|Drastic times call for drastic measures. In January 2000, my company, Harmon-Marino Entertainment, had finished a banner year and I’d just returned from a three week vacation in Maui, Hawaii. That’s the good news. What was the bad news? Well at 397 pounds, the island paradise of Maui was pure hell for me, and at 34 years old I was dying of sleep apnea, a disease caused primarily in my case by morbid obesity.
I’d spent the better part of a decade trying to build a successful company, without even realizing that you need to build a successful human first. So in 2000, as I began my third decade of looking for answers, a whole new barrage of fad diets came on the scene. In the 80’s I had tried liquid diets and weight loss pills. In the 90’s it was Fen-Phen and pre-packaged foods. A new millennium was beginning, and a new wave of quick-fix diets were deluging the market. At that point, I’d simply lost my passion for short-term solutions, and decided to self analyze - perhaps for the first time in my life. Essentially I decided to fix what was broken. I convened a “Dream Team” of professionals dedicated to permanent success in weight loss.
My team included a registered dietician/nutritionist, a therapist specializing in weight disorders and addictions, and a personal trainer. During a four year process, I unlocked a treasure trove of information, most of which I’d been ignoring most of my life. I learned that food addiction and weight disorders are extremely complex; however, not insurmountable. In the past three years I’ve lost 150 pounds on a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, “way of life” plan.
And I’ve found that life is truly sweeter the second time around.
So, in April of 2004, as our nation’s healthcare experts call for a massive national campaign to battle America’s obesity epidemic - similar to the anti-tobacco campaign - I will head out on that highway to health to champion their cause. The 1200 mile Million Calorie March will take me from Jacksonville, Florida, through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and through Massachusetts to my hometown of Boston, visiting with weight loss groups, wellness centers, schools, and elected officials along the way. I hope I can share with others what I’ve learned, as well as convince people that despite all of the talk about obesity these days, there is still not enough action. When I began this project back in 2001, 61% of Americans were overweight. As I write this that statistic has changed to 65%. Even worse, 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 will develop type II diabetes –once known as “adult onset” diabetes. I for one will not sit by and watch it happen. Not without a fight.
Now, by doing this cross country walk am I suggesting that we all leave our jobs and walk across the country Forrest Gump style? Of course not. But I do hope my walk inspires and helps people caught in the struggle to realize that you have the power inside yourself to change. Hopefully you’ll feel that if a 20-year food addict like myself can turn the entire eastern seaboard into his personal treadmill, that you too can find and create your own “Million Calorie March” in your hometown and in your own life.
We’re beginning to see the start of a real revolution in this country, with fast food companies scrambling to offer salads and low-carb solutions flooding the market. But whether these companies are concerned about their bottom lines or yours, the concept of true health is beginning to etch itself into our national psyche.
Finally, if the Million Calorie March can light the fire under even one person to conquer this disease, than perhaps, on a personal note, I will be able to make sense of the years I spent as a hopeless food addict – seemingly stuck in self destruct mode. If my walk inspires 3 people or 300,000, it’s still a spark that can improve people’s lives.
See you on the road.
All my best.