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Chris Wilkinson column: Man shares inspiration as he daily walks Duncan hill

If he doesn’t feel like getting up and out some mornings, he’ll focus on getting his walking shoes on

By Chris Wilkinson

This is a story about kindness. And family. Inspiration. And healthier, happier aging. It’s a story about John.

Do you ever drive the Government Street hill in the morning, perhaps on the way to work, and see a guy in a red or pink hoodie walking up and down the hill? I saw him one morning and then another morning. And another. So often in the mornings that I began to wonder about him. Then we started sharing a nod. Then next time a wave. Several mornings a wave. Then I just had to stop one morning and find out more about his story.

John grew up playing sports, primarily basketball and soccer. At some point he lost his way and stopped being active. Started a few unhealthy habits. He was living an unhealthy life and started to gain a lot of weight. John says at one point he was around 600 lbs. John’s family started becoming more concerned about his health. His family said he was getting too big. And he had a son to support as well. It was right around that time that John was online and found a group of overweight men who had made healthy lifestyle changes and were supporting others. John took that moment to make an important decision. Everything important starts with a decision in an instant. It was time for a change.

John started walking. Every morning. Walking has turned out to be John’s favourite activity. And has it ever served him well! John reports he has lost over 200 lbs and continues to shed unwanted weight. He walks every morning without fail, and you’ll often see him walking the Government Street hill.

John doesn’t take any mornings off! He said that in the past he would occasionally take a morning or two off, and even get out of his habit for a while. Not anymore. John has learned the power of momentum with habits. He won’t take a morning off. If he doesn’t feel like getting up and out some mornings, he’ll focus on getting his walking shoes on and getting out the door. He knows that if he gets out that door and starts walking, there’s no way he’s turning back.

I asked John what keeps him going on the tougher days. He replied that his family, including his mother and his late grandfather, have been strong influences and motivators for him to continue. John shared a touching story about his grandfather, before he died, telling John to “keep going” and to “keep it up”.

About three months ago, John cut out gluten and noticed even faster changes.

There’s another heartwarming piece to John’s story too. I asked him how many people he waves to; he said many. A core thread to John’s walking story is his kind-hearted friendliness. John tends to wave to many who drive Government Hill in the morning. According to John, if someone is having a bad morning and maybe isn’t keen on going to work that day, he believes that a smile, a wave, or a nod can help brighten someone’s day! He notes that he’s seen a few frowns turned around from a wave or a smile and he plans to keep it up. He even confided that if he is having a bad morning, that waving or smiling at someone immediately makes him feel better!

A few people have shared with John that he makes their day brighter when they see him out walking. John finds inspiration in others’ kind comments and said that initially he had no idea that he was making such a positive impact on others.

While John starting his walking program to improve his own life, it’s clear that his dedication to his own health has made a big impact on others too. Whether it’s inspiring someone else to get out walking or shifting someone’s energy to a more positive state with a smile or a wave, it’s John’s type of kindness that brings us to a better place. It’s John’s type of humble inspiration that fills our cup. Fills our hearts.

John wants anyone who needs better health to know that his message is to simply get started. Don’t wait. There is never a perfect time. Just get out and do it. Just start. Momentum happens fast.

If you see John walking the hill in his red or pink hoodie, flash him a wave and a smile, or a honk, to say good morning! He’ll appreciate it and flash you one right back.

Thanks for the wave, John! See you out there again soon.