Check out Youtube Videos from the Million Step March!
One Night in Philadelphia
Life After North Carolina's Million Step March!
Fall 2008: Off The Road
Million Step March: A Bell Rings in Wilmington
Million Step March: Mile 570
Million Step March - May 30
Million Step March - May 20
Million Step March - May 6
Beyond North Carolina's March - April 30
Million Step March - April 27
Million Step March - April 21
Million Step March - April 16
Million Step March - April 13
Million Step March - April 1
On The Road Again in 2008 with The Million Step March
February 2008 - 2004 Déjà Vu…Right Here In 2008
MCM Premiere…A Night To Remember
September 2007 - And We Did It In 2 ½ Years Flat!
May 1, 2007: Spring is Sprung!
March/April 2007 - It's a Wrap!
January 2007 - UPDATES? We've got updates!
October 17, 2006 - Working 90 to 5…The MCM Movie
August 25, 2006 - Million Calorie March celebrates 2nd Anniversary
July 7, 2006
May 7, 2006 - Movie Trailers!
March 16, 2006 - Meltdown hits 32,000 pounds
January 26, 2006 - Two big Productions This Year!
December 20, 2005 - 2005…Where Did It Go?
November 23, 2005 - Move over, "Supersize Me!"
October 7, 2005 - Imagine That!
September 13, 2005 - Fall Begins!
August 22, 2005 - Second Leg of "Meltdown" tour and Childhood Obesity Town Meeting
July 31, 2005 - Off the road and into the summer
June 7, 2005: - Back to the Front
May 31, 2005 - The Surreal Month
May 1, 2005 - It Looks Like We're Putting The Band Back Together
April 19, 2005 - Do you believe in Miracles?
April 5, 2005: Million Calorie... Marathon?
March 24, 2005: Updates
March 7, 2005: What's happening this month
February 7, 2005: Generation Excel Updates
January 4, 2005: Happy New Year!
December 6, 2004: Media Updates
November 3, 2004: Weight Loss Challenges
October 6, 2004: Project Updates
September 12, 2004 - Back to Florida (by Air this time!)
September 2, 2004: Million Calorie March: The Movie!
August 25, 2004 - "The Waisted Youth" DVD Project
August 14, 2004 - Life After the Million Calorie March
July 25, 2004 - It's Good to be Home!
One Night in Philadelphia
Hi All and Happy Holidays (apparently they start right after Halloween now????)
Todd, I and Dr. Rankin are just back from Philadelphia where the Million Calorie March Film won an International Freddie Health Award. It's an amazing honor considering productions from CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC and others were nominated and entries came in from all over the world. U2's Bono congratulated all the winners via video, and past winners such as Bill Gates, Peter Jennings, Magic Johnson, Dr. C. Everett Koop and Marlo Thomas were seen in the awards kickoff video.
It was great to be back in Philadelphia - a memorable stop for the Million Calorie March back in 2004. I was also there in 2005 as a speaker for the Fit Fest Convention, so naturally the day of the awards ceremony I took a nostalgic walk through the city and past the locations for all those great scenes we shot there.
The Freddie Award is recognition from the health community that beyond the comedy and entertainment value (which many of the reviews gravitated to) of our film we have a made a contribution to the obesity epidemic which will inspire, motivate and educate for many years to come.
The awards will air on Discovery Channel in the near future and I'll post it on our website when we have a date. Todd and I accepted for the film and thanked all involved. We also (at the advice of Dr. Rankin) served up a much needed dose of humor at the podium as we were the 2nd to last award of the night. (I joked that I no sooner lost a few pounds when I was handed what felt like an 80 pound statue!)
At the receptions and cocktail parties before and after the awards, Todd, Dr. Howard and I received many, many compliments on the movie from the judges. Many mentioned how much "soul" the movie had. Others said it was the "clear winner with no close seconds". It was a proud night....and frankly capped off a great year all around for Generation Excel. Crossing the exciting finish line at this year's Million Step March of North Carolina - holding my 2 year old Desi James - was another proud moment.
So what do I think about during these occasions? I think about the team. Not just Jeff Schmidt, Jimmy Jay, Sandy Jaffe, Laura Yellen, Jon Butcher, David Kleiler, Diane and Nick Sestito, and all the other members of the film's production team itself who went above and beyond - but all the teams leading back to 2001 when I first conceived the Generation Excel project with the hopes of helping millions of people struggling with obesity.
Friday Night in Philly I thought of my Uncle Dave who first helped conceive the project with me in his office in Boston seven years ago. Matty Blake and the production team who produced that very first sponsorship fundraising video for the Florida to Boston walk in the Spring of 2001. Vinnie Sestito and his hard work on the corporate sponsorship package and proposal. Todd Patkin - who despite the great package we came up with - actually financed the walk and made it a reality when corporate America would not.
On nights like the Awards Night, I think of the 2004 road team from the first "Million Calorie" Campaign of Russ Surette, Brian Baldwin and Daniel "the kid" Jones...and all the extended help we had from PR, marketing and logistics people. Of course it was just the first chapter.
I think of the stellar team of Greg John, Andy Gully, Wendy Buglio and Dr. Steve Rothstein from the 2005/06 "Million Pound Meltdown" for Blue Cross of Pennsylvania. The team of Andrew Rechnitz, Jim Gross, I-Universe Publishing and others who helped my book "Big & Tall Chronicles" receive a national in-store roll out in Barnes & Nobles books stores the same year we did the Pennsylvania Campaign.
I think of the amazing team and lasting friendships from this past year's "Million Step March" campaign for Blue Cross in North Carolina. People like John Roos, Kathy Higgins, Charlene Foley and so many others. The people who gave me a chance in 2008 to do the Million Calorie March all over again - only this time with the right budget, right resources and in a truly great state. Few people get the second chances I have had this year and I'm eternally grateful.
And of course at these events I think of my sweet and supportive wife Julie...and my second wife Russ Surette who have been enthusiastically on every team, at every stage of every project since 2001. On nights like this past November 14th in Philly I think about all of these people and they are with me. I hope you feel the special pride I do for whatever stage of this you worked on and whatever reason it was you got involved.
Thank you for everything and I hope to see you down the road again very soon!
All the best-
Life After North Carolina's Million Step March!
Ahhhh…Fall in New England. If only we could have this weather all year, right? There's a reason our events and campaigns tend to slowly move south by January! Speaking of which - the Hilton Head, South Carolina Premiere of "Million Calorie March" has been moved to the 2nd week of January. Details to follow.
The big news…Million Calorie March: The Movie has won an International Freddie Award! Some quick history - for over 30 years The Freddies have been awarded to the best films and PSA's in the world of health. Our film won in the "Diet & Nutrition" category.
"How To Get Fat Without Even Trying", a 2004 documentary by the late ABC Anchor Peter Jennings won in 2004 and we here at Generation Excel were so captivated by it we ordered copies for the office. Bill Gates, Magic Johnson and Marlo Thomas have won Freddies in the past for their work on various health broadcasts. Todd Patkin and I are honored to accept the award at the ceremony in Philadelphia (ironically a great city for 2004's Million Calorie March" and one that appears in the movie!)
I always said I created the film not just for Hollywood…but for the health community. This award is confirmation from the health world that we've produced a film which can and will help people for many years to come.
Lastly, Generation Excel is pleased to announce 2008 grants to the following programs:
- Wheelock College's President's Fitness Challenge - Brookline, Massachusetts
President Jackie Jenkins Scott has launched a multi faceted program to not only inspire and motivate students and faculty, but will flow to the community at large with a children's book, maps for walking trails, family fitness kits, etc.
- Colt Andrews School - Bristol, Rhode Island
Health/Fitness Ed Teacher Jason Oldham's Walking Club for both Students and Teachers inspires them to walk around the entire United States (not literally…only we do that!)
- Walk To Defeet Obesity - Snowhill, North Carolina
Activist David Jones' seven day walk from Snowhill to Raleigh, NC to bring awareness and action to the state legislature on the issue of childhood obesity and returning P.E. to schools. Returning gym classes to schools continues to be a passion here at Generation Excel.
Until next time America!
Fall 2008: Off The Road
Hello my friends -
It's good to be back home…once again. Hard to believe it's Fall - but then again 2008 has been a banner year so far for Generation Excel. Besides North Carolina we've also participated in events in Florida, New York, Rhode Island and of course Massachusetts. There's a lot to talk about so let's get to it!
All of our campaign stops from this year's "Million Step March" across North Carolina are now on youtube. Check them out….
We've also added tons of photos from the campaign - check out the slide show at "Our Campaigns". E-mails and reaction to the campaign in the Tar Heel state continue to come and - and the momentum in that area towards getting people healthy appear to be alive and well. For this we couldn't be happier.
In film news "Million Calorie March: The Movie" has been nominated for a national award! The Freddie Awards, widely regarded as the "Academy Awards" of health and medical films have named our film as a finalist in the category of "Nutrition & Diet". Check out the website at http://www.thefreddies.com/ .
The awards take place in Atlanta this November and winners will be announced soon. Also in November, the film will have its South Carolina premiere on Hilton Head Island. Details to follow. The overwhelmingly positive reviews continue to come in from different parts of the country. One review calls the film "A comedic road trip fused with an inspirational weight loss story". Sounds pretty accurate, don't you think?
In other GXL news, we have officially launched our weekly men's weight loss support group! Originally named the "Knights Of The Round Table" we have gone with the punless "Knights Of Excel". Joining forces with us to create this unique, first of its kinds support group is GXL board member Dr. Howard Rankin and longtime foundation supporter Bob Devasto. The meetings launched in August and meet weekly at 7:00 pm on Wednesdays at The Wells Fargo meeting room, 186 Cambridge Street in Woburn, Mass. Please e-mail if you plan to attend as details are subject to change. We are very happy with the results so far for this important effort. Spread the word if you know people who might benefit from it.
Finally - the Generation Excel board will be awarding community grants again this year to programs who share our values and mission on health and fitness. If you are involved in any efforts or know of programs seeking grant money please feel free to forward proposals to us. Grants will be awarded by September 20th.
Until next time America…keep it healthy!
June 16 - A Bell Rings in Wilmington
Greetings from sunny Wrightsville Beach, where my daily workout now consists of swimming against huge waves and walking for one hour against a fierce current and daunting undertow.
Last week, after walking 600 miles, losing 25 pounds, wearing out 18 pairs of sneakers and traversing 13 counties without leash laws, Kathy Higgins and I finally arrived in Wilmington for the spirited ending to the Million Step March.
As humbled and winded as we were, it was a day we will never forget. The day started in the parking lot of Food Lion (one of our sponsors), about five miles away from Riverfront Park in downtown Wilmington. There we were met by Bob Greczyn and John Roos, Blue Cross' CEO and chief sales and marketing officer, respectively. These two innovators and visionaries realized the value in the walking campaigns I had done in the past and asked me to join forces with them to create the Million Step March here in North Carolina. They laid it on the line on this one, walked the walk and talked the talk to show their commitment to getting people healthy in this state.
We were also met by four police escorts from Wilmington, various community leaders, as well as BCBSNC employees who had worked tirelessly on the campaign from Day One. The best part was that Kathy and I were also joined by various walkers from the BCBSNC employee walking contest. Each had entered an essay contest and won a chance to spend a week on the road with us.
Kathy and I really enjoyed getting to know these people throughout the campaign, and they inspired us in ways they probably will never know. Most had never even met each other (each had their own individual week on the road) and it was fun to have almost all of our walkers together on the road for the first time. Talk about a reunion! We were also joined by people like David Jones from Snow Hill. David was inspired by the campaign and joined us out of the blue on the road one day. He became a fixture at our campaign events the rest of the way.
The group left Food Lion around 4 p.m. and laughed, shared stories and took pictures as we made our way to downtown Wilmington. It was a spirited, festive ceremonial walk toward the finish line, to say the least. Before Kathy and I knew it we rounded the corner of Market and Water Streets near the Riverfront Park. We could hear the crowd and the campaign's theme song, "A Bell Will Ring." Hundreds of people lined the streets at that point, waving blue pom-poms, yelling, and cheering us on. It was an amazing sight!
With a short distance to go to the finish line, Kathy and I picked up on the energy of the crowd and began high-fiving the crowd lining the street. It was then that I made eye contact with my 23-month-old son, Desi James. He and my wife Julie were there among the crowd. Clearly caught up in the enthusiasm the baby was going crazy along with everyone else (I assume he was the only one yelling Da-Da!) It was a moment I'll never forget. I couldn't help but clutch him out of the crowd and walk with him right through the finish line ribbon. Of all the finish lines I've crashed through these past four years – including the Boston Marathon and the Million Calorie March – this one was my favorite.
Once on stage it seemed appropriate to reflect on the question that Kathy and I were asked at each and every stop along the way: WHY? As in, "Why would you walk across the entire state of North Carolina?"
I told the crowd that we need creative, innovative campaigns like the Million Step March that capture people's imaginations and get them on a healthy path. I also explained that inspiration, when it comes from unlikely people – Kathy did this entire walk pregnant with twins, and I used to weigh 400 pounds – can motivate people who have long lost hope in ever regaining their health again. And finally we did it because challenging yourself and staying in the fight are an important part of an unfinished struggle.
Thank you to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for giving me the chance to recreate one of my greatest achievements for your state and for your people. I'm a lucky guy. I get to take a big negative in my life and turn it into a positive, and I'm forever grateful for that.
Also, a big thanks to the Million Step March project team. You gave me your energy, resources, creativity, dedication and your hard work for six months and in turn I gave you everything I had on the Million Step March.
To the people of North Carolina: Continue to focus on your health and stay in the fight. Take advantage of the great programs I know BCBSNC will continue to offer in the years to come.
When I first came here to North Carolina for the Million Step March, the folks at Blue Cross played me the song "A Bell Will Ring" by the band Oasis. They'd chosen it as the campaign theme song since it appeared in some of their commercials. I was not familiar with Oasis' music at the time, but as our campaign went on it seemed to make perfect sense for our mission: To light a fire under millions of people who needed a wake-up call to get healthy again. I'll leave you with a few words from that song:
A little faith/Peace of mind/See what passes through
The sun will shine on you again/A bell will ring inside your head/And all will be brand new.
Keep on marching.
All the best,
Mile 570: Looking in the Rear View Mirror
Soon, the Million Step March will take its final twists and turns toward its inevitable conclusion in Wilmington, N.C. One day very soon, after I’ve hung up my walking sneakers and road warrior hat for yet another campaign, I’ll lie in the sand during a late afternoon on Wrightsville Beach and reflect on the entire 600-mile, 75-day campaign of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
And I’m sure while I’m lying there I’ll think about the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen over the course of this journey, and I’ll ask myself one very important question: Will the inspiration and education of the Million Step March keep people in this area motivated long after Kathy Higgins and I have written our last blog posts and returned to a more structured, normal existence? I sure hope it will. Keeping the fire and staying in the fight – for your health – is an important part of an unfinished struggle.
You meet America when you do walks like this – you honestly do. What’s more is that you end up having a front row seat to the obesity epidemic in our country. You spend a lot of time walking through farm country, past the cattle industries, through the agricultural heartlands. Eventually, and in time, you find yourself walking down Main Street USA, past the staggering amounts of fast food and barbecue places, the restaurant rows and the grocery stores where most of the processed food ends up.
And finally, you end up at the campaign events like the 50 or so that Kathy and I have been to over these past three months. You meet the people, see the faces and look into the eyes of people struggling with obesity every day – and the 51 associated diseases such as diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea and others.
