For Abe, good health is the journey, not the destination
October 17, 2012 | Jack Borenstein - Correspondent
The annual Canadian Breast Cancer CIBC Run for The Cure occurred in Toronto recently. The race was an affirmation of the positive physical and mental metamorphosis that changed Abe Rosenthal’s life the past few years.
The 61-year-old was born in Vineland, NJ, and played pick-up hockey in his youth.
“At Wasdale Park we put up boards and watered snow to play shinny hockey after school,” he said.
Rosenthal’s parents were Holocaust survivors from Poland who came to the United States “thanks to the Baron De Hirsch Fund, which provided low-interest loans so my parents could have their own poultry business.”
Economic opportunity brought the Rosenthal family to Toronto when Abe was eight. He grew up in a modern orthodox setting and attended Eitz Chaim Day School and Ner Israel Yeshiva.
“Our family observed all Jewish holidays and I had my bar mitzvah at Agudath Israel.”
He graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts and took accounting courses at University of Toronto.
Rosenthal spent 30 years in the mortgage finance industry and was a broker specialist at banks like Royal Bank of Canada and Canada Trust.
Various personal matters and events affected Rosenthal, who was 40 pounds overweight by age 50 and diagnosed with Type II Diabetes five years later.
“After resolving my issues I wanted to address was my obesity. [I was] 5-foot-8 and 205 pounds,” he said. “I went to a hemo-scanning specialist for a blood sample analysis. I was told I didn’t drink enough water daily and was genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, which my father passed away from.”
He was told to immediately start losing weight and take vitamin supplements. He knew he had to make permanent lifestyle changes. He started working with a personal trainer two to three nights weekly and started walking 20 minutes on the treadmill “which for me was a great accomplishment. Calisthenics, rowing machine and weight training became part of my regimen. I was losing about two pounds weekly and a mindset of accomplishing my weight goal come hell or high water.”
Rosenthal joined a fitness club in summer 2010 and went down from 180 to 165 pounds.
“By September my physician said I no longer had Type II Diabetes, no high blood pressure or high cholesterol and I was taken off prescribed medications.”
In April 2011 Rosenthal spent a week in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) volunteer program.
“Their army diet contained huge carbohydrates and when I returned to Canada I had gained 15 pounds and running became a huge challenge. To regain endurance I needed to fast track my weight loss.”
He attended a weight loss clinic three times weekly and took Vitamin B6 and B12 shots, “which curbed my appetite and increased my metabolism and energy. I learned a great deal about proper nutrition and the importance of having three protein servings daily. I reached my goal by the end of August and dropped from size 40 waist to 34, jacket size from 46 down to 40, XL to medium and have been able to maintain these measurements for over a year.”
He resumed treadmill training and was running where before he would walk and now runs about 4-5 miles on weekends through Earl Bales Park.
“During winter time after runs I walk up the park’s ski hills and enjoy the fresh crisp air and elements of the season.”
Rosenthal spent three weeks in Israel including two weeks at an IDF base in May 2012 and continued with his daily workout routine, which “included running one hour daily on the army base.”
His interest in the Run for The Cure started this past summer while at a CIBC branch and saw a race poster.
“I was grateful to G-d for regaining my health and felt an obligation to do something meaningful like participating in a charity race.”
He started fundraising and expected to raise a couple hundred dollars “and was overwhelmed when I learned I had raised $1,164. I want to thank everyone who sponsored me and for their support.”
Rosenthal completed the run in his target of 30 minutes. He recalled afterwards how far he had come “being so unhealthy exactly three years ago where I couldn’t run for one minute. I felt a great sense of pride, euphoria and achievement and plan to compete in the 2013 Terry Fox 10K Run.”
His message to those fearful of attempting to lose weight is “if you want something badly enough always remember you can accomplish anything you want. Once achieving your weight goal make sure you stick to it.”