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Shaping up: A personal journey to fitness

A change for my health has become my permanent new lifestyle

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Story by Jim Murray

This magazine is mainly focused on success stories of the professional kind. But I’d like to share a personal triumph: like many people, I always wanted to be more active and fit but just couldn’t seem to get myself motivated to make the change. But in the winter of 2010, I decided to make a move and the results are greater than I ever expected.


Throughout my 30s and 40s I was lucky enough to rely on my naturally, relatively slim build and speedy metabolism. Although I kept reasonably active with skiing, biking and the occasional gym visit, I never really considered myself the athletic type. Last fall I was overdue for my annual physical exam. I was 46 years old, thought I was in fair shape but had noticed my weight climbing over the last few years I knew I needed to be more active and what I really wanted was more energy.

Every year that went by after I turned 40, I would vow that “this will be the year I get in shape.” (Somehow I don’t think I’m alone with this one.) My annual physical was followed by a second consultation with my physician, during which he produced my test results. I remember it quite clearly. Although he said nothing was bad, he didn’t mention anything was really good! This struck me as odd what did this mean? Was this the start of the dark descent into middle age?

Although I felt ok and thought I looked ok, reality was staring me in the face: I was about to turn 47 in early 2011, which meant 50 was closing in fast. Just ok wasn’t good enough. Would I be happy if business was just ok? My family just ok? In four years, my weight had gone from 185 lbs to a whopping 215 pounds. In my mind I was still that fairly slim person and at 6’1”, I believed I still carried the weight well. I even dismissed the photos that showed me on the heavy side thinking hey, it’s not me, it’s the camera adding 10 lbs. It was time to make a change.


I’ve always taken a very business-like approach to most aspects of my life. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve both my professional and my personal lives. As managing director of Canada’s largest luxury car dealer, I’ve surrounded myself with the best people who know how to offer the best service possible our amazing team here at Brian Jessel has some of the premier people in the industry, and we refuse to accept anything less.

As I contemplated my doctor’s lackluster review of my health status, I looked at my personal life: I have a team of professionals who help me with tax planning, accounting and legal advice. I have doctors, a dentist, landscapers and a house cleaner. I trust all of these experts and use their services to get the excellent results I desire. When I finally decided to get in the best shape of my life before I turned 50, I knew I needed professional help to achieve my fitness goals.

And just like at work, where we rely on about 30 percent of business from referrals, my doctor referred me to his personal trainer, Teresa Tibbutt, a kinesiologist at Coast Kinetics. Hiring Teresa was key to making the commitment to start my fitness journey. In my case, because I was really out of shape, it was crucial to find someone who had the experience with my age bracket and relatively low fitness level, someone who would push me beyond my comfort zone.

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Eat Right

Proper nutrition will keep you going through your workouts. Here are some simple ways to start. By Teresa Tibbut
Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day
Aim to eat smaller portions every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day this will keep you satisfied and help with overall digestion.
Drink 2L of water daily

Healthy kidney and bowel function is important in achieving weight loss. Water helps eliminate waste and flush the system.

Choose lean sources of protein
Protein aids in muscle repair and should be incorporated pre and post workout. It also

Choose whole grains over refined

Whole grains are high in dietary fiber and full of important vitamins and minerals. If you have the choice, always go for the whole grain option. Reduce sugar intakeSugar is high in calories and devoid of nutritional benefits. Try to quiet cravings with naturally occurring sugar in fruit.

Limit sodium intake

Consuming too much salt forces the body to retain water, which can be mistaken for temporary weight gain. Excessive amounts of salt in the diet have also been shown to cause high blood pressure.

Start reading product labels
Educate yourself on the calories, sodium, fat, etc. that you’re taking in. Being aware of what you consume is a huge step to a healthier lifestyle.

Kinesiologists specialize in sport conditioning and rehabilitation, which was a great fit for me. Its proximity to work was also key to ensuring I stayed committed to my routine. Finally, the fact that I connected well with Teresa was crucial to keeping me going, especially through the not-so-enjoyable parts, which I learned, particularly at the beginning, would be more frequent than I expected.


Being as out of shape as I was, it was important to ease into a routine. I had the “businessman body” – I skipped breakfast, sat (and ate) through too many lunch meetings and made no time for the gym. The hardest part of the first 10 of my sessions with Teresa was the mental aspect. I was going once a week and doing some very basic routines – but they were killing me. I’m not sure I could even pull off 10 pushups at that point (I’m sure Teresa has it written down somewhere). For that first month of weekly sessions, I would ache for three days after every workout. And soon enough, the workouts increased in frequency and in difficulty.


