On October 27, 2012 I hit an interesting milestone. After my Saturday morning run from the South Mission Jetty to Tourmaline Beach and back, I stopped by the Y to pick up a few items. Then I went into the Wellness Center to step on the scale.

For the first time in thirty years, I now weigh less than two-hundred pounds!

If you've been following my fitness journey on my Facebook page, it all began last fall watching Cornell University nutritionist Dr. Colin Campbell being interviewed on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. He was promoting the soon to be released documentary Forks Over Knives. I wasn't paying much attention while waiting for the show to begin, then I heard the good doctor say something that sounded like "there's no species known to man that drinks another species milk."

At that time, I could have easily said, "My name is Michael, and I am a milkaholic."

Let's not stop there. My weight was 245 pounds. My waistline was 38 inches and everything was fitting tight. I just didn't feel good and frankly wasn't doing anything about it. Obscene eating habits. There wasn't a fast food drive-thru that was not fair game for me. Crazy portions at all hours of the day and late into the night. No exercise. I was taking care of business on every other front, except for the one that addressed my personal health.

Thank God for Netflix. I love watching movies. On, Netflix practically every documentary ever made is there for the viewing. Last November, I watched Forks Over Knives for the first time. After doing so, I set out to eliminate dairy, meat, fried food, and sugar from my diet. I started walking the dog 2.86 miles through the neighborhood at least once a day until I began to get the urge to begin running again. In the beginning, it might have been from one light pole to the next. When I felt confident my heart would not jump out of my chest, I started running all flat and downhill portions of the route while walking up hill.

That was it for our dog Buffy!

The moment of truth finally came while at the intersection of Jackson and Navajo. Instead of turning right down Navajo to return home, I turned left and started running .6 miles to Cowles Mountain, then 1.5 miles up to the summit. Mission Trails Regional Park is my backyard view. We have lived in this community since 1980 and I might have made the climb only once or twice while looking at Cowles Mountain every day. Now, this has become a Sunday morning pre-worship ritual before heading to the 11:00 a.m. service at St. Therese Catholic Church. In addition to breaking the 200 pound target goal my waistline is now at 34 inches.

When our youngest of five was born, I remember telling Maria two things. The first words out of my mouth were "she's a beautiful baby." Right behind that observation came this, "when she graduates from high school I will be sixty." My father was called to be with the Lord at age fifty-six. On the 10th of May I turned sixty. On June 12, 2012 Marianna graduated from Patrick Henry High School.

Our family has always been envious of children with grandparents in their lives. My mother passed away in 1999. She was the last surviving grandparent to Maria, Michael, Mario, Michelle, and Marianna. Now keep in mind, I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds the future. While God has a plan for all of us, I can't help but think how blessed I would be to be around when Marianna is 38 years old. I would need to be eighty. God willing, I would be 100 years old when she turns fifty-eight.

For some reason, I am convinced without a healthy diet and some measure of exercise; obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, cancer, and other preventable diseases will get in the way of my ability to spend my heaven doing good on earth. Oddly, I can't begin to tell you how often I am asked "Are you okay?" by those that have noticed the obvious weight loss. It "feels" good to be able to say "I feel great!"

That's my story and I am sticking to it - FOR THE HEALTH OF IT!