Finally, and not to get too deep here, it touches your soul. So where did our “land of plenty” take such a wrong turn? Well, that can be debated all day long. But in the end it’s up to us as individuals to take control of our health. It’s our responsibility to stay in the fight, to be vigilant about getting and staying healthy in a world of hectic schedules and toxic food environments. And no one knows better than yours truly.
The fight didn’t end for me when I lost 110 pounds with the help of a nutritionist and therapist. It didn’t end for me when I lost 40 more walking from Florida to Boston a few years ago. It wasn’t finished when I completed the Boston Marathon back in 2005. And it won’t be over when I hit the finish line of the Million Step March in Wilmington in just a few days. You take it day by day. You wake up and try to walk a healthy path every day. Some days you succeed and some days you don’t. But here’s the rub: You’ve got to make an honest effort of it every day. You know the future if you just give up.
The good news is, if someone like me can achieve health, then you can do it too. And remember, as I’ve said a million times at every event we’ve done on this march, it’s about the long-term fix versus the short-term fix. It’s about being around for your kids and grandkids. It’s about living long and productive lives – and about living life the way it was meant to be lived.
I know you can do it, North Carolina. I have faith in you.
See you in Wilmington this Thursday!
May 30 - The Long Road To Fayetteville
Up at 6am…Breakfast in the hotel lobby while I check e-mails… Jump in the Million Step March van with the gang while we head for the drop site…Ice packs on the legs while we do morning radio interviews… Jump out and walk 6 mile miles before we head for yet another live event.
With each passing day we make our way toward the coast and the eventual finish line in Wilmington. Ahhhh… Life on the Million Step March. It's invigorating for sure...BUT has anybody out there ever seen the Movie "Ground Hog Day" with Bill Murray? He basically lives the same day over and over again. It can be like that here on “The March” too... But fun! We've had great crowds at our events and on the eastern part of the walk itself it seems like every 3 piece suited executive next to every UPS driver next to every kid on the school bus is giving us the thumbs up. And while the trip out here from Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill was certainly a long one (nearly a month!) we got a great reward when we finally arrived…hundreds of School kids from the Bill Hefner and Stony Point Schools yelling, cheering welcoming us with open arms.
Our stops here are all part of our “Million Step Challenge” to the schools. We’ve started a contest to inspire them at their young and tender ages to learn now - rather than later - about the importance of exercise. Anyone who knows me knows the prevention of future “little Garys” is a big part of my mission...and Blue Cross, of course, has always been dedicated to healthy kids in this state as well. So for the next week the 2 schools will complete to see who can get the most steps in. They’ll learn about pedometers. And win prizes. And most importantly the importance of staying healthy long after they’ve left grade school…and high school…and college. Hopefully the Million Step Challenge and the importance of staying active will orbit their consciousness for many, many years to come.
May 20 - A Warm Bath Of Nostalgia
We are back in farm country now…or at least back in the woodsy areas east of the Triangle. Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill seem like forever ago already. All eyes are on Greenville…the next big prize here on “The March”. That’s the next big stop for the walk team and the area where most of our events will be for a while. We’ve come up with our own terms to describe this leg of the walk. “Farmlike” is one. “Forest Gumpish” is another which describes farms with their own family cemeteries.
Of course, I’ve been here before. Greenville, Wilson, Mount Olive are nostalgic for me in a way. I walked through this area and probably on some of these very same roads back in 2004 as part of my Florida to Boston “Million Calorie March” campaign. I recognize the terrain. (Okay and maybe some of the BBQ places...but I digress).
Of course it’s not 2004 anymore. The Obesity issue has really come to the forefront of the media and the nation’s consciousness since my first walk of the eastern seaboard four years ago. Our campaigns have gone from philanthropist funded grass roots efforts to partnering with a great company like Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Books have been written. Movies have been made (our documentary film “Million Calorie March premieres at the Jacksonville Film Festival this weekend!) No it’s definitely not 2004 anymore. I’m a Dad now to 21 month Desi James Marino. He is what my health goals are about these days. It’s not about the “quick fix” but rather about the long term fix. It’s about being around for our kids and grandkids, right? That’s the stuff that matters. The Million Step March campaign is about all North Carolinians living long and productive lives.
See you in Greenville!
May 6 - 350 The Hard Way
We are walking east now in places like Garner and Clayton but commuting back and forth to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill for events. The good news is that Kathy Higgins and I hit 350 miles this week and on a personal note I weighed in at 20 lbs less today. What is the bad news? We'll there's really no bad news...except that the beautiful, scenic mountains that surrounded us during the early week's of the Million Step March have been replaced by Belks, Verizon stores, William Sonoma's and Dairy Queens. Do we really need strip malls, specialty stores and BBQ restaurants? (Well - maybe the BBQ places...just kidding!)
The best news is that the area stops we've made (and will continue to make for a few more days) have been some of the best of the campaign. "The March" is in full swing now and it's clear that we are connecting with many, many people.
Following the 1/2 way point Rally At Raleigh, we made stops at places like Structure House - a live in facility for morbidly obese people in Durham. It was a chance to take my personal message and the message of the Million Step March directly to people who struggle with weight and the staff who treats them. We also did some stops at various Blue Cross locations where they cheered on one of their own: the simply unstoppable Kathy Higgins.
At Wakemed Hospital just today, I walked into a standing ovation and one of the sweetest crowds yet. Not bad when you haven't even said anything, right? Our group walks at all of our event stops have been a big hit as well. Dr. Don Bradley, who has been walking with us for over 3 weeks now, has been actually leading these walks...Kathy & I are saving our energy for the road!
We'll have video highlights of many of our stops very shortly. In the meantime keep your own health goals going and keep on Marching!
April 27 - Winston-Salem Rocks!
Greetings from Burlington...or mile 278 as we call it on "The March". We put up our first 20 mile day yesterday thanks to Dr. Don Bradley who has joined us to walk for the next week and who sets the bar high for us all! Me? I did my part and kept up. The old saying is true my friends...If I can do it you can do it!
This past week The Million Step March stepped on in to the Winston Salem and Greensboro areas and the energy and enthusiasm for the walking campaign caught even us off guard! Our events at Corpening Plaza, companies like BB&T, TIMCO and our appearances the Greensboro Grasshoppers game last night were a blast. People are inspired...which is what this campaign was all about to begin with.
Video from our event stops is on its way this week. In the meantime come down to our 1/2 point rally on Tuesday in Raleigh okay? Information is on this website and it should be quite an event!
BEYOND NORTH CAROLINA'S MARCH
Hi everyone. Greetings from Greensboro, NC and mile 280 of The Million Step March!
I thought it would be a good time to update to update everybody about other happenings besides the current "March". Lots going on with Generation Excel these days!
MCM DOCUMENTARY TO HAVE IT'S SOUTHERN PREMIERE AT JACKSONVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
Our Obesity film "Million Calorie March" is getting great reviews this year on the US Film Festival Circuit (and at our screenings here in North Carolina). On May 17th and 18th the film will premiere in the place where it all started four years ago this month: Jacksonville. Russ Surette (who plays the role of...Russ Surette) and I will be heading down to the premiere. The JAX Film Festival has turned into quite a good little festival these past few years and they are billing this as the "Southern Premiere". It will be great to see Generation Excel's freinds and supporters there again and even more fun to see thier reaction to the film. Most of these people have no idea what became of us after they walked us to the edge of town and wished us luck!
# # #
RHODE ISLANDS "MILLIONS OF MINUTES" CAMPAIGN
I'll be making rare appeareance out of North Carolina on May 9th to help Rhode Island Governor Carchieri kick off his new campaign "Millions Of Minutes: Healthy Weight In '08"
We'll do some media appearences that morning followed by a speaking event and press conference at Rhose Island College. Of course...we'll head out for a group walk after as well!
Check out the website for more details
# # #
MARCHING ON NEWSLETTER
The 2nd edition of our Generation Excel Newsletter "Marching On" is completed and will be distributed nationwide in early May. It's got stories on the current campaign for Blue Cross of North Carolina, The Shrink & Shrunk with Dr. Howard Rankin and other foundation happenings.You can also check out a copy here on the website by clicking here or visiting the Generation Excel section.
Hope to see you all very soon!
April 21, 2008 - Eight Things I've Learned on the First 200 Miles of the Million Step March
We are in Advance, North Carolina and apparently...advancing in Winston-Salem very quickly. We'll be in downtown tommorow AND we hit the 200 mile mark today! Not bad for a guy who wouldn't walk across the street just 6 years ago, huh? Who am I kidding...I'd get winded in an elevator back in my 397pound days!
So I thought the 200 mile mark might be a good time to share a few things I've learned walking across North Carolina for those aspiring road warriors like me -thinking of taking a long walk to promote a cause of their own. So here we go...Top 8 things I've learned on The Million Step March...
1) The Soft Shoulder is your friend
2) Sidewalks (where you can get them) are a luxury
3) Roadkill is a dandy appetite suppreseant (if you are trying to lose weight like me)
4) People in North Carolina are so nice they'll stop and ask you if you want a ride (unlike my state of Massachusetts where they get road rage when the aren't even driving)
5) Kathy Higgins from Blue Cross is an amazing lady and will walk all day if we let her!
6) BBQ is not just for breakfast here in the south
7) Sometimes you have to look out for 18 wheelers on the road...other times actual houses that are being transported via 18 wheeler!
8) Getting healthy can actually be fun!
We'll see you when we come to your town, okay?
April 16, 2008 - Good Charlotte!
Okay gang - forgive the blog name. A guy's head can turn to mush after 150 miles of walking! Well..the Blue Ridge Mountains in April were beautiful alright...but nothing like the beautiful oasis the skyline of Charlotte provided. It was good to finally arrive at our first major city since leaving Asheville over 2 weeks ago. And the crowd on the Green in downtown could not have greeted us better. There is a real momentum in the air these days. All of the Charlotte media came out to cover Kathy & I arriving. WSOC-TV, KATT Radio, 96.1FM the beat among them.
On stage, an eclectic mix of community leaders, sports personalities, Bobcats cheerleaders, local Charlotte types, you name it, greeted us warmly and asked for stories from the road. Our rally was a fun spirited event. That night we all went to the final Bobcats game of the season, and our campaign video was played on the jumbotron, Kathy and I were introduced at center court, all the while basketball legend Michael Jordan sat just feet away. Now all this was pretty cool...but you know me. My sights are already on the lights of Winston Salem...just 4-5 walking days to the north. That's how you do it here on a 600+ mile walk. You don't think about the distance. You take it a week at a time and a major city at a time. You do the math...12 mile days X 6 days per week of walking = 70 miles a week. It adds up doesn't it? And with any luck we'll see you in Winston Salem on Tuesday for another rally!
April 13, 2008 - The Urban Sombrero
After 100 plus miles on "The March" we finally took a big right hand turn today and headed south towards Charlotte! All things considered the walking effort is going good - just one issue: THE WEATHER? This is the only state I've ever worked in where the weathermen are actually always right! When they predict rain... it's rain. When they predict sun... it's sun. I'm from Boston, of course, where we are down to 3 seasons officially: Fall, Winter and road construction!
So it's downpouring today and we're walking on farm roads - but I'm wearing a plastic poncho (which is very slimming) supplied by Blue Cross and Blue Shield as well as my trusty blue "urban Sombrero". It's a blue nylon and velcro hat I bought at Gaylan's Sports Store back home and it's been with me ever since on every walking campaign we've done.
Add to this already impressive "road warrior" wardobe an iPod, cell phone and headset and I'm a hi-tech urban cowboy.
We are looking forward to the Event on The Green in Charlotte and our Bob Cats Arena event that night. Kathy & I are holding up fine and getting stronger by the day. I haven't had time to search for a scale so I won't be doing any "girth announcrments" - but I do feel great and I know I'm losing weight. We've also had great people on the walk so far. Interesting and fun people. Life is good onThe Million Step March!
April 1, 2008 - Back to the Front
Greetings from the front lines of the Million Step March! We are officially on the road with this first of its kind cross-state walk, and the energy and enthusiasm at the kickoff was infectious.
First off, Kathy Higgins (the lovely and adventurous soul walking all 600 miles with me) did three days of media interviews gearing up for the big walk. The media here in Asheville really rallied around the march. We appeared on radio, TV and in newspapers such as the Asheville Citizen-Times.
After a special sneak peek warm-up event at the Biltmore Estate, we headed to downtown Asheville for the kickoff. Our mobile trucks served as a background and staging area - and all of it against the stunning background of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It really was a beautiful sight.
Mayor Bellamy joined Kathy and me on stage along with Asheville business people and community activists. We had a great crowd turn out including many from the "Ground Pounders Walking Club" as well as the "Lighten Up For Life" folks from Mission Hospitals. They all joined us for the two-mile walk through downtown Asheville.
In addition to our Million Step March trucks, four police escorts also led us out of town, causing some stunned local folks to yell out "Hey, what parade is this?" It really was quite a sight.
Once on the edge of town we took a water break and thanked the crowd. That's when it got real for Kathy and myself. We walked (with a small group of five people) an additional 10 miles through the scenic valley towards Black Mountain. 12 miles down... 588 to go! Many people at the kickoff seemed to ask if we really were walking the entire way to the Wilmington coast - so I'll say it again right here on the blog - Kathy and I are purists! We really are walking every step along the way to inspire the people of North Carolina. And you can too, right in your hometown. Login and join the march!
On The Road Again in 2008 with The Million Step March
Well gang, after 2 years off the road producing dozens of events locally with Generation Excel and the "Million Calorie March" movie - I'm pleased to get back to where our passion lies: motivational, educational and inspirational awareness campaigns.
We have been working fast and furious in pre-production for the past 3 months with Blue Cross Blue Shield Of North Carolina helping to create what will be the very best campaign yet: The 600 mile, mountains to the sea "Million Step March". A walking and fitness campaign this time - it is designed to inspire people in North Carolina to build 30 - 60 minutes of walking into their everyday lives and live longer, more productive, healthier, happier lives. To inspire them we'll be walking 12 miles days through the mountains in Asheville, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh Durham, Greenville, and Fayetteville ending in Wilmington on the seashore this Summer.
Just another health and fitness campaign? Well, try this on for size. I'm on the road with the most dynamic team I've ever worked with it. From the CEO to the CMO down to the community relations, corporate communications to the public relations people - this health care company is going for it in a way which I've never seen. Joining us for this March is a state of the art mobile truck tour complete with lecture stages, multi -media rooms, kitchen demonstration truck complete with seating for 40 people, an attraction called "The Workplace of The Future" (modern treadmills equipped with hi tech computers linking directly to the million step march website). Did I mention the giant inflatable "Shoe Box Theater" for guest speakers and screenings of the "Million Calorie March" documentary? As if that isn't enough we're barnstorming the state with 60 interactive live events in a 75 day period. We're inviting people out via TV commercials, radio ads, an interactive website moving billboards, sponsorships, blogs, you name it. By the way - new website for the new walk is http://www.betterhealthNC.com or http://www.walk.millionstepmarch.com
And I've got company on the walk this time...in addition to an expanded road team, Kathy Higgins, Vice President of Community Relations for Blue Cross is on the road with me walking all 600 miles. She's a great lady and a wonderful adventurous soul. We hit it off from the moment we met. Also with us are Blue Cross Employees who signed up for the "Million Step Contest" and the chance to walk with us and work on their health goals. Although Blue Cross Blue Shield Of North Carolina is exclusively launching the campaign - it is not just for their employees or insured clients. It is a statewide initiative designed to get millions people in this state on a healthy path. Why here? Why now? Well the CDC recently released a study which revealed that nearly 25% of North Carolinians were sedentary. Nobody knows more than I do how dangerous that is and what a sedentary lifestyle can be to a person. Just read the chapter in my book called "Life, Liberty and The Pursuit Of Everything But Health" and you'll see why. By the time I was in my early 30's I was 397lbs, diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and looking down the barrel of a shotgun loaded with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and God knows what else. I was also a hopeless food addict. I prayed back then for community wide efforts like the one Blue Cross Blue Shield is launching right now. I know they would have inspired me to take control.
