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Passport For Change

What I've Learned About Resolutions

When I was younger I never put much stock in New Year’s resolutions. I thought that if I wanted to make a change, improve myself, I could do it any time. I didn’t need an artificial trigger to motivate me - in the same way most people don’t need Mother’s Day or Father’s Day to appreciate their parents. But that was long before I was 38 years old and allowed myself to balloon up to 242 lbs. 

I’m not going to rehash my personal journey towards weight loss and health in this article. I’ve written about it many times over the years, and most recently in the December Publisher’s Note. But I will say that I did lose 52 lbs. I have more or less kept it off for over eight years and I am now far healthier and fit than I ever was. I did so as a New Year’s resolution.

I’ve learned enough about myself that I don’t need a ‘resolution’ in order to achieve a goal. But I also know how hard it is to lose weight, get fit, break a habit or otherwise improve. You first have to identify the problem and have the genuine desire to fix it. Good intentions are great. As a regular spinner and runner (I work out five times a week) I see all kinds of people with good intentions. Any gym regular knows that their favourite classes and machines will be harder to access during January. But good intentions are rarely enough to reach your goal. So by February most of those hopeful newbies stop coming to class. It happens every year. A select few stick it out, but most of those new faces don’t return.

My experience tells me that in order to reach your goal you’ll need more than desire. You need the following:

1. Information and Expertise
2. Support and Accountability
3. Patience and Willpower


Information: Most people who want to lose weight or get fit, tend to throw themselves into the task. They revert back to programs and routines that may or may not have worked before. Or they may simply sign up for a new activity or diet on a recommendation from a friend or family member. But how many think to speak to their doctor before modifying their diet or starting a new activity? Not many, I bet. How many would take the time to consult with a qualified expert in advance (such as a dietician, nutritionist, personal trainer, psychologist etc.)? Fewer still, I reckon.

I could not have lost 52 lbs. without learning what changes I needed to make to my food intake. Dieting doesn’t work for me. I had to change the way I thought of food, what I ate and when I ate it. I had to learn what would work for me; what I was prepared to forgo. And although I was working out five or six times a week, I could not lose those last ten lbs. without a personal trainer. He showed me the right way to exercise, gave me a plan which altered the type of activity I was doing in order to be more effective.

Support  I’m blessed to be supported by family and friends. I didn’t decide to change overnight and I didn’t achieve my goal overnight. The final straw came when I saw photos of me and my family taken at a wedding - and I knew I had to act. But leading up to that point were candid conversations with my wife and father and my best friend who did their best to get me to see that I needed fixing. Nobody appreciates the ‘food police’ at the time when they want to eat a piece of cake. But in retrospect, my whole family supported me by calling me out when I’d try to sneak snacks or ask me out for walks, or understand why I didn’t want to have junk food in the house etc.

My wife and kids were particularly patient with me. They gave me time to exercise. They understood when I was cranky when I felt hungry. But perhaps most importantly, they kept me honest. I was accountable to more than just me. I didn’t just promise myself that I’d get healthy, I told my family. It’s much harder to fail in public than it is to fail alone (I mean that positively).

Patience  I can’t stand in a line without feeling anxious. Waiting for anything makes me crazy. When I decide I want something I want it immediately. Except real weight loss and fitness doesn’t happen overnight. It took me a decade to become fat and lazy. It took me a year to change my patterns, reverse the damage and achieve my goal.

My advice to anyone who wants to make a resolution would be to pick a problem, and set a reasonable attainable goal (you can always change your target to go further when the first benchmark is reached). Educate yourself on the options available to you. Seek the advice of trained and qualified professionals. Ask for and graciously receive the help from friends and loved ones. Work hard and be patient. And know you will succeed.

And I would very much like to help you along the way. That is why Tonic will be presenting Passport For Change on January 12, 2014 at Artscape at Wychwood Barns. Passport is a “one stop shop” consumer experience, presented by Tonic Magazine, where we will provide people looking for change with the tools they will need to fulfill their resolution goals for the coming year.

Here is how it works:

1. First purchase your “Passport” online. You get a block of minutes you can use to set up “Speed Meetings” with the Experts of your choice. You can purchase as many blocks of minutes as you want!

2. Next look at the categorized directory of Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness and Emotional Health Experts and schedule all of your Speed Meetings online in advance of the event.

3. Next you can set up your own Guest Profile page and declare your resolution goals. You can chart your progress for months after the event, and friends and family can log on and comment.

4. Come to the event and meet with the Experts you’ve selected in six minute one-on-one Speed Meetings.

5. At the event attend twenty minute open talks on general fitness, nutrition, health and wellness.


As I set out in my Publisher’s Note this month, my goal for 2014 is anger management. I need to learn how to calm down. To that end I’ll be creating a profile page on the Passport website. You can track my progress over 2014, comment and offer your support as I try to achieve my goal. I encourage you to do the same. If you keep your profile public (which is an option) I’ll be sure to offer you support too.

I couldn’t have put on Passport without the support of our fantastic sponsors. Neal Brothers is a local company making some of the best snack foods around. They support and distribute other local and healthy brands. Peter Neal and in-house nutritionist Emily Sawyer will be speaking on healthy snacking in moderation on the mainstage. You’ll be able to sample and purchase their products at the event. Organika is an award-winning natural products company. They are sponsoring our main-stage and bringing nutrition expert Lisa Petty in to speak. CanFitPro Vice President Rod MacDonald has written for Tonic for years. They will be bringing their expertise in supplying many of the speakers for the event. Rise Kombucha, out of Montreal, has supported Tonic events in the past and is our official beverage sponsor. Rise has an ongoing commitment to encourage and show people how to live a healthier life. As they say “It is all about making deliberate choices and we are supporting them in taking an informed and well thought out decision.” Lady York is a Toronto gem - a supermarket that has served the Italian community for decades. But it also supports and sells local foods, healthy and organic foods and has a wide array of gluten-free products. I’m happy and proud that they are our give-away bag sponsor.

In addition to Rod speaking at Passport, I’m so pleased that Tonic’s own Bryce Wylde and Joy McCarthy and Globe and Mail Fitness Expert Kathleen Trotter will be joining me on stage to give keynote talks. And there’ll be many more of your favourite Tonic contributors speaking and meeting with guests.

I know that Passport For Change will be a fun and informative event, but I also believe that those who create a profile and and attend will receive the information, expertise and support they will need to reach their fitness and wellness goals for the coming year.

Jamie Bussin is the Publisher of Tonic Magazine. He lost 52 lbs. on a New Year’s Resolution eight years ago and will not shut up about it. For more information - passportforchange.com