Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cans for Pounds

My friend Ron works in construction. Like so many people, he found himself out of work last fall. One night his wife was shaving his head and his son snapped a photo of him. Ron was horrified by the photo and how, um, round he had become:

He decided to do something about it. Since he was already out of work, he had a lot of time to devote to it. He wanted a little accountability as he sought to lose weight, so he came up with a plan: Cans for Pounds. He asked people to sponsor his weight loss for 90 days by donating one can of food for every pound that he lost, which he would then deliver to a small local food bank that feeds 200-300 homeless and hungry each week. I enthusiastically signed up to support him, but I told Ron that I would only donate up to 50 cans. He thought I was crazy and told me there was no way he'd lose anywhere close to 50 pounds... 25 or 30 would be his max.

For the last 90 days, Ron has gone running every single day. He pushed himself daily until he was drenched in sweat. He focused only on cardio, not on doing any weightlifting. Without a gym membership, he used the local park and the beach as his personal fitness center. He went running no matter what the the weather was like, including the week when we got pouring non-stop rain. He cut out all the sodas and junk food, and focused on eating healthy and being very careful with portion control. He got a bunch of other people to join in with him as well, and they all started gathering at the beach on Saturday mornings for workouts, which included running up and down the 74 steps from the Strand to the street level. When it got tough, Ron thought of how many additional cans of food would be donated if he just pushed himself a little harder. When he hit a plateau, he changed things up and invented all sorts of crazy games, like throwing a 16 pound bowling ball across the sand, running to it, picking it up, and throwing it again down the shoreline. He found he could run 10 miles and describe it as easy. He started a Facebook Fan Page, and people from all over California (and even some in Canada!) started their own Cans for Pounds campaigns. One guy lost 9 pound in 6 weeks, and because he had so many sponsors, donated over 400 cans of food to a local food bank!  But let's get back to Ron. Want to know how many pounds he lost in 90 days? 

 He lost 50 pounds!

Ron before (at 241 pounds):
Ron after (at 191 pounds):

Ron came to our house tonight to pick up the cans we'd been saving for the last three months. When he came to the door, we were all so shocked to see him! What a transformation! He said that he's lost count of how many total cans have been donated through the Cans for Pounds challenge, but it's somewhere in the 4,000 range. Can you imagine? I'm so inspired! Ron helped himself by lowering his weight and getting in shape, but he also helped countless other people right here in our local community who would otherwise be going hungry during the lean months that follow Thanksgiving and Christmas. And do you want to hear the best part? Two days before the 90 days of the challenge wrapped up, Ron got hired on a big job. So now he's back to work on a construction site, in better shape and with way more stamina than he ever had. I'm certain that he wouldn't have been able to have such a profound weight loss if he was putting in 10 hour days on a work site. Things always happen for a reason, including long spells of unemployment!

I'm so grateful that we are friends with Ron, his wonderful wife Selena, and their three amazing boys who have all been featured here on the blog in the last couple of years. I hope Ron's story inspired you... if not for losing weight, than at least in looking at how you can make a positive difference in the world around you! If you're interesting in doing your own Cans for Pounds challenge, hop on over to the Facebook fan page and Ron will give you lots of tips and tons of inspiration!

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