Recently in Pinehurst, we unveiled the new campaign at the company's annual health symposium. I stood against the wall listening to the CEO and CMO talk about obesity and people's health in general. I was almost brought to tears listening. They get it here. They really do. This is a sincere effort and an unprecedented campaign designed to connect with people. When they asked me late in 2007 to recreate my Florida to Boston Walk - I didn't have to think twice about it. The people here really rallied around us back in 2004.
On a personal note - I was always taken aback when I walked Florida to Boston at how many people thought I was doing it simply to lose weight for myself. No matter how many times I pointed out that the true goals were about inspiring individuals and imploring corporate America to launch awareness campaigns of this type - I always felt my message was lost back home. In the years that followed "The Million Calorie March" our foundation dug in deep, worked very hard and went on to help a lot of people. Some kept paying attention. Others lost interest if I wasn't out there walking or doing something colorful - if not crazy. Either way - 4 years later we are about to do it all again - but the right way this time. Like Bono sang "it's a beautiful Day". The time has come.
This is the right grouping of people, in the right state at the right time. In this great state and in this corner of the world we are about to take awareness campaigns into a whole new stratosphere..
And it's all going to start in the town of Asheville on April 1st. Blog and journals will be on this website as well as www.betterhealthNC.com
Pay attention. This one's gonna be a rocket ride.
See you on the road!
February 2008 - 2004 Déjà Vu…Right Here In 2008
In February of 2004 I was spending my days in meetings with PR companies, website development companies, agencies that specialized in routing and logistics and forming the Generation Excel Foundation. I was gearing up for our first project - a daunting walk of the eastern seaboard to shock and awe people into paying more attention to obesity. I was doing this because I'd become disillusioned with the lack of attention the obesity epidemic was receiving in this country. Where were the awareness campaigns and the TV specials? The prevention programs for the kids? Why were advertisements for fad diets the only things getting major print?
I left Jacksonville Florida in April with the Million Calorie March Campaign and over the course of the next 3 ½ months we did our part - grassroots and all - to bring awareness to this issue. Sure, our campaign had some hits and misses out there on the road - but the country was changing before our very eyes and obesity was beginning to orbit the nation's consciousness.
Well - four years later I'm no longer disillusioned. In fact I'm very happy at what has gone on in the years since my walk of the eastern seaboard. Obesity is everywhere now. Talk shows have launched weight loss challenges. Reality TV shows have sprung up. Ex-presidents have started childhood obesity foundations and raised millions. Trans fats have been banned in certain parts of the country. HMOs have launched wellness programs for weight loss and politicians have issued challenges to their constituents. Obesity is front and center in today's media and society and I'm very grateful for it. It's tough to swallow…but here's the reality check: - the statistics have only gone up since 2004.
So today Generation Excel is making a signature shift in our mission. It is no longer about raising awareness. (I think as a country we are all now fully aware that we have a problem) Our foundation is now about raising awareness…for SOLUTIONS.
While I think more needs to be developed for the masses in terms of dealing with emotional and stress eating- one solution we know works for sure is exercising. 30 minutes or more per day burns fat, burns calories and reduces a persons chances of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more by 20% across the board. It is in fact one bona fide solution to the problem.
So in 2008 the Generation Excel Team is preparing for a brand new walking and fitness campaign - this time teaming up with a major HMO in North Carolina. Four years later I'm finding myself back in daily meetings about logistics, routing, public relations and media. AND I'm putting my walking shoes on again…preparing to march more than 600 miles from the North Carolina mountains to the sea - to inspire people in that state to make a commitment to walk everyday. To motivate them to see their waists shrink and their lives get healthier.
And finally to teach people what I learned back in 2003 and 2004 - that walking is truly a solution to long term lifestyle change and living a healthy and productive life.
2004 Déjà vu? Sure. Only I'm not alone this time. These days, Corporate America recognizes the value in our mission and have partnered with us on many occasions. I'm on the road with a dynamic team of people and backed by one of the most ambitious and dedicated companies I've even seen. It's surely going to be the best campaign we've been involved in so far. We'll help more people than ever get their lives on a healing path. And for me - a rare second chance - to try it all over again the right way. Those daring and crazy days living out of a low budget RV and asking the general public for pledges seem like forever ago now. In April of 2008 - four years later - I'll be back on the road. Of course, it's no longer 2004. A few things have changed. Children have been born (Our son Desi James will celebrate his 2nd birthday in North Carolina this summer!) Movies have been made. Books have been written. But our dedication to getting people healthy is stronger than ever. In many ways the Florida to Boston walk was only the first chapter.
Details of the new campaign will be announced in March and I'll drop a quick update on the documentary film (which is picking up steam!) as well.
Keep well and keep it healthy!
Seasons Greetings my Friends!
If the journals have been slow in coming please forgive me! It's certainly not a case of sitting around and waiting for something to write about. Fall 2007 went by record fast and we've been amazingly busy since the premiere. It's all good stuff - some things I can talk about and some things I can't…but it's going to be a very exciting 2008.
2007: The Year The Rear View Mirror
Before we get too reflective here - how about that crowd at the Children's Workshop WALK FOR LIFE Event in Norwood Mass on Nov. 12th? What a great audience and what a pleasure to get to work with Dr. Howard Rankin and do "The Shrink & The Shrunk" live. Special thanks to the 300 or 400 people who were there and CEO Kevin Fusco for having the vision to inspire his employees with an entire day dedicated to wellness, fitness and walking.
Health Stops in Acton & Wellesley
We also did some cool events this Fall with the towns of Wellesley and Acton, who did Health/ Anti-Obesity programs through out the community. Cable TV has been playing my presentation incessantly since I was there on some kind of loop from what I can tell. I know this because people tell me they've seen it constantly! Special thanks to Heather Hasz (Acton Board of Health) and Cheryl Lefman (Wellesley) for bringing me in.
We did two visits and live presentations at Camp Kingsmont this past Summer…a "Fit" camp located in Western Massachusetts which does good work.
Generation Excel also helped to send young Mikey Englund, from Tampa Bay Florida, to the camp where he not only lost 23 pounds, but gained an awful lot of knowledge about nutrition and exercise. It also seems that Mikey made many many lasting friendships along the way, which is one of the reasons
I believe in these camps. I really enjoyed talking to the kids and showing them clips from the newly finished "Million Calorie March" movie. What can I say, I'm like a board game, good for kids 6 to 60!
The Works Event
Kay Vasile and the crew from this beautiful health center in Somersworth New Hampshire approached Generation Excel in January of 2007 and immediately went to work putting together an impressive campaign: a "Million Calorie Challenge" contest leading up to a screening of our film in their basketball auditorium (which they turned into a gigantic movie theater). The media was sensational around the event…not since the Million Pound Meltdown "walking and talking tour" of Pennsylvania have I seen such enthusiasm for getting people healthy. In the end they did hit their goal of burning a million calories collectively. Thank you Somersworth!
Rhode Island Tour
We did a little 3 date tour for Blue Cross Of Rhode Island this year too, kicking off the first "National Walk At Work Day" through the streets of Providence in April. Our next stop was the "Worksite Wellness Awards" in May in Warwick. I delivered a video interactive keynote and BCBS handed out awards to area companies with the best wellness programs to keep their employees healthy. Finally in September I hosted the huge WALK RI event at Bristol State Park where the crowd walked 2, 5 and 10 miles along the water...for the health of it!
A week later we had the premiere of Million Calorie March: The Movie at the AMC Loews Boston Common cinema on September 18 and 21. In the weeks
around the premiere we did interviews with radio stations, TV stations and print all across the city. We also got some great media reviews! We've just added some media links to the movie page…click here to view some of it. By November we were in other parts of the state screening the film at festivals and events for audiences who had never heard of any of us…the good news is they seemed to really love the film!
|Of course as proud as I am that Generation Excel continues the mission 3 ½ years after the Florida To Boston kickoff (it would have been easy to walk away from it all after the Million Calorie March) - nothing beats waking up everyday to our 17th month son DJ. He is perfect and woos us (as well as the rest of the world) every day. PHOTO It's Santa in shorts this year as we head to the Naples/Marco Island in Florida for Christmas again this year.
We'll be back in 2008 with a newly updated website, a new Generation Excel Board , fresh edition of "Marching On" newsletter and a big announcement on Generation Excel coming soon!
MCM Premiere…A Night To Remember
Hey All and welcome to Fall 2007 !
The Generation Excel screening of "Million Calorie March" is over and it was …in a word… "magical". What a great night to have family, friends, supporters, everyone who worked on the film, their spouses, loved ones etc. come out and enjoy it. To be honest we wondered if we'd ever get here to begin with, given the huge undertaking it was. I can honestly say I'll never walk out of a movie theater again and say "that was horrible!". No sir - these days I have respect for the good, the bad and the ugly. Luckily nobody thought our movie was bad or ugly! All of the feedback - and the reviews from the Boston film critics have been fantastic and we couldn't be happier. Who knew 98 minutes of a guy's weight problem could actually work on the big screen?
Getting back to the premiere - the audience was fun and spirited. My team - editor Jeff Schmidt, screen writer Sandy Jaffe, co-producer Jimmy Jay Frieden and Executive producer Todd Patkin all glowed that night with the attention they all so richly deserved. The movie is what it is because of them (although I'll take credit for the weight problem!) Thanks to all who attended September 18th and the follow-up screening on the 21st. Click here for pictures of the premiere night!
So what's next? Speaking dates in Action, Wellesley, Norwood and other areas all coming up. I'll be playing scenes from the movie during my presentations as well as signing copies of "Big & Tall Chronicles" to benefit Generation Excel. Simultaneously we are filling out applications and submitting the film to almost 30 other film festivals for 2008. We are also working on Generation Excel screenings of the film in Framingham, Derry, NH and other cities. Let us know if your area is interested. Topping off Fall 2007, my partner Todd Patkin and I will also be meeting with distributors and broadcast channels in New York and Los Angeles.
At some point in the not too distant future? REST. A vacation. Maybe even some sleep. I honestly don't feel like I've slept since the late 90's! So on a personal note I'm gearing up to refocus on my personal health goals. It's been a grueling 2 ½ years for me and as the film's theme goes "you've got to stay in the fight".
See you soon!
And We Did It In 2 ½ Years Flat!
Welcome to fall 2007 everyone. Sorry for the lack of updates - it's been a whirlwind summer and the "Million Calorie March" film is finally finished! After 30 months of blood, sweat, tears, brain cells, calories and creative overdoses (not bad at all, I'm told in terms of film making) our team hit "film lock" on in early August and finally screened the film for the Press in Boston on the 22nd of August. Early reviews have been extremely encouraging - to the point where this may have been worth it after all. Let's face it - Obesity in America was always an aggressive subject to try to make a mainstream audience film about - but the reviews make me think we may have done something good here! So was "the journey the reward" in terms of making the film? "Not a chance," says the film's Theatrical Director and Co-producer Jimmy Jay Frieden. I'd say I have to agree - this was simply a lot of hard, hard work. I say "the reward" part can begin anytime now!
Some stories about the film are posted on our site at http://www.millioncaloriemarch.com/movie/press.html
There are additional stories coming out in the Weekly Dig, Boston Herald, Imagine News, WBZ Radio, WBZ TV4, I'll be promoting the film on the FOX25 Morning Show, "Backstage With Barry Nolan" on CN8, WROR-FM, WXLO FM, and Oldies 103 among others. Special thanks to the amazing Laura Yellen and Kathy O'Toole from national Boston for their support and hard work on this film.
If you're interested in seeing "Million Calorie March" - it premieres Tuesday, September 18th at 6:30pm at the Loews AMC Boston Common on Tremont Street.
In other Generation Excel News, I'll be kicking off the "WALK Rhode Island" Campaign with Blue Cross in Bristol, RI on Saturday September 15th with my lovely Co-Host (and former Boston Radio personality) Heather Gerston from Lite 92FM. Over 1,500 people are expected to walk the 5 and 10 mile routes along the ocean. Come on out and join us!
Finally some quick congratulations:
First to young Mike Englund from Tampa Bay Florida for losing 23 pounds over the summer at Camp Kingsmont in Amherst, MA. Thanks to your donations and our Marathon Runners we were able to help sponsor Mike to attend this fitness camp. His Mom Joelle tells us he is continuing to lose weight at home where he just started high school. Joelle writes "Mikey looks great! I want to thank you and Generation Excel from the bottom of my heart for supporting me financially and emotionally. I hope we can report more progress as the weeks pass".
Our other congratulations goes out to a lovely lady who has made a stunning turnaround in her life - Heather Hasz from Ayer, Massachusetts. Heather's daughter was one of 200 kids who walked with me during the final days of the "Million Calorie" Florida to Boston walk. A year later I met her Mom at one of my speaking dates in Wellesley - and a year after that she began a successful journey to health. Heather has lost 56 pounds and counting!
"You were my inspiration Heather tells me". Well Heather - you are an inspiration to me!
Keep on Marching! See you at the premiere everybody!
All The Best -
THE MILLION POUND MELTDOWN: GRASSROOTS TEAMS UP WITH CORPORATE AMERICA; EVERYBODY WINS!
Blue Cross Campaign Ends with 50,000 Pounds Lost
Northeastern Pennsylvania's "Million Pound Meltdown" campaign ends this month after a phenomenal 2 year run. Launched in June 2005, it was the first major project for myself and the Generation Excel team after the grassroots Florida to Boston campaign. Re-united a year later, with a new mission, thousands of new friends and an expanded team (thanks to the marketing, community relations and PR departments from Blue Cross who worked tirelessly on the campaign) a fire was lit in the community which will burn long after the billboards have been taken down and the TV commercials have stopped playing.
Part weight loss contest and part obesity awareness campaign, "The Meltdown" picked up where the "Million Calorie March" left off…with a barnstorming 3 week tour throughout the Northern Pennsylvania service area of Blue Cross. Our events at health centers, hospitals, corporations, shopping malls, and YMCA's drew big crowds, bigger enthusiasm and in time an army of success stories all their own. Lives were changed…which is what my entire Florida to Boston walk was about to begin with. With the Blue Cross campaign, our televised "Town Meeting On Childhood Obesity" was innovative to say the least, and our partnerships with everybody from The American Diabetes Association to The Harlem Globetrotters guaranteed "The Meltdown" was a bonafide part of the community. We learned a lot along the way, and while the campaign may not have always reached the highs we'd hoped for…damn if it didn't come close.
Beyond the 50,000 pounds, I believe the idea of healthy lifestyle and well being will orbit the collective consciousness of that community for years to come. In the end Grassroots teamed up with corporate America…and everybody won. On a personal level, I always said that the "Million Pound Meltdown" changed me in ways the "Million Calorie March" did not. I always expected the Florida to Boston walk would put me in constant contact with obese people in the main streets and back roads of America, and it did. But ultimately our schedule and the demands on the road kept me from ever really bonding with people caught in the struggle. There were always radio interviews, speeches, round table discussions, articles to write, logistics to work out and 15-20 mile days to walk - which left precious little time to bond with the people I was trying to inspire. With the Pennsylvania campaign, it was just the opposite. I met people over the course of 2 years whose lives were devastated by this disease. It changes you as a person. Touches your soul. And ultimately builds your resolve to stay in the fight for others…and yourself.
