Kevin Dean wants to do what his parents couldn't do - live long enough to watch his grandchildren graduate from high school. Both of Dean's parents died in their 60s after decades of smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.
As he nears the end of his 12-week Times Colonist Health Club Challenge, Dean is confident - and determined - that his goal will one day become a reality.
"At the end of most workout days, I am tired and sore," admits Dean, a pipefitter and plumber by trade. "But my cardio is now great, my balance is better and I am skating again."
A recreational hockey player all his life, he thought his on-ice days were over after suffering a ruptured disc.
After working with his trainer four times a week since January, however, Dean is skating again.
He's on the ice with a renewed sense of confidence, recently playing his third game since his recovery.
But while he credits the Health Club Challenge for his physical recovery, he says he couldn't have made it this far without moral support from his Alcoholics Anonymous group.
Dean is a recovering alcoholic - he stopped drinking in 2003.
Four years later, he quit smoking. But he turned to food as a substitute and packed on more than 50 pounds, peaking at 235.
"For me, there's no such thing as just one drink or one chocolate bar. Once I start - I can't stop."
So now his recovery includes abstaining from unhealthy foods such as ice cream while he burns off the extra pounds. Whenever he feels his addictive urges, he seeks moral support from his AA group.
Fortunately for Dean, his partner, Lee, joined him in his new diet. Vegetables and other healthy foods have replaced dairy products in their refrigerator.
The results are visible. He has dropped 22 pounds and one pant size since January, and his stamina has improved.
Now friends and family come to him for advice on losing weight.
"I tell them not to be impatient or get discouraged," says an energized Dean, who works out at the Pearkes Recreation Centre in Saanich.
"I tell them that it probably took years to get to where they are - and it may take just as long for them to get back in shape."
He counts himself lucky to be chosen for the TImes Colonist Health Club Challenge, which provided the spark to ignite his health goals.
"I told my trainer the first week of training that I don't need to be 20 again," he says. "But I do want to live to be 80 to watch my grandchildren grow up."
The Times Colonist Health Club Challenge is a 12-week health and fitness package worth $3,000, consisting of initial testing, body measurements and fitness assessments by technicians at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence. Participants also met with dietitians to establish healthy eating regimens and were assigned to personal trainers to help with exercise routines. The five challengers were even provided counselling to help with ongoing motivation.
Interested in learning more about fitness options at the community centres participating in the Times Colonist Health Club Challenge?
Check out their websites:
- G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre, Saanich: saanich.ca/parkrec/recreation/ pearkes
- Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence: piseworld.com
- Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, West Shore: westshorerecreation.ca/facilities/ juan-de-fuca-recreation-centre
- Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre, Victoria: victoria.ca/EN/main/departments/ parks-rec-culture/ recreation-culture
- Oak Bay Recreation Centre: recreation.oakbaybc.org, click on facilities and parks and follow the links.