Each of us brings something unique; good energy, a nice smile, an infectious laugh, an interesting story, a friendly hug. I decided that my book signing party for Live Love Laugh: From Siberia to Bermuda would not be just about my challenging life journey of emigration, finding love in Bermuda and my cancer battle, but also about the Bermudians who are the heroes of my articles.
In the course of three years, I wrote about talented musicians, sensitive artists, passionate professionals and fascinating people that I met here on this island. Each left a deep and unforgettable mark on my soul. I wanted to include them at the book signing to share their own stories.
One of the musicians was Tino Martinez, an elegant saxophone player. I met him two years ago on Warwick Long Bay beach.
Over the sound of the waves, I heard the soaring melody of a saxophone playing the famous jazz classic Take Five by Dave Brubeck. It sounded like Tino was having a romantic and intimate conversation with the incoming sea. I found him standing on the rocks overlooking the bay and wrote a story about his passion for music and how it arose from his deepest being.
Tino kindly agreed to play saxophone at my party. I had not seen him in two years when he entered the People’s Gallery at Bermuda Society of Arts carrying his precious instrument, sparkling with red, green, silver and blue Swarovski crystals. In fact, I didn’t recognise him at all.
“It’s not him, he sent someone else,” I thought, somewhat puzzled. The last time we met he was slow moving and massively overweight. This man was slim, fit, quick and full of energy and smiles.
“Tino, is it you?” It was a gentle, unsure question. Tino laughed with delight. “Yes, but only half of me!”
“What does that mean?” I gasped, now quite bewildered.
“I lost 120 pounds; it’s half of my old weight.”
He answered this with quiet pride.
I was speechless. I could not believe it. We all hear these motivational stories on TV or online, but when you see someone you know who did it in such a short period of time it jolts your sense of reality.
Tino played beautifully at the party.
Confident and soulful, he was the picture of happiness as he lost himself in his music.
Afterwards, I told him: “Tino, I have to take another picture of you for the next printing of my book. I want people to see the new Tino!”
We agreed to meet at the same place on the beach where we met the first time.
After I took the photo of him playing his sax, I asked the questions that had been racing through my mind since the day before:
How had he managed to lose so much weight, what was his regime and, most of all, his motivation?
Tino said that he was only 33 years old when his weight began to steadily approach 300lbs. It became not only difficult for him to play saxophone but also to walk. He had no energy.
One day he said to himself, “I have to change right now, this moment, or I am going to die. I don’t want to continue living like this.”
How did he manage to do it? First, he completely changed his diet. He stopped eating fast food and drinking soda. He stopped eating sweets at night. Gradually he began to walk more and further. Then another breakthrough; he started to run.
His cousin, Scott Smith, the owner of Holistic Fitness, encouraged and advised him on his new diet and lifestyle.
Within a few months, several people told him that he had really lost a lot of weight. He got on the scales and saw that he was down 60 pounds.
Last year, he ran 24 half-marathons. He lost another 60 pounds. He completed the Swan’s Running Club Legend Series and ran multiple other races last season.
He is currently training for the race season this year. His dream is to run the Houston Marathon with his mother.
Tino told me that every time he opens the refrigerator he sees a particular can of soda. It was when he reached for this can two years ago that he decided to save his life.
He put the can back and didn’t open it. More than once he wanted to drink this soda so much he took it in hand, reached for the tab, but stopped at the last moment.
He slowly said to himself, “I’ve gone through so much to get here, I am not going back.”
He put the Coke down in the refrigerator where it still sits today.
I listened to Tino’s story in awe and thought of his determination.
Often we find reasons not to do what we know is necessary for us to change our lives for the better for ever.
But, what could be more important than our health? What could make us happier than when we discover we are proud of our bodies?
Tino’s story is so wonderfully simple. He is modest about the focus and willpower that guided him to success.
It was always in him but buried somewhere among the excuses we use so often to delude ourselves.
It took Tino a lifetime to get to that singular moment where his fingers released the can of soda and it remained on the refrigerator shelf.
It was then that his best and highest self whispered urgently in his ear: “If not now, when?”
•Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com</i>
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