I believe the fire we started in Northeast Pennsylvania could serve as a blue print for a national effort…or at least a catalyst for campaigns in larger markets across the country that will ultimately save lives…and to think it all started in a tiny corner of Pennsylvania.
* * *
In other news thanks to the great turnouts at our events this Spring and Summer. Our film screening and "Million Calorie Challenge" at the Works Health Center was a blast! My keynote speech at the Worksite Health Awards in Rhode Island was a highlight as well (wearing a suit is a refreshing change for me!) From the Lahey Clinic Health Fair to being the MC/ Host for a pharmaceutical company summer kickoff party…it has all been terrific.
Finally in Generation Excel News, thanks to our Boston Marathon Runners we will be helping to send young Mike Englund, from Tampa Florida, to Camp Kingsmont, a weight loss camp in the Berkshires this summer. It happened in part thanks to you!
Until next time America -
May 1, 2007: Spring is Sprung!
Hello everyone and welcome to May. Lots to get to!
First of all, thanks to our fabulous GXL runners for this years Boston Marathon: Steve Zuccaro (4:59) Kelley Melton (4:13:26) and Elliot Kronstein(5:02:51) All three trained hard, raised pledges for Generation Excel and helped spread the word about our mission. In the end they raised over $8,000 for the foundation. We appreciate all those who pledged them. Special thanks as well to the people who worked very hard in the background to assist their efforts: Steve Gray, Andrea Melton and Steve Danehy.
In addition to our awareness efforts, Generation Excel continues to support programs and individuals who are dedicated to educating and inspiring children and adults in the areas of obesity, exercise, and nutrition. The obesity epidemic continues to spiral out of control and there can't be enough help in this area. Please let us hear from you if you have any ideas or programs you think we should know about.
In movie news…as the 105 minute rough cut screens for focus groups around the country (with very positive feedback so far), I'm excited to announce that "Million Calorie March…The Movie" has been accepted into the Boston Film Festival to premiere this September! Now we don't have many details yet, but I can tell you that it will screen at the Loews Boston Common and there will be events built into and around the premiere all week. This includes a big Premiere Night Party and GXL fundraiser at a soon to be announced location in Boston. For those of you who missed the story about the film (and Executive Producer Todd Patkin) in Boston Now, here is the link.
For those of you in the Northern Massachusetts / Southern New Hampshire neck of the woods who can't wait until September, a sneak peek of the film and a really great event is happening this Friday, May 4th at the Works Health Center in Somersworth - the absolute Jurassic Park of health centers. They are hosting a screening of the movie in conjunction with their Million Calorie weight loss contest. Click here for details. This should been an amazing event - a big crowd is expected and the enthusiasm from the employees, to the members to the media has been astonishing.
This type of enthusiasm for health and weight loss is what the Florida to Boston walk was all about to begin with. I'll be on hand to sign copies of "Big & Tall Chronicles" and many members of the film team will be on hand as well.
Finally, on May 31st I'll be the keynote speaker for The 13th Annual Worksite Health Awards-co-sponsored by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI). The awards are designed to recognize those Rhode Island businesses that are working to promote worksite wellness.
Keep checking in for more details. Summer is here!
March/April 2007 - It's a Wrap!
Welcome to March…or Million Calorie MARCH as we call it around the editing studio these days - the month we deliver a completed movie to our team. Thanks to everyone involved in the project these past 2 years - in the end it's the film I'd always hoped it would be. I'm very excited to get to the marketing stage and show people the movie! In the end I hope it will make people THINK - which is what a good documentary is all about, right? Check out the movie poster.
So where does the process go from here? Well, focus groups from Boston to Los Angeles to Hilton Head, SC to Florida will view the film in April - and based on the feedback, final changes will be made to the movie. Once we've achieved "film lock" as I guess they call it in the movie biz, the film moves from Pulse Media back to National Boston where this process all started. They'll handle the finish work - color correction, sound correction, graphics, on-line polish, etc., and make this film look AMAZING. By late Summer 2007 we'll be taking the film on the road to film festivals and premieres all over the country - including one in Boston later this year.
In other Generation Excel news, I had a great time speaking at the Peoplefit Health Center in Woburn earlier this month - thanks to the warm, friendly and enthusiastic crowd who came out. It was a rare chance to speak to the hometown crowd - as I'm on the road most of the year meeting people and doing speaking presentations throughout the country. Next I'll be in R.I. for "National walk at lunch day" for Blue Cross Of Rhode Island on April 18th.
Recently I was sent a fairly new review of my book "Big & Tall Chronicles" from an on-line weight loss and wellness site. It also mentions the upcoming film based on the book. Read the review here.
I continue to get great e-mails on "Big & Tall Chronicles" and I truly hope that "Million Calorie March: The Movie" gives the book a second wind.
For those interested in a sneak peak of the movie - The Works Family Health And Fitness Center (a great facility) is screening the film on May 4th for the public at 7:00 PM. I'll be on hand to host the awards for their on-going weight loss contest…called MILLION CALORIE CHALLENGE! 400 - 500 people are expected so call 603-742-2163 X-27 for information if you are interested. I'm told it's an hour and 20 minutes from Boston and the address is: The Works Family Health and Fitness Club, 246 Route 108, Somersworth, NH 03878
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the sad passing of legendary singer - Brad Delp of "BOSTON" fame. I was a fan of the man from the time their first album came out in 1976 when I was 10 - and in that 30 years I bought it all - the solo albums, the spin-off projects, you name it. I was so motivated by Brad's golden voice and great music I even quoted his 2003 song "It's What You leave Behind" in my book during the chapter concerning my mothers passing.
I recently had the chance to meet and work with Brad - when I was guest hosting the WROR morning show back in December. See photos here. He was far and away one of the sweetest guys I've ever met - you felt like a longtime friend after just 5 minutes in the room with him. I had the chance to give him a copy of the book and show him his quote. He was very touched - even more so because I quoted one of his solo songs. Listen to "It's What You Leave Behind" - it's truly one of the most moving songs ever written.
My prayers are with his family, close friends and band mates at this time. Rest in peace Bradley - you left a lot behind!
Until next time America,
January 2007 - UPDATES? We've got updates!
Happy 2007 All -
I mentioned in one of my last journals the "Shrink & Shrunk" radio pilot I recently completed with Dr. Howard Rankin, author of "Inspired to Lose" and "The TOPS Book On Weight Loss." Click here for photo. Click here to listen to the pilot.
Thanks to the great crowd we had on January 12th at Physicians Professional Services in Medford, MA for the presentation on creating a healthy workplace - we had a blast and feel real change will come of it! Generation Excel has also created a number of Corporate Wellness Seminars to assist the growing number of companies desperately trying to help their employees get on healthier paths. Visit the GXL section or contact us to discuss available shows for the workplace. Let us know if your workplace is interested in a presentation.
The Million Pound Meltdown Campaign with Blue Cross (now at 47,000 pounds lost!) has been extended through June of 2007. When it wraps up, it will have been an unprecedented 2 year obesity awareness campaign and weight loss contest. In the end I think the success of it comes down to one thing - bringing the people who struggle with obesity together as a community and igniting a spark in that community. Of course a few zillion "Meltdown" TV commercials thanks to WBRE-TV (NBC) and WYOU (CBS) don't hurt! I'll see everybody back in that neck of the woods later this winter.
In movie news - how sweet it is to finally be able to see 90 minutes of "Million Calorie March -The Movie!" The team and I are at long last very happy with how the film is coming together and we are confident that all creative changes and last minute additions can be completed this winter. If it seems like the process has taken a long time consider this - most big budget films are 6 years - from development to completion. We hit the 2 year mark in January 2007! A trailer with additional scenes has been added as well. Click here to view all the trailers and stay tuned for details for the 2007 premiere…
Thanks to everyone asking about our new addition - 6 month old Desi James. I'm thrilled to say he's doing fantastic, getting bigger and cuter everyday - Mom and Dad are loving being parents! Click here for the latest photos.
Finally - I'll be performing my presentation "Motivating The Masses: The Million Calorie March" at the PeopleFit Health & Fitness Center in Woburn on March 1st. It's one of the few events I'm involved in that is open to the public. We'll show clips from the film, do Q&A, trivia as well as talk the talk on weight loss and obesity in America.
Please call 781-932-9332 for details or visit their site at www.peoplefit.net . See you there!
All the best -
Clinton's Alliance promises Hope for a healthier tomorrow
Well, we had a terrific follow-up meeting with former President Clinton's Alliance For A Healthier Generation in NYC recently. At no other time have I been so encouraged about the future of our children's health. I've always said that I created Generation Excel to help prevent the future little Gary Marino's out there - and with the former President (and his amazing team - who's members are like him - intelligent, engaged, charismatic and serious about making changes) focused and committed to Childhood Obesity our kids may actually have a fighting chance. Thank you Mr. President.
We talked about ways in which Generation Excel could work with the Alliance - and some interested ideas were discussed. Stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone for the positive reaction to Marching On: The Official Generation Excel newsletter. We've added it to the website as well. Click here to read
I recently did an interview with Boston Magazine about our foundation, film and side projects. The article focused primarily on the journey to health and making positive life changes - it hits the shelves in January.
Finally, to the hometown crowd - I'll be co-hosting the morning show on WROR-FM (105.7) with Comedian Tony V. here in Boston December 26th thru the 30th. Men's Health Writer and Comic Steve Calechman will be joining us as well - in addition to my old friend Hank Morse. It's the first time we've co-hosted a show since our days at KISS 108 / WXKS AM in the late 1980s! The shows are full of guests, interviews, comedy segments - and like everything else I do piled high with all the toppings! Tune in online at www.wror.com if you are not local to the area.
2007 promises to be an exciting year. Thanks to everyone from Generation Excel, Studio G Motion Pictures, Todd Patkin, Julie Marino as well as our extended family at Pulse Media, National Boston and Jimmy Jay Productions as well.
Have safe and Happy Holiday everyone!
All the best-
Working 90 to 5…The MCM Movie
Okay - so forgive me for the bad pun - but 90 hours. That's the total amount of footage "Million Calorie March…The Movie" had accumulated by January 2006. First there were 10 hours of footage detailing my weight loss between 2001 and 2003. Then there was the Florida to Boston Walk footage totaling 40 hours. "Big & Tall Chronicles" scenes from the book which we shot last Fall totaled nearly 30 hours.
And then there was the Boston Marathon, 2006 interviews with Obesity experts and the original members of walk team, flat art, newspaper headlines, and finally b-roll of yours truly back in the "When Bloated Things Happen to Good People" days. Do you get the picture? Thanks to screenplay writer Sandy Jaffe, our re-tooled editing team, and four to five day weeks we've got it down to about 5 hours. Now even I have to admit that's more of me than anyone should have to sit through! Obviously our eye is on getting it under 2 hours. So each day we move forward - creatively cutting where we can and moving the project towards completion by the end of this Fall. It's amazing to think that it was January 2005 when Executive Producer Todd Patkin approached me about completing the movie and putting the Obesity issue out there in a new and unique way.
In other news thanks to everyone who joined myself and Dr. Steve Rothstein for the Annual Diabetes Walk in Pennsylvania on September 30th. In the end we had almost 400 walkers raising funds and awareness for one of the most devastating diseases - triggered in many cases by obesity. We'll be posting photos shortly.
I also recently recorded a radio pilot with my new friend Dr. Howard Rankin called "The Shrink & Shrunk". Howard is obviously the SHRINK, being one of the leading authorities in the area of Obesity and Addictive Disorders - and I'm of course THE SHRUNK of the duo - having lost 150 pounds and constantly struggling to lose more. It makes for an interesting show - with live callers, guests, advice, e-mails, and segments such as "Results Not Typical" - a look at the latest diets on the market. Like everything I do - it's educational and entertaining - the approach I think we need when it comes to this issue. The show is currently being shopped around the country to several radio and TV networks.
Marching On: The Generation Excel Newsletter is due out the last week of October - it's the first edition and it updates all of our supporters on everything going on here at the foundation - including projects, grants, wellness campaigns, etc. It will be available on the website; please send us an email with your address if you would like a hard copy.
Finally - since I'm asked all the time by people "E-mail us a current photo of Desi!" I thought I'd post a few here because anyone who knows me knows my schedule has gone from ridiculous to ludicrous this year!
Best to all -
Million Calorie March celebrates 2nd Anniversary
Well I know it's hard to believe, but the 1200 mile Florida to Boston walk ended two years ago this summer - and not a week goes by when I don't run into someone who asks questions like "Don't you miss the walking?" or "Don't you miss the freedom? The attention?"
Well, unless they've been visiting this site or following what's been going on with Generation Excel it might be hard for them to understand - these have actually been the better years. Although the events of 2004 were substantial and life changing, the couple of years since really have been the better ones.
I recently returned from Pennsylvania where our Million Pound Meltdown campaign with Blue Cross - inspired by our 2004 weight loss walk - has reached over 42,000 pounds lost in that area. Not a week goes by when I don't receive an e-mail from that area from someone whose life has been changed - for the better.
Both campaigns will be featured in "Million Calorie March: The Movie" which I'm happy to say will be completed very soon. Being one of the producers of this film has been truly one of the most challenging - yet satisfying opportunities I've ever had - and I'm forever grateful to Executive Producer Todd G. Patkin, Studio Motion Pictures and everyone else involved in the film. I continue to believe the film may be the biggest contribution to the obesity issue that our foundation may ever make.
In addition to our campaigns we funded some cool programs geared towards childhood obesity this past year - programs such as GoodDeed Health in Los Angeles and Kids Works here in Boston. We may even create our own programs in the coming year.
And it doesn't stop there in terms of looking back: In 2005 my memoir "Big & Tall Chronicles" received it's national release from Hawaii to Boston at Barnes & Noble Bookstores. Much like the Million Pound Meltdown - I continue to get e-mails from different areas of the country from people who truly were inspired by it. I hope that the movie gives "Big & Tall Chronicles" a serious second wind - one which many people think it deserves. I have also begun work on a follow-up entitled "AFTER THE MARCH: Life in the Land of Plenty After The Million Calorie March". Now it's hardly on the fast track my friends - but if you liked "Big & Tall Chronicles" it will be worth the wait. Just try doing what I do for a living these days and struggling with your weight - now that's a story!
Also worth the wait? Our new son Desi James - who continues to make life all the more worth it. As many know I put off having a child for many years feeling I needed to have my health under control first - and that makes his being here that much sweeter. He gets bigger and more beautiful everyday - and being his Dad is going to be an amazing experience.
Upcoming speaking Dates:
October 18, 2006 - MassBay Community College, Wellesley, MA
October 25, 2006 - New England Health & Racquet Sports Club Association, Providence, RI
Look for the first edition of "Marching On," The Generation Excel Foundation newsletter, due out later this Fall. It will update our supporters on all of our activities from 2005 & 2006.
Until next time my friends…
July 7, 2006 - Times…they are a changing!
First all let me thank everyone for the phone calls, e-mails and gifts this past week - it was a week I'll never forget and Julie and I appreciate all of the support.
