In October of 2014, I found myself at a crossroads in my life -- morbidly obese, riddled with pain from inflammation and advanced arthritis. I lived with the constant fear of the possibility of chronic diseases looming in the not too distant future.
I decided to change my life by dedicating time to myself to get fit and healthy. They say that every great journey begins with the first step. For me, that first step was walking as that was literally the only physical activity I could do.
Now, I can proudly say that I have learned how to swim and have participated in Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, weight lifting and even CrossFit. I also set out a challenge for myself to hike a 939-metre peak in the Scottish Highlands in the Cuillin Hills called Bruach Na Frithe and accomplished this in August 2015.
Many times throughout my journey I have struggled. My resolve was starting to waver when a worldwide movement called My Peak Challenge "peaked" my interest. Sam Heughan -- a Scottish actor and fitness enthusiast -- started My Peak Challenge to inspire people to better their health while raising funds and blood cancer awareness. Heughan is a strong supporter of the UK based charity Bloodwise, known for their research and support of leukaemia and lymphoma.
I joined My Peak Challenge to donate funds to a worthy cause -- albeit "across the pond" - but also in the hope that belonging to a group of individuals with diverse goals would help me to be more accountable to myself and push through the obstacles that life and my health threw in my way.
To date I have lost 60 lbs, 75" overall body, 10 pant sizes, and have lowered my BMI from a dangerous 56.5 per cent to a much healthier 31 per cent and I'm NOT done yet! This year, I wanted to challenge myself to walk as far as I could in as little time as possible, but I also wanted to help raise funds for a worthy cause within my own country.
I chose the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as my challenge. OneWalk to Conquer Cancer is a one-day, 25-kilometre walk throughout Toronto and brings together thousands of people to raise funds for all cancers. In 2015, OneWalk raised over $7.5 million for The Princess Margaret.
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto is one of the top-five cancer research centres in the world. Cancer is a global concern and no one today -- whether directly or indirectly -- is untouched by this scourge. I believe walking literally saved my life; the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other was the beginning of a whole new life.
By joining the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer, I walk for those who can't but I also walk in honour of my cousin Alice who has been in remission from Hodgkin's Disease for five years and my beloved Uncle Paul who was recently diagnosed with Kahler Disease, a rare form of bone marrow cancer. Sadly, he lost his battle very quickly.
Through my association with the My Peak Challenge initiative, I have met many other wonderful like-minded individuals all over the world and many right here in my "own backyard." We have come together to form our own OneWalk team called Toronto Peakers '16. As the captain, I check in with my team regularly. We have started some "mini fitness challenges," too. We offer each other encouragement and assistance, as well an activity day that I've organized at a local CrossFit gym with a pot luck barbecue to follow.
Our team of nine dedicated, motivated women have each pledged to raise the minimum of $1,500 -- although we really do hope to surpass our team's $15,000 goal.
I encourage you to join our team, the Toronto Peakers '16, to help raise desperately needed funds to fulfill the statement, "We will conquer cancer in our lifetime." The 2016 Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre will take place on September 10 and funds raised are immediately put to use at The Princess Margaret
Visit onewalk.ca and simply request information, register or donate. If you would like to support the Toronto Peakers '16 or me as a participant please go to www.onewalk.ca/goto/lorrainepowell. If you'd like to contact me please visit www.lorrainep.com.
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