Calgarian overcomes obesity, illness and family tragedy to redeem his life

A few years ago, Jonathan Karpetz, 29, weighed in at more than 300 pounds.

He lost the ability to do the things he loved. It was obvious his obesity was foreclosing on his life.

Fast-forward to 2011, and Karpetz is a lean 180 lbs.

And he made it as one of the top three contestants in the Canada-wide Subway Commit-to-Fit Ambassador contest that ended Oct. 25. The contest involved people sharing their stories of healthy living.

Karpetz’s story was one of the best.

He beat more than 1,300 competitors in the Subway Commit-to-Fit Ambassador contest and gained himself a spotlight from the food-chain giant. He hopes to inspire and encourage others on their journey of healthy living.Johnathan Karpetz boasts his marathon medals much earned.

Photo courtesy of: www.freshenergy.com

“Coming from 300 lbs and now being able to run 21 kilometres, you have no idea how good that change feels,” he said.

Though Karpetz did not win the contest, he basks in the opportunity that has allowed him to share his story and successes to help others.

After being read the riot act from his family and doctor in 2002 when he was more than 300 lbs, he decided to deal with his weight.

“It had quite a big impact on me and I decided that I was not at all happy with my weight,” Karpetz said. “I felt very unhealthy, almost sick.”

“It definitely had an impact,” he said. “I slowly began eating less and less — which turned into a crash diet — and four months later I weighed 180 lbs. “

“But I was still the same person doing the same things as I did before. My body just went into complete starvation mode.”

Dr. Patti Yik, a naturopathic doctor from Vive Integrative Health Group in Calgary, explained in an email the problems caused from crash dieting.

“It’s dangerous and the weight loss will be unmaintainable because the body slows down its metabolism in an adaptation to its low energy environment,” she said.

Once Karpetz began eating normal again, the weight steadily returned.

“I felt very defeated.”

Jonathan Karpetz, finalist in Subway’s Commit-to-Fit Ambassador contest.

Photo by: Aaron JohnsonSeeing himself return to his unhappy, unhealthy lifestyle, he tried again.

“I gave it another go, but this time, I educated myself to have a better interaction with food,” he said.

In the fall of 2008, Karpetz began to reduce his calories alongside exercising a couple days a week. But a new obstacle emerged — his father died unexpectedly.

“It derailed me. The progress I made went right out the door,” Karpetz said.

Facing such a crisis, Karpetz visited a nutritionist to gain back control.

“She said, ‘Look Jon, you can decline with your father, or you can show him you’re in the best part of your life.’”

The inspiration Karpetz took from his family situation and joining a summer league hockey team with old friends are two highlights he distinctly remembers about making the switch to a healthier lifestyle.

Having lost the ability to play the sport he was passionate for because of his weight problems, Karpetz was thrilled to be back with his buddies.

“That was a huge moment for me. The camaraderie and loyalty I feel to that team is phenomenal.

“They gave me a chance cause they knew my goal (was) to be losing weight and they wanted a friend back on the team.”

Karpetz’s progress through his hockey team led to further physical success. It soon led to him joining a half-marathon race with his uncle.

“I thought that was extreme, but I trusted him,” Karpetz said.

Four months later, Karpetz ran his first half marathon. To date, he has now run five.

“Coming from the brink of diabetes to being able to run 21 kilometres, it’s just an incredible feeling,” Karpetz said.

ajohnson@cjournal.ca