Desmond James Marino (better known as Des, Desi, DJ, Jamey, Baby Marino, etc) was born on Sunday, July 2nd at 8:30am at Winchester Hospital. He weighed in at 7 lbs 14 ounces (a refreshingly normal weight by Million Calorie March standards!) and is 22 inches long. He is, as any proud Father would say "over the top" cute. Want to see some photos??
Both Mommy & Baby are doing just fine. My big question? Do the nice ladies changing his diapers and taking care of him around the clock at the hospital come home with us when we leave? Does my Blue Cross Insurance cover their services when they live in our house? We'll find out shortly I'm sure. The bottom line is on July 4th while most people I know where outside celebrating their freedom - I was getting ready to surrender mine - some might say for the first time in my 40 years! The bottom line: it's all worth it. Fatherhood is going to be great…even if he turns out to be a little rebel like me…
While we're welcoming young Desi James into the world…let's welcome documentary writer Sandy Jaffe to the team of "Million Calorie March: The Movie". Sandy brings years of experience to the project including 10 years teaching at Emerson College and documentaries such as the award winning film, "Jazz in the Magic City". Sandy will handle the Florida to Boston walk portions or the film - and how they intercut with the back story from "Big & Tall Chronicles". Welcome Sandy to the Million Calorie Monster! (Just kidding)
By the way we are still shooting for a September completion date in order to begin submissions for the film festivals.
In other news, thanks to former President Bill Clinton and his Executive Director for an amazing meeting at the Westin in Boston recently. (click here for photo) In the end the President was everything I'd ever heard…charming, intelligent (remember when we had that in the White House?) and a tremendous ally for fighting childhood obesity. A follow-up meeting in NYC with the Clinton foundation is planned for later this summer to talk further about Generation Excel working with Clinton's "Alliance For A Healthier Generation". Gotta go change diapers now…because times they are a changing!
Until next time America -
May 7, 2006 - Movie Trailers!
Welcome to Spring, all - as promised the promotional movie trailers for Million Calorie March: The Movie are up! Director Jimmy Jay Frieden, editor Kristen Koziarski and myself have been hard at work at National Boston editing the film. We are about to expand on the post-production team, so hopefully we can have the film completed this summer. If that happens look for premieres in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City this Fall.
In other news thanks to the great crowd at my speech to the USDA on May 1st. I really enjoyed all of the great questions from the audience about all aspects of weight loss, obesity, and the projects I'm involved in these days. In the end I was on stage for one hour and 36 minutes so I obviously loved talking to this group. Of course anyone who knows me knows I can't even say hello in an hour and 36!
How about a hand for our Generation Excel Boston Marathon runners Tina Mirabile and Kerri Allen last month! Both had amazing times (5:10:26 for Tina, and 4:46:19 for Kerri!) and raised significant funds for GXL and the programs we are involved in. Thank you both Kerri & Tina - you are an inspiration to me! Who knows…maybe I'll even give it another run some day…
I'm headed back to Northeastern Pennsylvania this week for more Million Pound Meltdown Madness - but the event I'm most looking forward to is meeting former President Bill Clinton on May 13th to talk about childhood obesity and the amazing changes his foundation. I was already a fan - but the deal the Clinton Foundation recently put together to remove sugary soft drinks from schools is in my opinion nothing short of amazing!
Do you want to know what else is amazing? The next time I update this journal I'll most likely be a Dad. Now even I'm speechless!
Until next time America -
March 16, 2006 - Meltdown Hits 32,000 Pounds!
It gets more and more fun with each trip. With each pound lost and each Blue Cross tour I embark on with "The Million Pound Meltdown" in Northeastern Pennsylvania, it simply gets more and more fun. More importantly, the people of NEPA get more and more healthy with each month this unique weight loss contest / obesity campaign continues. Dr. Steve and I spoke to great crowds at corporations such as Guard Insurance and The Scranton Community Medical Center last week. In terms of public events, we marched in the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick's Day Parades, greeted crowds at the Harlem Globetrotters Games at the Wachovia Center and appeared with "Meltdown" success stories on NBC's "Pennsylvania Morning" on WBRE / WYOU. The second round of $1000 winners were awarded their checks from WBRE/WYOU (as well as a copy of Big & Tall Chronicles!). Here's the bottom line: 32,000 pounds can't be wrong my friends - HELLO other healthcare providers in other states!
Before I arrived back in Pennsylvania, I spent a week at The Hilton Head Health Institute in South Carolina studying the root causes of stress and emotional eating. The Hilton Head Health Instutute (H3I) is one of the top places of it's kind in the country - and now I know why. It was an amazing week and I had quite a breakthrough in terms of learning how to manage stress and control my emotional eating. The classes, instructors, fitness classes created a haven to concentrate on my health issues and for folks caught in the struggle I can't say enough. So why did I attend H3I? Very simple - the struggle to lose weight and keep it off is never over my friends. It didn't end when I lost 150 pounds with the help of a nutritionist, fitness trainer and therapist. It didn't end when I hit the finish line of The Million Calorie March a year and a half ago. It didn't end when I completed the Boston Marathon last April and it won't end when the amazing Million Pound Meltdown campaign ends in Pennsylvania. The journey to health never really ends. To quote Dr. Howard Rankin, one of the innovative teachers at H3I, "I don't want you to be overwhelmed by this…just welmed". The good news is I've lost the weight I gained over the holidays and I'm down 15 pounds since February. AND I learned something very important about my struggle at H3I. Basically that I lost 150 pounds through sheer determination, exercise and good nutrition - but fixing the emotional eating is the final piece of a long puzzle for me AND I'm closer now to achieving my weight loss goals than I ever have. If you are an emotional/stress eater (as studies continue to show most of us are) check out The Hilton Head Health Institute if you get a chance.
Speaking of stress - have I mentioned how stressful movie-making is? Good Lord, "The Million Calorie March" film is a lot of work - but it's coming together extremely well! National Boston's talented editors have been doing a great job helping to make a unique film about weight loss, and director Jimmy Jay Frieden brings passion, creativeness and hard work to the studio everyday. Grammy nominee Jon Butcher continues to record great music for the film at his Electric Factory Studios in L.A.. Finally, if I haven't said it enough - thankyou, thankyou, thankyou to all of the actors, families, and supporters who helped us film the scenes from "Big & Tall Chronicles" these past 5 months. Look for promotional movie trailers on this site next month!
One last note - how about a hand for our marathon runners Tina Mirabile and Kerri Allen! This dynamic duo have been not only training hard, but they've done a great job at raising funds for Generation Excel's projects this year. The fundraiser they put on at the Vault in Boston raised almost $2,000. If you wish to pledge Tina and Kerri for Generation Excel, please contact email@example.com. All funds raised go directly to anti-obesity programs for kids and parents. And wish them luck on April 17th!
Until next time America…
January 26, 2006 - Two big Productions This Year!
Well - I've been talking a lot lately about the long awaited completion of Million Calorie March: The Movie this spring, but recently, I found out there was a bigger production underway here in 2006. It seems Julie Lynn, who has been the true hero behind all of my projects the past two years, will be having a baby in June! Obviously we're over the moon with the news. I've never expressed anything but pure rapture at the thought of becoming a dad. Publicly, I've always said I'd start a family when I felt I'd achieved a certain degree of health (see Big & Tall Chronicles, page #248!) and that moment occurred for me when I hit those finish lines in 2004 and 2005 - that being The Million Calorie March and Boston Marathon respectively. Mom to be is doing fine - a little nausea - but hey - she lives with me!
In film news, Million Calorie March: The Movie is officially in post production at National Boston - a stellar production house with a long history of producing top notch films and videos. Producer/Director Jimmy Jay Freiden, who directed the "Big & Tall Chronicles" scenes we shot last fall, will oversee the post-production process, including digital editing, color and sound correction and all aspects of finishing the film.
The amazing Million Pound Meltdown Campaign continues in Pennsylvania - with 26,000+ pounds lost to date. I'll be returning to that part of the world in March.
In other news, there will be a fundraiser for Generation Excel on Friday, February 24th from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at The Vault in Boston (105 Water Street, 617-292-3355). Anyone is welcome; a $25 donation is requested. Please join us if you can to show your support!
Boston Marathon runners Tina Mirabile and Kerri Allen, our hosts for the evening, are running the race to raise funds for the foundation this year.
Will I be joining them for the Marathon this year? Well, stranger things have been known to happen…but for now I'll leave the running to the runners!
Upcoming speaking dates include:
Acton Board of Health, Merrimac College. March 15, 2006
USDA, Sturbridge, MA. May 1, 2006 - Speech to case workers.
Final thought for the day? Tis' the season for those of us who hit the wall over the holidays to restart the weight loss fire and remember that Spring is right around the corner. I mean right around the corner. It's easy to fall into a winter funk between the cold and snowy weather and dressing like Eskimos! The reality is this is spring training for the dieters out there. Do the right thing today for yourself and you'll be loving life when the warm weather arrives!
All my best-
2005…Where Did It Go?
Happy holidays to everyone -
Just when I find myself asking how the year 2005 came and went so fast it occurs to me very quickly: an online video conference in over 200 schools (LivinFit.com); an obesity awareness campaign and weight loss contest in Pennsylvania (The Million Pound Meltdown); a full length feature film about the trials and tribulations of losing weight (Million Calorie March - The Movie); a national release and promotion for my book at Barnes & Noble (Big & Tall Chronicles: Misadventures of a Lifelong Food Addict!); producing a TV pilot for a 24 hour Diet Network launching next year ("Lighten Up with Gary & Kelly!")with Kelly MacFarland; funding Generation Excel and supporting childhood obesity programs from Boston to Los Angeles - oh, and did I mention running the Boston Marathon?
What a year - I guess I do see where this year went time wise! Did you notice one thing I didn't list in terms of accomplishments? Achieving my weight loss goal: 2005 is the first year since 2001 there will be no 30 - 40 pound weight loss. What happened? A predicable plateau? Maybe my aggressive schedule knocked me off my game a little? Perhaps I've "lost the fire" after 4 years of eating "healthy" and exercising? Maybe in the end I'm battling one of the most complex diseases known to mankind - obesity. Perhaps the answer is in all of these combined. I don't know - I only know that maintaining the bulk of my 160 pound weightloss is a victory in itself. I also know that in 2006 I'll try harder than ever before - to control my eating and exercise vigorously. The Million Calorie March taught me to keep moving down the road of life and look forward - and that's what I intend to do. I'll study my eating habits that much more. Push my workouts to places they've never been before. I'll keep seeing my support team (nutritionist, therapist and fitness trainer) and continue to dissect this very difficult problem. As I've said all along, in the end it's really about achieving health - something I did in 2004 and 2005.
Here's the best part of this past year: over 24,000 pounds were lost due to The Million Pound Meltdown campaign we launched with Blue Cross last summer. We're talking real lives here being positively affected. In the end it's the most important thing we accomplished this year. If other healthcare companies throughout the U.S. can take notice of what's gone on in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the country will be better off. Thanks to everyone involved in that very special effort. By the way we've added a highlight video on the Million Pound Meltdown section of this website.
Finally, as far as the "Million Calorie March" movie, 7 out of 10 scenes from "Big & Tall Chronicles" are "in the can" as they say, and the final three will be shot in the January / February time period. Post-production editing will be underway then as well. Thanks to everyone who worked on the movie with us this year. I've always said that the film has a purpose beyond traditional movie making purposes - and may just be the breakthrough picture the obesity epidemic needs right now - to create real change through the media and entertainment worlds.
Happy New Year everybody - and thanks again for visiting this website!
November 23, 2005 - Move Over "Supersize Me!"
Well, the first three film shoots for the Million Calorie March Film are in the can and the footage couldn't be better. Director Jimmy Jay Freiden and his production team have done an amazing job of bringing "Big & Tall Chronicles" to life. The scenes - 10 in all - will appear as flashbacks within the documentary footage of my Florida-to-Boston walk. The scenes we've picked are designed to show viewers why I undertook the 1,205 mile Million Calorie March in the first place. I'm very encouraged by the filming so far, and Nicky Sestito, the young 11 year old playing me at that age, has done a spectacular acting job and handling the 12+ hour days. It's been a long year working on this film, and I'm excited to finally see it come together. Why? Because I truly believe that the film has a purpose - beyond the traditional reasons people make movies. When "Million Calorie March - The Movie" is completed this winter, it will be a unique film about the struggle 65% of Americans are living with everyday. Like many movies currently playing in the movieplexes, it will be entertaining with a humorous edge (like the book itself) however it will be motivational, inspirational and educational. Within the storyline of the first cross country weight loss walk for obesity, viewers will understand a little more about my life and why things happened for me the way they did. From early childhood influences, to attempts I made to lose weight, how it negatively affected my life and finally how I turned it around with a 150 pound weight loss -all will appear as dual storylines during the walk I completed in 2004.
If our post-production and editing schedule goes well this winter, we will hit the film festival circuit with the movie in Spring of 2006. Digital photos from the set are on line on the "Million Calorie Movie" page.
In other news, congratulations to the round one winners of Pennsylvania's Million Pound Meltdown Campaign for their weight loss! You can visit WBRE to see the $1,000 prize winners. To date people in that state have lost almost 23,000 pounds since Blue Cross, WYOU,WBRE and the Generation Excel Team kicked off the effort earlier this year. The Meltdown has gone so well it seems to have surprised even us! More importantly, I continue to receive e-mails everyday from participants of the Meltdown - thankful to have their health back. Whenever I return to Pennsylvania - as I do every couple of months - I meet these people face to face, and I recognize the looks on their faces. The looks of individuals who are slowly defeating a very complex problem and living their lives the way they were meant to be lived. For me, in the end, the chance to inspire events like the Million Pound Meltdown is what my walk in 2004 was all about in the first place.
Finally last month, thanks to a new distribution deal with John Harrision and Epilog Books, "Big & Tall Chronicles" will be available at hospital gift shops and health center bookstores in the new England area. Places like Massachusetts General, Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center and Lahey Clinc in Burlington. An awkward gift book you say? Well consider this - some bookstores carry it in the Humor section as well so go with that angle if it works!
Have a great - but healthy - holiday everybody!
All my best -
October 7, 2005 - IMAGINE THAT…IMAGINE THIS…
Well, as the saying goes "what a difference a year makes". In October 2004 - the Generation Excel Foundation was over $7,000 in debt and the documentary film "Million Calorie March" was adrift and with no funds to complete the project. As a result the movie was in danger of being permanently shelved. Despite an amazing awareness campaign from Florida to Boston in 2004, our expenses had run high and donations had run low and the foundation's future was in doubt. We did however work hard to turn the situation around and KEEP THE FAITH.
Well one year later Generation Excel is not only alive (thanks to our Boston Marathon runners, The Million Pound Meltdown and scores of book sales and speaking dates) but we are holding board meetings and funding nutrition and children's fitness programs from Boston to Los Angeles. Programs such as "KidWorks" in Lawrence, Massachusetts; "Fitness Rules in Weymouth Schools" on the south shore; and "Goodeed Health" of Los Angeles. IMAGINE THAT?
Now IMAGINE THIS: Todd G. Patkin and myself have formed Studio G. Motion Pictures and one year later are expanding the film from a straight documentary to a Bio Picture. Grammy nominee Jon Butcher (HBO's "Deadwood") has signed on as Music Supervisor and is sound tracking the film. Film consultant David Klieler is on board to work his magic and shape the picture and now 10 scenes from my book "Big & Tall Chronicles" are being adapted for film and re-created (to be used as flashbacks during the Florida to Boston walk). I hope this comes as exciting news to all those who have read the book and e-mailed us over the past year. Plans are moving along quickly with casting calls; location scouting and screen play writing all through out the month of October. Shooting is tentatively scheduled to begin in mid-November, and editing and post-production will begin again after the holidays with our eye on completing the film by March of 2006.
