

I'm finally in a very healthy, fit place, but the hard part is now maintenance. I am now at the gym every second day doing yoga, resistance training and bicycle workouts.

My kryptonite: I am very strict about this: I tell myself that there is no treat out there I am willing to die for. But every two weeks I permit myself a slice of poppyseed cake with icing from Timothy's.

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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