As I slowly got back into shape, I soon realized that eating was also a big part of the equation. Sure, I was getting a bit stronger, but failing to change my diet was not only keeping my weight static, it was affecting my workouts. Every personal trainer is different, but Teresa pushes me hardest when I’m fading out during a session. Nothing is more torturous than knowing you’re only halfway into an hour long workout and your body is out of fuel. As my sessions increased to twice weekly, I realized I had to change my mindset about food if I was going to make it through.

Teresa helped me to clean up my eating habits and develop some structure for pre- and post workout meals. This is not to be confused with a diet I wasn’t about to start restricting what I ate, since I needed fuel for my workouts. First, I needed to address the fact that I was burning out before my sessions were over. As far as energy sources go – not to mention muscle recovery protein is key. I’m always looking for good sources of protein, especially on workout days. My favorite is the quinoa salad at our M Café, and I also eat lots of free range chicken.

Next, I needed to make little tweaks to my diet outside of my workouts. An average hour-long session for me burns over 600 calories. Yes, weight loss is about intake and output, but it’s also about eating cleanly and nutritiously. My advice is to read labels and make smart choices. I’m a big chocolate lover and do eat it occasionally, but after a grueling workout I don’t want to finish the evening with a chocolate bar. For me, it’s easy: I know how much work it took to burn those 600 calories and how easy it is to ingest 300 more in one small treat.

Jim is performing a very advanced plyometric form of the pushup. Straddling the board to start, the pushup is performed in the down phase. The hands are quickly brought up on top of the board to complete the upward movement, and then return to the floor for the down motion to complete the pushup.


I knew my goal to be in the best shape of my life by age 50 was achievable. I had more than three years to get there. After two and a half months of training with Teresa twice a week, I suddenly started to crave more workout time, so I jumped at the chance when Coast Kinetics started its Saturday detox class. It involved a group of 10 to 20 of us, two trainers and several short-interval workout stations.

Detox must be short for sweat, because this hour-plus session was just the cardio I needed to keep my stamina up all week. It must be in my DNA to overachieve, or it could also be that my job striving for the best with Brian Jessel BMW had influenced other areas of my life. What started as a simple vow to get in shape became a wholesale lifestyle change.

I was up to three sessions a week and eating right and the results were starting to show. Four months into the program with Teresa, I had lost 25 lbs and my wardrobe was getting very loose this may be the downside to downsizing your body: none of your clothes fit anymore. Confident I was still going to drop more weight, I hung in there and had a few suits altered. New suits would come later.


I feel great today – and every day. Fitness is a big part of my life – I actually think I’ve become a cardio junkie. I just don’t feel right if I’m not pushing my body. I’ve started filling in the spaces between scheduled workouts with leisurely activities like jogging and hiking. It’s not hard to stay active in Vancouver, with access to so many great outdoor adventures.

This past July, I hiked (I should say ran) up The Chief Peak 2 in Squamish in less than an hour and took 40 minutes coming down. It was an amazing workout with a beautiful view. I also recently ran my first extreme terrain race in Whistler called the Warrior Dash – about 5 km at Whistler-Blackcomb’s tube park, staring with a 1,000-ft. vertical climb over rocky terrain, then onto 10 obstacles that saw me leaping over flames, climbing over 40-ft.

cargo nets, conquering wood barricades and finishing through a very muddy barbed wire pit all while running. If it sounds crazy, trust me, it was. I finished 25th in my age category of men aged 45 to 49 with a time of 37:31 min. Challenges like these give me no excuse but to push my body out of its comfort zone. I couldn’t help but feel so much pride after completing this race I had never done anything like it before, nor would I have thought it possible just six months earlier.

I’m not an expert, nor am I the fittest man out there, but I do hope my journey may inspire some of you to get out and get in shape. Currently I am down over 45 lbs. weighing in 170 lbs. and I truly feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. And at 47, I’ve met my goal early. Plus, I did get those new suits after all.

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Jim is performing a barbell overhead lunge a compound exercise targeting the leg muscles and shoulders as well as the core. Holding the barbell overhead while performing alternating lunges takes this exercise to an advanced level.

Jim is doing box jumps a plyometric or explosive exercise that involves loading the muscle then contracting it in rapid sequence. Plyometric movements are excellent for increasing the speed or force of muscular contractions and can be incorporated after a solid base of conditioning is achieved – like in Jim’s case. 

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