Here in 2005, things aren't so bad either. I had a great audience for my keynote speech at The Community Health Network in Taunton on September 20th. Major Michael McGlynn and I led a community walk through my hometown of Medford for the first "Massachusetts On The Move" Campaign a week later. Nice to be recognized by the hometown after 1205 miles! Around Halloween time I return to another place near and dear to my heart: Pennsylvania. 'The Million Pound Meltdown" campaign I'm doing for Blue Cross has just reached the 20,000 lbs. mark (pounds lost that is!) and I think I'm more proud of that than anything this year. Can I say it one more time?
What a difference a year makes, people!
September 13, 2005 - Fall Begins!
Fall? What happened to summer? Well, this one's for sure - it was a good one for Generation Excel and the projects we're involved in. The "Town Meeting On Childhood Obesity" at the University of Scranton was an interesting and informative break through for this first of it's kind obesity awareness campaign. The TV special we taped it for aired on WYOU (CBS) and WBRE (NBC).
During my return trip to Pennsylvania, Dr. Steve Rothstein and myself did a quick corporate tour - visiting companies looking to create more wellness in the workplace. The audiences at Wise Foods and Pride Mobility were terrific! The Million Pound Meltdown Campaign continues on through spring 2006 and I'll be returning to that area later this Fall. There is also talk about other weight loss & obesity awareness campaigns in New York, Los Angeles and other parts of the country as well.
Speaking of New York - as I write this journal I'm on my way to NYC for meetings with a TV network about developing a show around The Million Calorie March concept. Whatever comes from it (I'm no stranger to the business after 10 years with Harmon-Marino) I'll always look back at these times as nothing short of surreal. A negative that dogged me for 20 years is slowly becoming a positive. Just look at what else is happening this month: Generation Excel, the foundation Julie and I founded last year will hold its first board meeting on September 21. The foundation was just a dream back in 2001 - along with The Million Calorie March (which went on to reach 70,000,000 people as an awareness campaign). We are excited to be able to fund obesity programs and fitness initiatives to help people get healthy! And we will be awarding up to $20,000 thanks to funds raised by our Boston Marathon runners and Million Pound Meltdown efforts. It has taken an amazing amount of work to even get things to this point - but we're here and doing our part to make a difference. Hopefully it's only the beginning.
Here in Boston some cool things are happening too. I'll be joining Mayor Michael McGlynn hosting and speaking at the America On The Move event in my hometown of Medford on September 28. My keynote speech to the Community Heath Network is September 20. And, I'll be hosting a comedy night to benefit Loaves & Fishes on October 22 in Shirley, Mass.
On a personal note I am focusing like a laser beam on losing another 30 to 40 pounds by the end of this year. I've suceesfully maintained 150+ pounds for a year now - and as pledged to the good people of Pennsylvania as well as myself - it's time to lose the final 40 (or the vanity 40 as I like to say!)
Keep strong - see you soon!
August 22, 2005 - Second Leg of "Meltdown" tour and Childhood Obesity Town Meeting
I'm back from the Electric Factory studios in Los Angeles, where the music for the "Million Calorie March" documentary is so good I'm under pressure to make the movie as good as the soundtrack! Jon Butcher and his studio partner Ben Schultz have come up with an amazing "Hollywood" soundtrack for the film - including blues, acoustic, mandolin, banjo (for the southern states), keyboards and of course plenty of signature Jon Butcher rock & roll tunes. Post-production and editing continues through the fall in Boston. I also met with some great people while I was on the west coast involved in the health effort in Los Angeles. California has the number 1 fastest growing obesity problem in the United States right now - and with any luck we'll bring a "Meltdown" or "Million Calorie" tour there next year as well..
Thanks to all who attended the recent book signings for "Big & Tall Chronicles" at Barnes & Nobles bookstores in Natick and Framingham as well as Knowfat Lifestyle Grill in Worchester. I was encouraged by how many guys showed up for a change! (see "Gary Weighs In" from June). Also thanks to all the radio stations who had me on to promote the signings including WATD, WTKK, WCRN, WXLO and others.
I heading back to Pennsylvania today for the second leg of the "Million Pound Meltdown" tour which includes stops at companies such as Wise Foods, Pride Mobility and others. It will be good to get back out on the road with Dr. Steve Rothstien and the entire crew from Blue Cross of NEPA - and to see all the great people I met when we kicked off the effort there back in June. The highlight of this coming week's event is the "Town Meeting on Childhood Obesity" at the University Of Scranton. Simply put - this is the event parents have been waiting for - a chance to get expert advice for their kids.
For details visit www.millionpoundmeltdown.com. It's yet another first for this groundbreaking campaign and one I'm very proud to be participating in. The entire town meeting - which includes experts in all areas of pediatric obesity - will be taped for a special to air on WBRE and WYOU, the local NBC & CBS affiliates. Hosting the event is Pennsylvania Morning's Kerry Shahen, my adorable co-host for The Million Pound Meltdown.
If you're in that corner of the world we'll see you there!
All the best-
July 31, 2005 - "Off the road and into the summer"
I'm back home in Boston for a bit and I'm hoping to do a little "melting" of my own this summer. Sorry for the lack of updates since I returned from the "walking and talking tour" of Pennsylvania. I only wish I was as "spread thin" physically as I am mentally these days!
The Million Pound Meltdown effort in Pennsylvania is an absolute rocket ride and I couldn't think of a better place to be a year after The Million Calorie March ended. It is not only an amazing obesity awareness campaign, but it broke through to people in a very real way. Just read the journals from the "kickoff tour" and you'll see what I mean. The weight loss contest goes through October and I'll be back in that corner of the world to host the $1000 awards with WBRE and WYOU. There are also childhood obesity initiatives being planned for late August and September that I'll be participating in as well.
The people of northeastern Pennsylvania have treated me as one of their own and I'm grateful to all for the e-mails from everyone who's been inspired and motivated. Blue Cross, WYOU and WBRE are thrilled at everybody's success. Over 10,000 pounds have been lost so far! Finally, we just started taping new TV segments that will air on the local CBS and NBC stations called "Weighed, Measured and Melted with Gary". These one minute Andy Rooney meets E!s Talk Soup segments will air during the morning, afternoon and evening newscasts and will feature my pledge to lose 40 more pounds (I'm down 4lbs since the "Meltdown" effort began) and educate the thousands who have registered for the Million Pound Meltdown on the realities of losing weight here in the "land of plenty".
Here in Boston things continue to be busy as well. I'll be doing "Big & Tall Chronicles" booksignings at Barnes & Noble stores in August (B&N in Framingham on Thursday, August 18 at 7:00 PM; and B&N Hingham on August 19 at 6:00 PM), and at Knowfat Lifestyle Grill in Shrewsbury on August 16. I'll be promoting the appearences on radio stations WROR, WZLX, WFNX, WCRN, WXLO, WBZ and others in August. Earlier this summer I-Universe Publishing - who published the book and sponsored last year's walk posted "Big & Tall Chronicles" on their website as one of their top sellers! It's available in the Biographies section. You can't miss it - it's the one with the crime scene tape wrapped around the pizza and the donut with the surgeon general's warning!
In other news I'll be the keynote speaker for the GATHER/GTHHSC Annual Meeting on September 20th in Taunton. Earlier this year when I spoke to a different CHN area, the health commissioner who followed my speech said "I hope you don't take this the wrong way Mr. Marino - but I hope we see much more of you in the future - you are a true public health servant!"
Finally I'm heading to The Electric Factory studios in Los Angeles this week to work with writer, recording artist and producer Jon Butcher on music scores for the "Million Calorie March" documentary film. Visit www.jonbutcher.com and see what a boost this is for the movie! Jon has written some amazing songs including "Crazy", which will be a music video featuring him, fellow performer and writer Ben and footage from last year's cross country walk. The music video will be submitted to music channels and appear as a bonus track on both the documentary DVD and Jon's upcoming live DVD, which will be taped August 13th at The Natick Center for the Arts. See www.natickarts.org for tickets. Jon recently talked about our collaborating on the film: "Gary is a dynamic force of nature, and I was captivated by him and his concept for the movie from the very first time we met. I personally love the comedic-documentary format, like Supersize Me. Of course, Michael Moore has proven that serious subjects can be presented in a thoroughly entertaining way, and I think people will be knocked out by Garys' movie."
Jon and I have become fast friends and I've been a fan of his work since my days as a student at Salem State College in the late 1980's. What can I say - had I known it was going to be this much fun I would have lost the weight a long time ago!
See you soon and keep it healthy!
June 7, 2005: - Back to the Front
“Million Pound Meltdown Tour” hits the road
Hello Northeastern Pennsylvania!
My people of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese. My land of the Hershey’s Chocolate Factory. The state that made Philly Cheese steak an American cultural icon.
Yesterday’s 397-pound food addict is today’s 245-pound healthy crusader for change. After turning my life around through sensible weight loss and exercise in 2001, 02 & 03, walking from Florida to Boston in 2004 and running the Boston Marathon in 2005, I’ve come here to light a fire under countless people in this area who have lost hope.
The obesity statistics here are above the national average – and the stakes have simply never been higher. Blue Cross, WYOU and WBRE have teamed up to launch an unprecedented campaign for this area: The Million Pound Meltdown.
It is an amazing public health movement Blue Cross has initiated, and we are here to help you, educate you and inspire you in a way which hasn’t been done before. This 11 month effort to turn this area’s obesity epidemic around begins with a two week "walking and talking tour" through all 13 counties. We already know the negative effects of obesity -- in fact, many of us are living with those symptoms. Lots of folks have developed Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea (which I suffered from) and the 51 diseases associated with obesity.
But I’m also here to encourage people to look in the mirror and ask themselves about the other thing obesity negatively affects: the day-to-day quality of your life. I know in my case, carrying 397 pounds around affected everything I did from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed.
My ability to think clearly, to have energy to get through each day and enjoy my life. My health was not uneffected, either: I developed Sleep Apnea - a deadly disorder which affected my breathing. As a result I couldn’t even find salvation and comfort in sleeping at night. It wasn't until I was in my early 30's that I finally looked in the mirror and faced the truth. I realized that eating all those foods I loved simply wasn’t worth it. There was only one "positive" in being obese: I could eat all the food I wanted everyday. The world was my own personal buffet. As a result, everything else in my life -- from A to Z -- was negatively affected. Everything.
Well, five years, 150 pounds and 1,200 miles later I’ve got my health – and that’s the message I’ll bring to the people here in Northeastern Pennaylvania. Focus on health – not simply weight loss. Focus on the long term solution verses the short term fix. And be sure and sign up for the Million Pound Meltdown challenge. I know I would have loved this chance back in my 397 lb. days.
I come to this area not as a celebrity, a sports star or a pitchman for any particular diet – just your next door neighbor who managed to turn his life around and wants you to do the same.
People like the cab driver who drove me into Wilkes-Barre two weeks ago. And the sweet woman whose mini-van key was jammed in her door lock outside the Wackovia Arena. And two Blue Cross employees who have already shared their stories with me and who have pledged to take the first important steps towards health.
Together, here in this corner of Pennsylvania, we just may start a movement that could change America. For the better.
See you on the road!
May 31, 2005 - The Surreal Month
May wraps up with a smile - it's been a magical time for both Generation Excel and myself. The families and kids we continue to help and support are making great progress through healthy eating, re-approaching exercise with a new attitude and educating themselves as much as possible. Based on the e-mails and phone calls - we are changing peoples live in a positive way, which was what last year's cross country walk was all about to begin with. In time, we hope to be able to do more for the masses - but for a start-up foundation we're accomplishing some good things. What Todd Patkin and I started back in the Fall of 2003 is doing what we had hoped it would do.
So what else made this month "magical"? Well I've been back and forth to Pennsylvania a lot lately gearing up for the upcoming "Million Pound Meltdown". The folks at Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (presenting sponsor), WYOU and WBRE (media sponsors) are excited, engaged and passionate about having an impact on that area's obesity problem. PSA's and promos are already running, morning radio and talk shows are buzzing, and the print media has kicked in a full two weeks before we even blast off. The Blue Cross team and TV teams have already gone above and beyond the call of duty - working hard behind the scenes and pulling this campaign together in an amazingly fast amount of time. I've made a lot of friends already and judging from the people who called in to the radio stations this week and the folks calling the Million Pound Meltdown Hotline - we just may start a movement in June in of '05 that could spread nationally. And it all may begin in this little corner of the world.
In other news the crew from TRG Productions and myself were taping promos for the upcoming walk in Boston's Downtown Crossing earlier this month when I stumbled into Barnes & Noble during a shooting break. There on the shelf was "Big & Tall Chronicles", my 254-page memoir that began as pure slice of therapy back in late 2001. How's that for surreal? The book enjoyed its national release this month - and I'll be promoting it a lot this summer.
I was the keynote speaker for The Community Health Network on May 18th at The Gateway Center in Wellesley. Harvard-Pilgrim sponsored the event and the audience was simply fantastic - right down to the woman who wanted to hire me after for her "family party". As flattered as I was, I had to explain that I wasn't a comedian! After the Q & A session the health commissioner presented me with a beautiful award for my efforts to bring awareness to the obesity epidemic. For a guy who wouldn't even talk about weight problems 4 years ago - you can understand the "surrealness" of it all for me.
And it didn't stop there. In New York City two days later I took meetings about things I never would have imagined back when I first developed my weight problem in the late 70's and early 80's. Now unfortunately can't get into it all now - but let's just say we may be bringing the "Million Calorie March" and "Million Pound Meltdown" approach to the masses in 2006! Stay tuned.
Finally, we added a new and very significant team member to the "Million Calorie March" documentary film project this week. Now I always have said I wanted a strong music soundtrack for the film - after all as I say in the book "music is motivating!" Early on I approached talented local Boston acts such as The Swinging Steaks (who played my finish line last July) and Mark Morris. Always on my shortlist was Jon Butcher - who recorded with the Jon Butcher Axis and as a solo artist during my high school and college years. These days Jon lives in L.A. and writes and records film scores for networks such as HBO and major film studios (visit www.jonbutcher.com). I was always a fan of his music - but since meeting him at a benefit concert on May 14th I've become a fan of the man himself. We've become fast friends and I'm thrilled to have him on board as Music Supervisor, consultant and performer on the documentary soundtrack. I'll be joining Jon on the west coast in his 'Electric Factory" studio when my Pennsylvania walk wraps . There, we'll begin the process of choosing original music scores for the film. There's not too much Jon Butcher ever did that I didn't like - so this will be the easiest part of the movie! The film is tentatively scheduled to be ready by mid-September.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg! All in all not a bad month, huh? I'm off to Pennsylvania again this week with my new friend "Mo" - as in "Momentum". We'll be talking to the print outlets and radio stations gearing up for the "Meltdown" kickoff on June 8th.
Till next time America - as always thank you for your support!
May 1, 2005 - It looks like we're putting The Band back together!
Well, as Dan Akroyd said in the Blues Brothers movie 25 years ago, "we're putting the band back together". Team Generation Excel is hitting the road again in the summer of 2005 for yet another awareness walk - this time around the state of Pennsylvania - a state where the obesity statistics suggest the people are very much in need of inspiration. That's right, gang - a major health care provider in Pennsylvania is bringing us in for what's being billed as "The Million Pound Meltdown" - an innovative and unprecedented obesity awareness and prevention campaign with yours truly hosting the events, leading the walks and doing the talks thru 13 massive counties in northern Pennsylvania. AND I'm thrilled to report that last year's "Million Calorie March" road managers Russ Surette and Daniel "The Kid" Jones are back on board - as well as new team member and logistics wizard Ed Mangiaratti.
