Inspired by the extraordinary – The Royal Gazette


Created: Jan 27, 2022 07:59

Tino Martinez transformed his body when he lost 150 pounds. This month he ran back-to-back races in Houston, Texas – a 5K and a half marathon (Photograph provided)

I like to be inspired by extraordinary people.

I am amazed when I witness the transformation of a body by a spirit concerned with positive change. It reminds me that our horizons are limitless.

In Bermuda, I was deeply touched by the story of a talented and stylish saxophonist, Tino Martinez, who in just two years lost half his body weight from 300 pounds to 150 pounds. At 33, her decision to lose all that excess weight wasn’t about vanity; it was a commitment to be healthy and energetic for many years to come.

He achieved his goal by focusing on a seemingly impossible dream: to compete as a marathon runner. He was in his final days of training for the Houston Marathon when I last saw him.

My husband, Bill, and I are now at the Tao Garden Wellness Center in northern Thailand, where we live for several months each year. In pre-pandemic times, hundreds of scholars and students from around the world came here to learn new, healthier lifestyles.

There are no staff, just a few gardeners, and the station is closed to the public. We can be here because we own our condominium; there are no guests. The vast grounds are deserted. The old and towering trees are filled with exotic birds emboldened by the lack of people. The air hums, hoots and chirps with more birdsong than even the deep jungle that separates us from Laos and Burma.

We are among a handful of people: Master Chia, the founder of Tao Garden and The Universal Healing System, his family, and last but not least, Joe Harmon.

Nina London with Joe Harmon, 79, who lost 40 pounds in six weeks (Photograph by Bill Rosser)

Joe is 79 years old and lives alone in his small studio. He bikes to the outdoor pool every day, swims, works on his tan, meditates for hours and fasts. When I saw him this afternoon, he was rolling a little fruit in his mouth and he was smiling. “That’s all I had to eat today.”

Then he jumped to his feet and headed for the sauna.

Why is Joe here? Joe decided to make a big change in his life. He says his body is like an old car; many parts have been replaced: both hips, knees… he has a metal plate with seven pins in his arm. His weight had increased to over 200 pounds. He says to himself: “It is time for a change. I want to dance, move, I want to have energy. I want to discover who I am on a deeper level!

He spent hours thinking and pondering the years ahead of him.

He listened to himself without being distracted by others.

Then he flew halfway around the world to Tao Garden and started working on himself full time.

He is a source of energy and conversation, regaling us with outlandish tales of his life exploring the wilderness of his native Alaska. He climbed glaciers, defended himself from walrus attacks with a harpoon, traced the Klondike Gold Rush, studied and lived with several Native American tribes, and became a skilled teacher and practitioner of the spiritual arts.

Her solitary life in the Tao Garden requires great discipline, autonomy and inner balance. It is not part of a program. Joe’s life is his program and he follows it with joy and exuberance.

“It’s not about losing weight, although that’s the result you can see. It’s about the freedom to be the person I want to be: Active! Create things! Helping people!

“The hardest thing about getting old is that you accumulate so many things, not just tangible things, but things that you know, and sort through those to find what will help you achieve inner peace, that’s the key!”

Over the past six weeks, Joe has lost 40 pounds, but the change that interests him the most is the transformation of his life. At 79, he hasn’t contented himself with reinventing himself; he rethought himself from the inside.

And he can’t wait for the adventures he’s preparing to begin.

I believe anything is possible. You can make a major change in your life at any age.

At 33, Tino Martinez started exercising and changed his life. He is seen here in Houston, Texas, where he ran a 5k race with his mother, Judith Smith, who is also pictured (photo provided)

If you’re 60, 70, 80 or older and think your time is over, lift your chin, smile and look around. Sort through all those things you’ve learned and start designing the new you.

Nina London is a Certified Wellness Coach, Qigong Teacher and Laughter Leader. Its mission is to support and help cancer patients and survivors and to inspire mature women to make positive changes in their bodies and minds. Share your inspiring stories with Nina at and follow her on Instagram @coachninalondon


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