Bodies By Design Clients and teamates, Mark, Italo and Domenic.

Four years ago, at the age of 36, I was living my normal life like anybody, going to work, working long hours, owning my own business – I thought life was good but I was overweight. I felt sluggish and tired. I just thought that was a normal thing, until one day I went for my annual physical. The next day I got a call from the doctor, who said, “You have to come and see me.” It was one of the scariest things ever. The doctor gave me alarming news: my blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was high and I’ve got the body of a 50-year-old. He said four or five more years like this and I was done. My doctor wanted to put me on pills, saying I had six months to change my life. I then talked to a friend and he said I should go to Bodies By Design.

Italo before the beginning of his journey

I came to BBD at 225 pounds. I started with the simple things, the treadmill, the elliptical, doing some weights and not knowing really what I was doing. It was working a little bit. Then I got into a program with a personal trainer. I was working out twice a week and I started seeing results. When you see results you start to get addicted. I started seeing drastic changes, not over a few days or weeks, but over six months. My weight dropped to 195 pounds. Personal training really elevated me mentally to get focused and to get into a program, and along with the weight training it got me into eating right. I saw an increase in my energy levels and my mental state. That’s when I started realizing that this was about a lifestyle change rather than just doing this as a one-time thing. Coming to Bodies became part of my routine.

After losing the weight, I went back to the doctor to get reassessed. Everything was good – not great – but good, and it was enough to keep me off medication. He said to keep on losing weight, about 10 or 15 more pounds. I came back to Bodies and had my trainers increase the intensity. They got me to a level of wanting to lose more and wanting to be better. It was really interesting to know there were plateaus I wanted to break through.

A progression shot of Italo

My recent accomplishment was a charity bike ride event for the new Humber River Regional Hospital, where a group of 60 guys fundraised and participated in the 2012 Granfondo Italia, a 160-kilometre race starting and ending in Carpi. That journey started after I went out, bought a bike, and took part in a Sunday ride in April 2012 with my friends. It was -2 C, there was a little bit of snow on the ground and I was wearing a big track suit. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even reach 10 kilometers before I had to bail. What an eye-opening experience that was. I said, “I gotta do this.” I thought I was in good shape, I was down to 185 pounds, I was at the gym every day, but I told my trainers Christian and Shawn I have to train for this. They put a program together knowing I was seven or eight months away from going to Italy.

Along with me riding on a regular basis, they just brought my abilities to another level. Being on the bike is a lot different than being in the gym. You have the elements of the wind, the road, the rocks – the natural elements. This is something a lot more difficult. You really have to put your heart, mind and soul into it, along with blood, sweat and tears. When you’re on that bike, there are moments when you’re going up the hill and you can’t stop because going down was not an option. It was exhilarating but very hard. Probably some of the hardest days I had physically were riding my bike in the beginning stages because my endurance level was nowhere near where I thought it was.

Italo Bodiesbydesgin Racing bike

Italo and his Racing Machine!

During the Granfondo Italia race, which was Oct. 13, 2012, there were moments when it was tough. We got to the last portion of the race, the third hill, and it was something that I could never imagine. Physically it was the most demanding thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. I really believe every person should have something in their life where they are challenged to that affect, because once you reach that goal it’s something you’ll never forget. It was hitting a summit that I think will stick with me for the rest of my life. And I’ll never forget the expressions on the people as we were passing them by, cheering us on, because they knew how difficult it was.

Mine is a funny story because where my journey began was a medical issue, in a doctor’s office, because I was overweight and had high cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s funny how my story ends – me fundraising for the hospital where I’m helping people who have those same problems. As part of Team Revolution, we raised more than $600,000. A group of 60 guys that not only dedicated money, time and effort, but our day-to-day lives were changed because we improved our health.

Looking back on my journey I think the biggest message I’d like to give people is don’t stop living. Don’t just be happy where you’re at in life, whether it’s financially, physically or emotionally, because the bottom line is to keep growing. Fitness has so much to do with day-to-day life. It makes you smarter, it makes you more patient and it adds value to your life. When you’re healthier you’re smarter. I am a way happier person. Happiness is created through fitness!