The event is tentatively scheduled to kick off June 6th in Wilkes-Barre and moves 10 miles per day from there through Scranton and other areas north of Philadelphia. The walks will be very interactive - with large and small groups pretty much everyday. Attached to the walk is a unique weight loss contest, which includes amazing cash prizes and incentives. Where was this type if thing back when I was nearly 400 lbs? It doesn't matter - all that matters is that it's here now thanks to a company with the vision to do it. The message here is clear - at long last corporate America is stepping up to the plate to do something about the country's obesity epidemic.
Both NBC and CBS are on board for daily coverage - as are the area's radio stations and print publications. In the communities we'll be walking through, there are weigh-ins and events almost daily. I'll be kicking off the contest (which lasts through the summer) in all 13 counties - and then returning to the state in September to close out the contest and award the winners - who in the end will have won so much more than money. They'll have their health and be living life the way it was meant to be lived. In a sense the real winners are the people of Pennsylvania - who can benefit from a wellness effort created by a major health care carrier.
I can't say enough how excited I am to be taking part in this effort. Almost year ago when I announced my walk at press conferences in Boston and Jacksonville, I talked about the need for massive obesity prevention campaigns - similar to the anti-smoking campaigns - to help turn the obesity epidemic around. The Million Calorie March (which was primarily funded with the help of philanthropist Todd Patkin) may have been a cog in the wheel - but to see a health care company like this creating this type of an inspirational and educational campaign is truly remarkable. I for one will help in anyway I can because the stakes have simply never been higher.
I'll be heading for Pennsylvania two weeks before the event kicks off to promote it with the media - and the "Million Pound Meltdown" road team arrives shortly thereafter. Like last year's walk we'll update this website frequently with journals and digital photos and stories from the road - and an official "Million Pound Meltdown" website for this event will be up very shortly. My message to the people of Pennsylvania? Limber up and get ready folks - you'll need loose limbs to catch us in the summer of 2005!
April 19, 2005 - Do you believe in Miracles?
Boston Marathon 2005. Even I'm shocked by this one, folks. Early Monday evening myself, Bob Devasto and Russ Surette (who walked the first 200 miles of The Million Calorie March this time last year) crossed the finish line of The 109th Boston Marathon - and shot the final scenes of the "Million Calorie March" Documentary. Now you may not see me back anytime soon - but the experience was one of the most invigorating of my life. Part of the "invigorating" part comes from the absolute surealness of it all.
Why so surreal? Well anyone who read my book can understand I'm sure. When I think about the late 1990's and how resigned I was to the fact that obesity was killing me - it's nothing short of surreal and wonderful to find myself lining up at the starting line in Hopkinton. Just 4 years ago I would get injured WATCHING the Marathon on TV - and now here I was, runner number #20488 participating in one of the great sporting events of all time.
My actual time wasn't important - as I've said all along my race was a different race. It was against Obesity. And myself. And other people's ignorance of it.
In the end we ran from Hopkinton to Natick and power-walked it in from there. Part of the "invigorating" part came from making it to certain points along the route and realizing I was feeling better and making better time than during the training we did on the actual route - and the other part came from the crowd. I simply could not get over how many people yelled out "Million Calorie March!" or "Jacksonville to Boston" as we ran by. I've always joked about my "cult" following these days - but I was truly amazed and inspired by all of those people. The line that inspired me the most was around mile 8 in Framingham…when a guy yelled out to me "Remember Pain is temporary - Pride is forever". Truer words were never spoken…
But this was more than about me - it was a team effort through & through.. Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray supported us in every way and made himself available to my constant questions and e-mails right up until race day. Sports medicine doc Jake Kennedy did his magic on my chin splints and foot problems which developed during my training. Hopkinton resident Keith Rowe and his wife heard me on WROR's "Loren & Wally Show" and offered his home to the entire Generation Excel Team on race day. Gen Excel runners Vin & Krista Zarella, Brett Johnston and Bob Devasto did a great job of getting pledges and raising funds for the after-school fitness programs we'll be launching this summer. The camera and support crew of Jeff Schmidt, Tara Heggart, Julie Marino and my old friend Jimmy Harrington were nothing short of impeccable.
Scott Bernstein, Keith Gainesboro and Megan from TRP Marketing supported me in everyway and got the Generation Excel Team coverage on the FOX Morning Show, Boston Herald and countless radio stations.
And finally, Russell Surette, my friend and former road manager came thru as he always has - keeping me motivated and moving down the road during yet another crazy goal - The 2005 Boston Marathon.
April 5, 2005: Million Calorie… Marathon?
So there I was last December having a nice low key lunch with some friends at the Café Escadrille in Burlington when they threw out the challenge: "Why don't you run the marathon with us this year?" I laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea and answered "What makes you think walking from Florida to Boston makes me a marathon runner now?"
And then I thought about it. The 1200 mile walk had conditioned me very well. (I may very well be the healthiest 245 pound guy in the country thanks to that cross country trek). I was also beginning to incorporate running into my daily 5 to 15 mile walks. Finally and most importantly - I needed a new goal. Never one to back down from the challenge I jumped in. Hey the word "idiots" has taken on a new and positive meaning ever since the Red Sox won the World Series, right? Of course I had no idea this would be the worst winter in recent times to try to get outside and train for the Boston Marathon. So why am I doing it?
You need goals folks. And I still struggle with this disease. I didn't return from the Million Calorie March last year and become a male model. That's not the reality of obesity. You don't simply go on a diet - lose the weight - and then get on with your life by eating all those foods you've been missing. When I returned last July I weighed 245 pounds. I've since gained and lost the same 10 pounds every month. Some might say that's a victory - because in the time it's taken me to keep the bulk of my 150 weight loss off most people -statistically- would have put it back on plus more. A nutritionist might even say I've carved one hell of a maintenance plan out for myself. Either way, in 2005, I'm preparing to jump on what I'm calling my "Last 45 Pound Train To Clarksville". The 26.2 mile Boston Marathon on April 18th will be the start of the last leg of my weight loss journey. My hope is to break 200 lbs later this year for the first time since I was 17. So hello Hopkinton. Bring it on.
Make no mistakes about it - this time it's personal. This is not an "awareness campaign" like last year's trek of the eastern seaboard. I got more attention in 2004 to last a lifetime. This is about setting goals so I can keep on track with my health game. And I have no doubts about it - the winner will be shaved, showered, have his check cashed and be on the plane back home before I cross that finish line on Boylston Street well into Monday evening. But my race is a different race. It's against obesity and myself. If it inspires you great. If you choose to criticize my decision to do it than that's fine as well. Just be prepared to meet me out on that marathon starting line and put your money where your mouth is! Then jump on a plane and walk home from Jacksonville, Florida and I guess I'll listen to you if you want me to.
To those who have followed Generation Excel for the past year - feel free to pledge any of the other runner's running for our foundation. Vincent and Krista Zarella. Brette and Bob Devasto. They are truly amazing people who have a lot of heart and fortitude. Follow this link to pledge them.
Got to sign off now (training to do!) but before I do - my speaking presentation at The Center for Weight Control at Caritas St.
Elizabeth's Medical Center is April 19th at 5pm. Yes - the day after the marathon. They may wheel me in on a bed, but I'll be there! Call 617-562-7474 for details. Two days before that, on Saturday the 16th Hank Morse from WROR and WTKK and myself will be at Best Sellers Café in Medford Square for a "Big and Tall Chronicles" signing. Call Best Sellers at 781-391-7171 for details.
See you there!
March 24, 2005: Updates
Hey Gang -
How about that Seattle to Boston red eye flight huh? Now I might be walking around like a zombie today, but take it from me…the first date with the G.E. Health Tour was worth it! We did three shows in the lecture /cooking demonstration trucks - and then I led a walk around the upper level of Quest Field (where the Seattle Seahawks play) with an enthusiastic crowd. It was cool to meet people from as far as Washington State who followed last year's Million Calorie March event. We've added a few photos, with more to come this week. Thanks to producer Stephen Warshaw and sponsors Dannon Yogurt and SlimFast for bringing me in. The next date is April 9th and 10 in Philadelphia -one of my favorite cities during last year's cross-country walk!
In other news, Imagine News - the New England Production Magazine for film and TV enthusiasts - is running a story this month about the "Million Calorie March" movie which is currently in post-production. Thanks to writer Carl Hanson for the story - which you can pick up locally or read on line at www.imaginenews.com by month's end.
The video from my presentation at Harvard-Pilgrim's Livin Fit Event has been added to the website at www.livinfit.com In the end the broadcast was viewed by over 25 schools simultaneously. Thanks to the enthusiastic live studio audience from my host location - Revere High School. Hopefully I left an impact on some of the kids - and opened their eyes to the changes that can happen after graduation in terms of staying healthy here in the "Land of Plenty".
In book news, radio personality Hank Morse of WROR 105.7 and WTKK 96.9 FM will be joining me for a special "Big & Tall Chronicles" book signing and lecture at Book Sellers Café in Medford Square on Saturday April 16th. Hank and I are old friends and are no strangers to the battle of the budge -although these days we're winning at the losing game! Call 781-391-7171 for details. We may even play the trailer from the upcoming MCM documentary. As I have all year - 100% of all book sales will benefit Generation Excel's Pediatric Obesity Foundation. There'll be more events announced in the very near future…see you there!
Speaking of events, thanks to everybody who came out for the annual Taste of Nashoba on March 22, where I was asked to be a "Celebrity Food Judge." Apparently, nobody in Nashoba Valley has read my book... Misadventures of a Lifelong FOOD ADDICT! Pretty ironic, huh? There I was, an activist for healthy change, sampling everything from cheesecake to clam chowder! Well, I guess the fine folks involved in the event figured that if I'd gotten up to 400 pounds (well, 397) that I must know something about good food!
Truly, I was honored to be invited to be involved in a terrific event that benefits the Nashoba community.
Finally, for all you "Million Calorie March Heads" out there - we've added a new radio interview to the "Gary's Inspiration" section. This 30 minute interview was taped earlier this year during the "Big & Tall Chronicles" book tour in sunny Southwest Florida. The radio host was Juliana Berry, who is not only a great broadcast personality - but a great voice over talent as well. Portions of the interview appear on her website as well at www.redshifttalents.com
Till next time America…
March 7, 2005: What's happening this month
Greetings all !
Well, it's hard to believe that the whirlwind that was 2004 could be upstaged by 2005 - but if some of the projects we've been approached to do actually happen, last year could begin to feel like just the warm-up. Hopefully Generation Excel will have some major announcements soon, but in the meantime here's what I can report without question IS happening…
Fields Of Vision, the producers of last year's "Touching The Game" baseball documentary, have been selected to handle post-production and editing on the "Million Calorie March" documentary (we've actually nicknamed the film "Downsize Me"). Film consultant and associate producer David Kleiler and myself are excited to have the team in place and have our eyes on having the film completed by this summer, so we can begin submitting it to film festivals across the country - most will happen in 2006.
It looks like I'll also be joining the G.E. Health Tour to do some talks and lead some walks beginning next weekend, March 19 & 20, in Seattle, Washington. This moving tour consists of trucks that break down to form lecture stages, workout platforms, product sampling areas, cooking demonstrations and testing sites. Sponsors include Dannon Lite and Slim-Fast - who have come out with some super products recently. The target market this show reaches out to is women. So why is a GUY excited to be joining the tour? Well thanks to some great women in my life I've always had a great rapport with the opposite sex - and thanks to last year's "Million Calorie March" I've also been able to relate to their struggles with obesity and talk with them in a personal way about a very sensitive subject - their weight. This disease knows no boundaries - and my efforts of late have reached out to children, business professionals, and people caught in the struggle. You can see video and stills of the tour on the website www.everywomanontour.com.
Speaking of which, I'm also speaking on the evening of April 19th at the Center For Weight Control at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton. The talk is for people who are considering the surgery, who have had the surgery or who are caught in the struggle. More details to follow.
This month I'll be hosting Nashoba Valley Medical Center's Annual "Taste Of Nashoba" event on the 22nd. NVMC was one of my great sponsors during last year's cross country walk and bused in over 300 people to walk with me last July when I arrived back here. Visit Taste of Nashoba for details.
Finally, for anyone interested in attending the "Laughter On The Rocks" show at Plymouth's Memorial Hall on April 9th, tickets are on sale at Plymouth Memorial Hall. As I mentioned before, $2 from every ticket will benefit the Generation Excel Foundation, and the show features famed humorist Loretta LaRoche, Boston comedians Tony V. from "Seinfeld" and "Conan O'Brien", Jimmy Dunn from NESN and FOX Sports and Kelly MacFarland from NBC's weight loss reality show "The Biggest Loser". Kelly lost over 70 lbs the hard way on the show - and having had lunch with her recently in Boston (yes, we both had the green salad with dressing on the side), she's an amazing girl and great comedienne.
Hopefully I'll see you at some of our upcoming events very soon -
Bye for now!
February 7, 2005
Sorry for the lack of updates, folks - time is not always my friend. Especially this year thus far…Generation Excel projects…The book...The documentary… battling the last 45 pounds…Work… Life... You know the routine!
On the Generation Excel front I'll be participating in a speaking seminar sponsored by Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare and The Rendon PR Group on Thursday March 3rd. The broadcast will be in front of a live audience and video conferenced and web cast to over 25 schools in New England. I'll be talking about the cross country walk, as well as giving the kids the "grown-up statistic" point of view on obesity. Other speakers on the program include a fitness trainer and a nutritionist. It will broadcast live on the internet at www.livinfit.com at 11:00 AM on March 3.
There is also a comedy benefit in Plymouth on April 9th called "Laughter On the Rocks". It features the acclaimed humorist Loretta Loroche, Kelly MacFarland from NBC's "The Biggest Loser", NESN's Jimmy Dunn and the comic with the greatest weight loss material of all time - Tony V. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Generation Excel and some of the healthy programs for kids we've been developing. We'll be adding details about the show very soon.
Speaking of kids we work with to get healthy, GXL will be sponsoring 10-year-old Nicky Sestito this spring by sending him to a physical fitness class twice a week after school. Nick is already working hard to stay active and lose weight - and your donations helped send him to this program. If you caught the October issue of "Inspire Your World Magazine", Nicky was the young kid in the photos with me. Good luck Nick!
In other news, we're just about ready to blast off on "Million Calorie March: The Documentary". David Kleiler and I have narrowed our search down to two very talented film editors and we hope to have the full team in place by the middle of February. I'm also thrilled that my old friend and former PR girl Terry Benham Humphrey will be joining the post-production team as well. Once completed, the film will be submitted to 37 film festivals around the country during the second half of 2005 and first half of 2006. We'll also be doing some special benefit screenings around the state as well. If you caught any of the speaking dates I did in the past few months you saw a 15 highlight of the documentary before I was introduced. Reaction so far has been very encouraging!
Finally I'll be on WBZ's "The Jordan Rich Show" here in Boston on March 20 at 10pm. We'll be giving away paraphernalia from last years cross country walk - and boy is there a lot left! Weight Loss Trivia anyone?
See you soon!
January 4, 2005: Happy and HEALTHY New Year!
