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Inspired by the extraordinary

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Tino Martinez transformed his body when he lost 150lbs. This month he ran back to back races in Houston, Texas - a 5K and a half-marathon (Photograph supplied)

I love to be inspired by extraordinary people.

I am in awe when I witness the transformation of a body by a mind intent on positive change. It reminds me that our horizons are limitless.

In Bermuda, I was deeply affected by the story of talented and elegant saxophone player, Tino Martinez, who in the course of only two years lost half of his body weight, transforming himself from 300lbs to 150lbs. At 33 years of age, his decision to lose all this excess weight was not about vanity; it was a commitment to be healthy and energetic for the many years ahead.

He achieved his goal by focusing on a seemingly impossible dream: to compete as a marathon runner. He was in his last days of training for the Houston Marathon when I last saw him.

My husband, Bill, and I are now at the Tao Garden Wellness Center in Northern Thailand where we live for several months each year. In pre-pandemic times, hundreds of scholars and students from all over the world came here to learn new and healthier ways of living.

There is no staff, just a few gardeners, and the resort is closed to the public. We are able to be here because we own our condominium; there are no guests. The vast grounds are deserted. The ancient, overarching trees are filled with exotic birds emboldened by the lack of people. The air hums and hoots and warbles with more birdsong than even the deep jungle that separates us from Laos and Burma.

We are among a handful of people: Master Chia, the founder of Tao Garden and The Universal Healing System, his family, and last, but not least, Joe Harmon.

Nina London with Joe Harmon, 79, who has lost 40lbs in six weeks (Photograph by Bill Rosser)

Joe is 79 years old and lives in his small, studio condo by himself. He rides his bike to the outdoor pool each day, swims, works on his tan, meditates for hours and fasts. When I saw him this afternoon he was rolling a small piece of fruit in his mouth and he smiled. “This is all I’ve had to eat today.”

Then he leapt to his feet and headed for the sauna.

Why is Joe here? Joe decided to make a significant shift in his life. He says his body is like an old car; many parts were replaced: both hips, the knees … he has a metal plate with seven pins in his arm. His weight had gone to well over 200 pounds. He said to himself, “It is time for a change. I want to dance, to move, I want to have energy. I want to find out who I am on a deeper level!”

He spent hours thinking and meditating about the years that lay ahead of him.

He listened to himself without distraction from other people.

Then he flew halfway around the world to Tao Garden, and began to work on himself full-time.

He is a font of energy and conversation, regaling us with outlandish stories of his life exploring the wilderness of his native Alaska. He has climbed glaciers, defended himself from walrus attacks with a harpoon, retraced the Klondike Gold Rush, studied and lived with several Native American tribes and become a knowledgeable teacher and practitioner of the spiritual arts.

His solitary life at Tao Garden requires great discipline, self-reliance and inner poise. He is not part of a programme. Joe’s life is his programme and he follows it with cheerfulness and exuberance.

“It’s not about losing weight, although that is the result you can see. It’s about the freedom to be the person I want to be: Active! Creating things! Helping people!

"The hardest thing about getting old is you accumulate so many things, not just tangible things, but things that you know, and sorting through those for what will help you achieve inner peace, that is the key! “

In the last six weeks Joe has lost 40 pounds but the change he is most interested in is the transformation of his life. At 79 he has not just reinvented himself; he has redesigned himself from the inside out.

And he can’t wait for the adventures he has been preparing for to begin.

I believe that everything is possible. You can make a major shift in your life at any age.

At 33 Tino Martinez started exercising and changed his life. He is seen here in Houston, Texas where he ran a 5K race with his mother, Judith Smith, who is also pictured (Photograph supplied)

If you are 60, 70, 80 or more, and think that your time is over, lift your chin up, smile and look around. Sort through all those things you’ve learnt, and start designing the new you.

Nina London is a certified wellness coach, Qigong teacher and laughter leader. Her mission is to support and help cancer patients and survivors and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with Nina at www.ninalondon.com and follow her on Instagram @coachninalondon

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Published January 27, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated January 26, 2022 at 4:37 pm)

Inspired by the extraordinary

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