453rd in 10k was a big deal for Bob

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When information technologist Bob Mellor trained for this year's International Race Weekend he lost something along the route 102 pounds stored around his middle.

Mr. Mellor decided to undertake a massive weight loss project in August 2007, as he approached his fortieth birthday. Back then he weighed in at 324lbs.

"I was 120 pounds overweight," said Mr. Mellor. "People had been telling me for me for ages that I needed to lose weight. I was sitting in my office arranging my fortieth birthday celebration, when a nutritionist friend of mine in the United Kingdom sent around an email saying: 'if you are 40 years old, and 40 pounds overweight, get in line for a heart attack'."

  • <b>Proud moment:</b> Little Brother Shawn Burgess, 11 wearing Big Brother Bob Mellor's completion medal after taking part in the International 10 K in January during Race Weekend.

    Proud moment: Little Brother Shawn Burgess, 11 wearing Big Brother Bob Mellor's completion medal after taking part in the International 10 K in January during Race Weekend.


When information technologist Bob Mellor trained for this year's International Race Weekend he lost something along the route 102 pounds stored around his middle.

Mr. Mellor decided to undertake a massive weight loss project in August 2007, as he approached his fortieth birthday. Back then he weighed in at 324lbs.

"I was 120 pounds overweight," said Mr. Mellor. "People had been telling me for me for ages that I needed to lose weight. I was sitting in my office arranging my fortieth birthday celebration, when a nutritionist friend of mine in the United Kingdom sent around an email saying: 'if you are 40 years old, and 40 pounds overweight, get in line for a heart attack'."

Mr. Mellor took medication for high blood pressure, and was a lot more than 40 pounds overweight. He decided a heart attack was one birthday present he didn't want.

"I contacted my nutritionist friend and asked her to tell me more," said Mr. Mellor. "She said in your thirties and you have a chest pain, doctors just think it's indigestion.

"In your 40s if you have a similar chest pain they tell you to go to the hospital. That should indicate to you how at age 40, your heart needs to be in good condition.

"That was the turning point for me. I asked her to help me out."

His friend agreed to help him for free, as long as he remained committed.

"She said the moment I feel you aren't committed, I'm out of here," he said.

The first thing Mr. Mellor did was start to eat healthy food instead of junk food snacks.

"That lost me ten pounds right off the bat," he said. "Once I lost a bit of weight, I was then able to start exercising.

"People who want to lose weight often expect way too much of their own bodies," he said. "They want to go from 300 pounds to superman in a month.

"I have been doing this for 16 months and have lost 110 pounds. I have lost two trouser sizes. I have more energy. I am more alert. I can sleep better. It is just great."

Around the time he decided to lose weight, he also made another positive decision, he joined the Big Brothers & Big Sisters programme.

This is a local charity that matches young girls and boys in the community with adult mentors. The adults are referred to as 'Bigs' and the children are 'Littles'.

Mr. Mellor was matched with a Little named Shawn Burgess, 11.

"As a child I had several adult males who were key to who I am today, but there were probably four or five key adults in my life who I saw as mentors," Mr. Mellor said. "I am who I am today because I was shaped by things I learned from those people."

Mr. Mellor is from Manchester, England. Before moving to Bermuda to work for Bermuda Microsystems Group he was a boy scout leader, a school governor, and was chair of the local children's amateur dramatic society.

"Being a Big Brother seemed a natural extension of that," said Mr. Mellor.

And he said the improvements in his health over the last year and a half made it possible to better keep up with an eleven-year-old.

"I am able to walk with Shawn, and we have been kayaking together," said Mr. Mellor. "Before, if I tried to sit in a kayak I would have sunk the thing. The weight loss has allowed me to be more active."

His weight loss and physical fitness training went so well that he decided he needed a new challenge.

"I decided I was going to up the stakes a little bit and do the Bermuda International 10k in January for Race Weekend," said Mr. Mellor. "I use to run when I was 18-years-old. I decided I would set about training for the run in January. I was sponsored for the Accelerated Cure Project for multiple sclerosis."

This charity was especially important to Mr. Mellor because he had a cousin with MS.

"I raised $2,000 for it," said Mr. Mellor. "That gave me the motivation to get focused." But when race day dawned on January 17 Mr. Mellor's confidence wavered.

"That day it was really bad weather," he said. "There was a rain storm with wind coming off the North Shore. I thought, what if I can't do it. I raised all that money. People are counting on me."

It wasn't until Mr. Mellor ran up Frog Lane and saw National Stadium that he suddenly realised he could make it.

"It was a really emotional moment for me," he said. "I never thought I would get to the point where I could do that again. When you are 300 pounds, no way you are going to run anywhere. As I turned into the stadium I saw my Little Shawn.

"He broke from the crowd and tried to run with me, but the race officials stopped him. As soon as I crossed the finish line he came over to me and put his arms around me. I was really choked up. I didn't realise how important it was going to be to me to have him there."

Shawn and his mother had waited in the rain and wind to see Mr. Mellor cross the finish line.

Mr. Mellor was 453rd out of 487 runners with a time of one hour and 19 minutes and 41 seconds.

"We have walked on Horseshoe Bay, and he has said it is a long way. I don't think he could believe that I had run ten whole kilometers. He was awestruck by that. He asked me lots of questions about it.

"I always try to channel a message to him with whatever we go to do together, or experience together. But with this I hadn't really thought of there being a message.

"But afterwards, I realised that there was one, and that was commitment to a project. Now he is talking about running himself, although we haven't done it yet."

Mr. Mellor said that people often talk about the importance of a Big in a Little's life, but the benefits go both ways.

"As I crossed the finish line it struck me how important it was to have a Little in my life," he said. "It was so important that he was there to celebrate that significant moment with me. I won't forget it.

"Being a Big has enriched my own life in a lot of ways. He keeps me smiling. Whatever is going on in my life I get to see what goes on in his. He always has an upbeat approach to life. I would say it is very worthwhile and fulfilling."

And as time passes, Mr. Mellor puts more and more distance between him and "the heart-attack line".

In 2000, my blood pressure was 175 over 100. This is in the stage two high blood pressure range. In September his blood pressure was 148 over 85, stage one high blood pressure, bordering normal.

"My GP has said if I continue to lose weight, I may be able to come off the blood pressure medication," said Mr. Mellor. "My blood pressure has come down as my weight has come down. I am now 26 pounds overweight, and still working down. That's a lot better than 120 pounds overweight. I want to get all the weight down. The fact that I could do the 10K has proven to me that I can do it."

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