2005? What the heck happened to 2004? Or 1988 for that reason. Now I personally haven't slept since the late 90's, but boy, does time fly when you're me. As if last year wasn't a blur, 2005's looking like it's going to be a busy one as well.
Generation Excel is moving ahead with plans for a local Boston weight loss walk this summer as well as a festive Boston Marathon Party in April. With any luck we'll be sending more kids to weight loss camps this summer and well as adding sponsors for the "Waisted Youth" educational DVD we hope to produce.
In other news, editing and post-production for " Million Calorie March: A Documentary Film" is about to get underway! The production team is almost in place, and it includes among others collaborator and film consultant David Kleiler of Local Sightings fame (see www.localsightings.com). David brings lots of experience on independent features. As Associate Producer he'll guide the content and flow of the picture - which actually begins back in my 397-pound days and ends later this year when I (hopefully) crack the 200-pound mark.
Todd G. Patkin, the angel underwriter of last year's cross country walk is back this year as one of the film's executive producers. His support of everything I do is nothing short of amazing. The 85 minute documentary will combine footage from the Florida to Boston walk with excerpts from my "MisAdventures" book. Like last year's "Supersize Me," it will combine humor and personal journey with education. The key ingredient I hope it will provide is INSPIRATION for the 65% of Americans caught in the weight loss struggle. We're excited and hoping to have it ready for the film festival circuit around the country by summer.
In book news, "Big & Tall Chronicles" is just about ready for its national in-store release. The cover artwork has been re-shot. The content has been edited. Appropriate changes have been made and Barnes and Noble bookstore locations have been selected from Florida to Massachusetts to Los Angeles. It's a real second wind for a unique self help book like this and I'm grateful to the publishers and B&N for believing in it.
Finally, Nashoba Valley Medical Center, one of our major sponsors for last years Million Calorie March has just come out with a "Healthy Lifestyles" calendar featuring yours truly. The story of "The March" is on the first two pages along with photos with some of the 300 + people who came out to walk with me last July as we made our way toward the finish line in Boston. Very cool. They also asked me to critique the healthy recipes from their local celebrity chefs - so there's colorful commentary in the vein of "Big & Tall Chronicles" in every page. Visit www.nashobamed.com for details.
Keep it healthy in 2005!
All the best-
December 6, 2004: Media Updates
Amazing year - this 2004. Now it hasn't been without it's struggles (what can I say folks - life just isn't meant to be an east ride!) but I'll always look back in awe at the folks I met and the people who continue to come forward to offer various kinds of help to Generation Excel. People like Eugene DelFavaro, who offered accounting services to our foundation. Or Todd Patkin, who offered office space in Reading. Or Linda Mirabella, who has made it her mission to see "Big & Tall Chronicles" on Oprah! Countless people offering whatever they can do. We're in the process of rounding out our board and with each speaking date or radio appearance I do, support continues to grow.
Speaking of radio, in addition to NYC, I did talk radio recently with Brian Miller on Connecticut's WICC, Paul Sullivan on Boston's WBZ and Hank Morse over on WTKK 96.9FM. It was great to talking callers and hearing from people who followed this year's Million Calorie March. It was also interesting how many GUYS called in to talk about their struggles with weight. As I said in the book 65% of the country is overweight - surely men - who have little support - make up a good deal of that.
I spent the Thanksgiving Holiday back in Florida - where I promoted "Big and Tall Chronicles" and our foundation on seven radio stations, various newspapers and with a speaking presentation at the Miromar Spa.
Special thanks to the following radio stations in southwest Florida for having me on:
WFGU 90.3 FM (NPR)
WHSR - AM 980
Oldies 95FM (McGee in The Morning)
B103.9 FM (The Rob & Jules Morning Show)
WRXK - FM 96.1 FM
WWCN - AM 770
WJBX-FM 99.3 FM
Also thanks to Tiffany from the Marco Island Eagle and the staff at Miromar Resort & Spa.
Finally thanks to all who attended my keynote speech at this weekends Kids First Health Fair in Providence - I had a blast!
November 3, 2004: Big & Tall Chronicles in wide release!
I'm in NYC and Connecticut this week doing some talk radio - let's hope the election actually ends election night!.
Last month I received a shock when The Boston Red Sox won the World Series. Now an even bigger one: "Big & Tall Chronicles" - my part memoir/ part self help book which began as a pure slice of therapy back in 2001- has been picked up nationwide by Barnes & Noble Bookstores and will be available in January.
Now I really have seen it all! The new retail price is $15.95 and it should be on the shelves by early January. On a serious note - I think the book can help people in the sense that it's not written by a celebrity, sports star or weight loss guru. It's your neighbor next door with a dream team of experts in tow. And just when it's starts to get preachy, we serve up the laughs just to keep people interested. Thanks to the folks at iUniverse Publishing for sponsoring The Million Calorie March and publishing the book.
We're adding a new feature to the website beginning next week called "Gary Weighs In". Not on the scale, mind you (although once you've weighed in on national television, your self conscious issues really disappear!), but on the obesity issue and weight loss industry in general. I'll keep the journal going for those interested in what's going on with Generation Excel. Beyond the book promotion, I'm hitting the road this month talking to a variety of folks.
UPCOMING SPEAKING DATES:
November 16th (Tuesday) - Chamber Of Commerce Breakfast, Shirley, MA
Subject: "Healthy Bodies = Healthy Business!"
November 30 (Tuesday) - Miromar Spa & Resort Lecture Series, Miromar Lakes, Florida
Subject: "Laughing At The Losing Game & The Million Calorie March"
December 4th (Saturday) - Kids First Symposium, Providence, Rhode Island
Subject: "Waisted Youth - Pediatric Obesity & Strategies For keeping Your Child Healthy"
Finally, we're teaming up with some of the members of my "Dream Team" and comedian Tony V. to produce in-house weight loss challenges for corporations and organizations in 2005. If you and your co-workers are looking for a fun way to lose weight and get healthy, let Generation Excel help inspire and educate your world!
Contact us at (781) 944-2005.
October 6, 2004: Project Updates
I had a great time speaking to the TOPS program ( Take Off Pounds Sensibly) in Salem, Massachusetts last week. The group was a lot of fun and any time I can hang out near my old alma mater (Salem State) it's always a warm bath of nostalgia!
We recently received the following e-mail from Shawna, the young girl your donations helped send to weight loss camp last August…
"Camp California Fitness was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned so much about my self and my body. While I was there I experienced things that I probably would have never go the chance to do. While I was there I lost a total of 30lbs and 3% body fat. I learned how to eat healthy and exercise right, and that is how I lost the weight. It was harder than I thought it would be to keep up the program, but I think I am doing pretty well with it. I am still losing weight and keeping up the exercise and discipline that they taught us at camp. THANK YOU so much for helping me get the experience the best experience in my life."
Promoting "Big & Tall Chronicles" is almost as fun as promoting the Million Calorie March was a few months back. With chapters like "Paradise by The Buffet Lights" "When Bloated Things Happen To Good People" and "10,000 Cheeseburgers In Paradise" - I get to mix humor with message in a positive way. The book has just been added locally to a bunch of stores and chains, including Booksmith, Bookends, Booksellers locations. I'm also headed back to NYC and Connecticut later this month. I've been donating 100% of the sales from books I sell at speeches or events to the foundation. Most retail outlets as well.
Gen Excel is in talks with quite a few health care companies and health centers to create weight loss challenges, walks and educational programs for 2005. I'll keep you informed
as things come together!
Finally we opened an office for The Generation Excel Foundation, at the intersection of Routes 128 and 28 in Reading, Mass. Thanks to Auto Part International for their help!
See you down the road-
September 12, 2004 - Back to Florida - by Air this time!
So here Julie & I are - on a plane heading back to Florida to get some quick R&R and to promote "Big & Tall Chronicles". I passed on a window seat because -frankly - having walked it I'm not ready to re-examine it by air!
Anyhow the news is all about the continuing onslaught of hurricanes - which right now appear to be headed for the west coast Naples/Marco Island area we're headed for. Am I worried? Not really. Not with the type of year I've had. Worst-case scenario? I'll lose even more weight running from the hurricane or drop a few pounds because food needs to be rationed. You see - that's life on this side of The Million Calorie March. Make the best out of every situation and always move forward on the road of life.
Many have asked how my weight's doing since the walk wrapped a while (6 weeks) ago. We'll let's just say I've carved out one hell of a maintainence plan for myself lately. You all know the deal. Gain 3 pounds one week - lose it another. Lose 2 1/2 pounds this week - put it back on with the help of special events, family get-togethers, client dinners and my own (much documented yet downgraded) infatuation with food! And you know what? It's all right. It's the reality of the weight-loss struggle if you're trying to do it the old fashioned - yet healthy way. I accepted this not so long ago when I realized it would be a 3-4 year process to re-invent my approach to eating. The fact of the matter is with only 45 pounds to go to my goal weight I'll get there sometime in the next 6-12 months - and enjoy a little in the meantime.
Even with all that I've learned and been thru I'm still a self-improvement fanatic. Despite 3 years of living at the gym, spending quality time with my nutritionist and therapist -you'll still find me right there in the "Self Help" section of your local book store. The funny part is occasionally I'll come across my own book! Which brings up and awkward question: Can a person still spend hours in the Self-Help section seeking wisdom if their own book is among the offerings? I suppose so - or maybe there should be a special section for self-help authors who still are in need of …self-help? Hello Barnes & Noble…
September 2, 2004: Million Calorie March: The Movie!
After walking miles and miles earlier this year I now have the fun of going through miles and miles of video footage from The Million Calorie March. Two television networks
have expressed an interest in seeing a 15-minute screener of the entire 1200-mile odyssey. Next year's Supersize Me? Who knows - but this much I promise: plenty of laughs, beautiful scenery, weight loss and interesting people. Oh, yeah, and maybe even Kelly Ripa!
We've been trying to come up with a tag line to go on the movie poster. Something like:
Million Calorie March:
Turn the eastern seaboard into your own personal treadmill!
Million Calorie March:
Because sometimes the Mystic Lakes just don't cut it!
Million Calorie March:
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the buffet line!
Clearly, you can see we're stuck for a good one, so feel free to email us with a better one and we'll send you a MCM baseball cap!
Big & Tall Chronicles continues to sell like "the little book that could." For those of you who find it to be a "take two Valium and phone your therapist in the morning" type of read, consider this: All you have to do is READ it - I had to LIVE it! The good news is, I walked into a bookstore this week and there it was on display - right between John Kerry's book and George W. Bush's latest. Hysterical. Apparently, Ralph Nader doesn't have a book out?
I thank everyone for buying it. We've got more signings coming up this fall so I'll keep you informed. Also thanks to the enthusiastic crowd at Autopart International's sales meeting last week. My presentation was called, "Don't be Fat, Dumb and Happy About Business." What else did you expect?
On September 10th I'm returning to Florida (on a plane, like normal people this time!) to promote Big & Tall Chronicles. on the radio and in print. It will be good to be back in Florida - a state that was very good to me earlier this year!
August 25, 2004 - The "Waisted Youth" DVD Project
Well actually I think we can do better than "All" for the people who continue to e-mail me asking for more updates & photos on our website. Maybe we should come up with a name like the "Dead Heads" (the folks who follow the now defunct Grateful Dead Band). What about the "Generation Excellers". Naaa. I can do better than that - I wrote an entire book for crying out loud. "Shining happy Million Calorie People"? Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?
I'll tell you what - e-mail me your suggestions for what we should call the folks who continue to call, write, check in and e-mail this website - weeks after the Million Calorie March officially wrapped up. Indeed, not a day goes by where I'm not stopped by someone - the bank teller - the UPS guy - the three piece suited executive in the elevator - fellow walkers at Horn Pond in Woburn. People I've never even met. Needless to say I'm extremely touched by the support you've given me - and the inspiration you seem to have received from the cross-country walk. That's my barometer right there folks.
We've added two new videos to the site. The last two "Live with Regis & Kelly" appearances from June. (see bottom or homepage) Also the scheduled, then cancelled, then re-scheduled FOX News interview with Neil Cavuto has been added under "Gary's Videos".
Okay, here's the update on the Generation Excel Foundation. We've officially made the decision to go ahead with plans to produce "Waisted Youth: Strategies For Keeping Your Child Healthy" in 2005. This educational DVD will teach parents how to properly deal with their child's weight problem. Based the parents I met on the walk, I feel it's needed and one of the best contributions our foundation can make to the pediatric obesity epidemic. It will include advice from experts across the board - and will be available following a national P.R. campaign - similar to the one we did for The Million Calorie March. That's the good news. The bad news? It's time to use the "S" word again. Sponsors. I haven't had to find sponsors for quite a while - but I'm sure with a great product like this to get behind - there are healthcare companies, associations and passionate individuals out there that will want to help. If anyone has any contacts or suggestions feel free to e-mail this site. In the meantime we're moving forward developing the concept, treatment, PR effort and budget (50% of the budget goes toward the marketing campaign so people out there in the USA know it exists…)
Keep those e-mails coming!
All the best-
August 14, 2004 - Life After the Million Calorie March
Well, it's hard to believe but I've been home nearly a month and in many ways I feel like the walk never stopped. A lot is going on here at Generation Excel. First we helped to send a young girl from Kansas named Shawna to a weight loss camp in the Turlock, CA called Camp California Fitness. Thanks to your donations we were able to make it happen. On Wednesday Los Angeles film maker Dan McCarthy (Irish Eyes, Vendetta) interviewed me for his upcoming documentary about obesity in America. The film hits the festival circuit in 2005 and includes a who's who of names involved in the issue.
I promoted "Big & Tall Chronicles" on some of the radio stations in the Cape Cod area last week when I was down for a quick vacation, and this week I'll be on the syndicated "Frank Foley Show" Thursday morning at 9am. It airs in the Massachusetts area on stations such as WORC 1310 am, WEIM 1280 am and WGFP 940 am. I've also been asked to be the keynote speaker at AutoPart International's sales meeting August 28th in Mansfield. We'll be showing film clips from the walk as well as sharing stories about the "business" part of
"The Million Calorie March" - which believe me was every bit as daunting as the physical part!
On a personal note, Julie and I purged thru dozens of clothes bins this week, some which go back to when we were dating in 1991. The good news? Almost everything from those days fit! The bad news? Julie refused to let me wear anything out of the house. Acid wash jeans? "No way" said Julie. Shirts with crazy designs dating back to the Kurt Cobain era? "Absolutely not". Multi colored pastel parachute pants? "Give them to Tony V." (one of our comedians from our business). As for the rest - eBay, anybody?
See you soon!
July 25, 2004 - It's Good to be Home!
It's good to be home! In the aftermath of "The March" I'm getting lots of REST in addition to doing lots of morning radio (WBOQ, WODS, 1510AM The Zone, WROR among others) and print interviews discussing the walk as well as outlining some of our plans for Generation Excel. Look for a story in the upcoming issue of "Inspire Your World Magazine", as well as an interview on WBZ-4 news July 31st at 8am, and FOX 25 Morning Show on August 2nd. I'm also guest hosting a fun outdoor event in Salem for WBOQ Radio this Thursday.
In addition to settling back into a normal life, there are tons of e-mails to follow-up on from everyone we met up and down the east coast in the past 3 1/2 months. Needless to say things are very busy. There are many loose ends to tie up, and opportunities to follow-up on. In August, I'll be taking Julie to the Cape (when summer actually gets here!) before heading out on the road this Fall (by plane and car this time!) to promote "Big And Tall Chronicles".
Keep checking in for news and thanks to all for the continued support!
All the best-