I’ve often said the intent of writing my blog is to provide people with information that when put into action will improve the quality of their life. Except for the number comments and emails I receive from time to time, I really don’t know the personal impact I have on the thousands of people that tune in from time to time....that is until this past year!
The saying, “Knowledge is Power, but Action Flicks the Switch” is epitomized by Peter LeClair. Let me introduce you to Peter. Last summer, Peter weighed an unhealthy 245lbs (a BMI of 33.5 or considered obese) and at the age of 53, this kind of weight carries all kinds of health risks that I’ve discussed in numerous posts.
Even at this weight, Peter is an avid cyclist and through a chance guided bike ride through the South of France with my step-brother (Gerry Patterson), I was introduced to Peter. You see, Peter had a dream of competing in a bike race held every year in conjunction with the Tour de France. The race is called Etape du Tour and there are two events; Act 1 - held in the French Alps and Act 2 - held in the French Pyrenees. Peter elected to participate in Act 2, the longer and more difficult of the two races. Act 2 is a grueling 201km trek over four monster mountain passes unlike anything we see on this side of the North American side of the ocean and will be ridden by the pro riders in the Tour de France a few days after he rides it. Every year, the Etape du Tour attracts approximately 9000 cyclists participate and this year was no exception.
When I first spoke to Peter, he told me about this dream and was looking for a little training advice, while at the same time telling me he was a “little” overweight. You could imagine my reaction when his actual weight was revealed, because Etape du Tour is for the most seriously fit cyclists and although Peter was motivated, he wasn’t in any condition to attempt such a ride. In fact, I told him his first order of business was to focus on his health.
Every few years, I personally coach a few people; sometimes it’s an athlete wanting to improve their athletic performance; other times it’s to assist someone determined to transform their lifestyle. With Peter, I did both.
Since I don’t charge fees for my services, my only reward is to see someone like Peter transform their life while watching their physical and psychological changes. I only have four criteria before working with someone, because if I’m going to invest my time I need to know they are equally motivated and driven by a larger purpose than just vanity. These include:
- 100% support from their significant other (it's almost impossible to make this kind of lifestyle transformation if the other people in the home aren't on the same page)
- Committed to a long term (as in decades) purpose to why they’re making this change (short term goals like just losing weight won’t get you through the tough days)
- Commitment to my suggested dietary and exercise changes (it took years to become unhealthy, it’s tough to replace bad habits with new healthy ones)
- Take responsibility and agree that you alone are responsible for your health (good or bad)
Peter met my criteria in spades and we started working together in early October last year (10 months ago).
Peter was initially focussed on wanting to weigh less than 200lbs in preparation for Etape, while I just wanted him to focus on his health. To set the appropriate weight expectation, I asked Peter what he weighed in his final year of High School, and he said around 170lbs. I said, “Well that’s the weight you will be next summer”. Peter thought I was nuts, as a 75lb weight loss seemed unrealistic. I simply said, “Stop worrying about weight, because if you live a healthy lifestyle, your weight will take care of itself.” There’s no reason why anyone should gain weight throughout their life if they eat properly, limit alcohol consumption and exercise regularly. Most excuses I hear why someone gains weight throughout their life are simply that, excuses for a lazy and unhealthy lifestyle.
I won’t take you through the detail of Peter’s transformation program, other than to say, I provided him with a daily workout schedule and a dietary plan with general concepts and rules and Peter followed the program to the letter. Again, knowledge may be key, but more important was Peter's dedication to turn this knowledge into action.
Peter’s journey just to get him to the Etape de Tour starting line is a great success story, as he had to lose approximately 1/3 of his body weight in addition to train hard enough to be sufficiently prepared to endure over 200km of the toughest cycling conditions that would make the most seasoned pro cyclist lose sleep with anxiety. Peter not only met his goal, but surpassed it, as he transformed his lifestyle and attitude towards his personal health and as a side benefit he ultimately weighed in at a healthy 165lbs on race day. A loss of 80lbs in 10 months.
Below is the transformed Peter, sporting his great riding form in his size MEDIUM cycling kit.
Providing Peter the information to make his transformation possible was important, but as the saying goes, “Information is Power, but Action Flicks the Switch. And Peter flicked that switch. He switched his dietary practices and for the most part followed my guidelines and rules.
And when it came to training, Peter rarely missed a scheuled workout (many in his basement as pictured above during the cold Canadian winter months), even when he felt like taking a day off. And believe me it was a tough program, which had to be proportional to the event he was perparing for. Peter demonstrated the kind of determination, commitment and never ending positive attitude that’s usually reserved for Olympic champions.
The day before Peter competed in Etape, I emailed and told him regardless of how he performed in the race, he was already and winner. Below, Peter standing in front of a motivational poster the day before the big race.
Race day was this past Saturday (July 14) and I’m delighted to report that both Peter and my step-brother Gerry (who also raced Etape du Tour - Act 1 the previous weekend) completed the Etape du Tour - Act 2 in what were horrific wet and cold conditions. I’m hoping Peter will provide a guest blog describing his journey back to health as his story is one of inspiration, determination and what it's like to live in the world of the possibility.
Peter in full flight living his dream of health and competing in 2012 Etape du Tour.
Enjoy the Ride ... Rob