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How I lost 70 pounds: A bike (literally) saved my life

Cancer survivor Robert Collard lost 70 pounds by bike riding.

Rob Callard

50, Beaconsfield, Que.

Pounds dropped: 70

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My turning point: On May 31, 2009, at my son's graduation dinner, I just could not cool down. I was always very warm and clammy, but I remember feeling especially uncomfortable, sweating profusely and sad that I couldn't enjoy myself on such a meaningful occasion. What should have been a wonderful evening left me wondering how I got to this point.

My method: The next day, I decided to get my bike out and go for a ride. I chose to ride later in the evening when the roads were quiet, and there was no one around to see me.

I had always loved biking as a kid, and knew that this could be one way I could shed the pounds I so desperately needed to lose. That night, I did about about 5 kilometres and felt as if I was going to pass out. But within a few months, I was up to about 25 kilometres per ride, several times a week, and by the end of the summer, I had shed 35 pounds. My friends noticed the change – a powerful motivator.

Then, the shock of my life came that autumn: I was diagnosed with an incurable but treatable form of lymphoma. The doctors had said had I not got on that bike and shed the weight, they would have never detected the tumour.

The bike had saved my life.

I knew at that point I had to make more of a full-time, life-long commitment – so I started a new nutrition regimen. I began to keep a small index card in my pocket to list the food I was eating during the day. I still do this today, and transcribe my weight and exercise into a journal which I keep for motivation.

I am a creature of habit: Mornings are bran with blueberries, yogurt and whole grain bread with all-natural peanut butter. At lunch, I will typically eat salad with a protein such as tuna or turkey breast. In the evening, the big factor in maintaining my weight has been to avoid the intake of carbs as much as possible. I will eat veggies and protein, although almost no red meat, and good carbs, such as potatoes or quinoa.

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The great thing about the night before a big ride is that I can have pasta for dinner and not feel guilty.

Today I cycle 60 kilometres a day to work, my cancer is in remission, and I'm down 70 pounds. I feel better than ever.

My kryptonite: I cannot resist ice cream and all things chocolate! I'm in love with chocolate: If I get a craving, which happens often, I'll have a piece of dark chocolate to take the edge off.

This interview was condensed and edited

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