There is possibly nothing scarier than realizing your body is not functioning properly. Feeling unbearable pain and experiencing difficulty with performing daily functions, such as walking and breathing.
For 55-year-old Local 793 member Al Machado, that realization came to him in early 2019 when he recognized that a change in lifestyle was needed in order to take charge of his health.
Machado spent most of his life heavy-set. He was overweight as a child and by the time he left high school, he weighed close to 300 pounds.
“I’ve been overweight my whole life,” he said. “I was an active kid and was never lazy, but I just kept eating and eating and growing.
“I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself.”
As an adult, Machado continued to develop bad eating habits, saying there were days he would sit down at the dinner table and eat a full meal and then empty a bag of potato chips while watching television.
Machado’s quality of life was rapidly deteriorating, yet he didn’t realize it.
Not until Saturday, January 12, 2019.
While hosting close friends for pizza and camaraderie, he noticed severe pain in his legs while walking to the kitchen to serve his guests drinks. The pain was so severe that it required Machado to find something to lean on for support.
“I couldn’t stand for more than 30 seconds without feeling excruciating pain in my legs. It was devastating, and it really took its toll on me that day,” he said. At that time, he weighed 392 pounds.
“I felt like I knew I was going to die. The signs were there, and I had too much left to do in this world. I didn’t want to leave my loved ones behind so early.”
The following morning, Machado reflected on the need to do something about his weight if he wanted to lead a happy and fulfilling life. And so, he made a conscious decision to create that change.
“I promised myself that I will begin to eat proportionately and not overindulging. And exercising was going to become part of my daily routine,” he said. “The decision to make the change was sheer determination to live and not die.”
Machado went for a walk through his neighbourhood that morning and found himself out of breath just three houses down.
He went for another stroll later that afternoon, this time passing by six homes.
“Within two weeks, I was walking all the way down to the end of the street, which is probably 500 yards,” he said. “Every day I would push myself a little farther and remind myself to not have a sedentary lifestyle.”
Machado often reflects on a conversation he had with a co-worker a few years prior. He was asked if he’d made any New Year’s resolutions and his response was to lose weight. His co-worker replied “you eat to live and not live to eat,” and those words have resonated with Machado ever since.
“At that moment, it all sunk in. That was what I have been doing my whole life. I’ve been living to eat, and I don’t need to do that.
“To this day, I live by those words.”
Machado admits he hasn’t quit on his favourite foods but now it’s about eating in moderation and making the right choices.
“I’ll still go and get my burger down the road but now I won’t have the fries or poutine and I’ll drink water instead of Coke. Or at the dinner table, I’ll still want that piece of bread, but I’ll eat just one slice and not two or three.”
Machado is always looking for ways to be active and finding reasons to get out of his truck when things slow down on the jobsite.
“When the truck stops, I don’t sit anymore. I get out and help the boys shovel or sweep, or I will simply take a walk down the street,” he said.
Machado spent many years working in the printing and packaging industry before deciding it was time for a career change.
Always intrigued with being a machine operator, he acquired his DZ licence and was immediately hired as a roll-off truck driver for a disposal company out of Bolton. Things progressed from there.
Machado has two-and-half years’ service working for Kapp Infrastructure.
“[KAPP] is the best company I’ve ever worked for and my boss, Tony Santos, is like no other,” Machado said.
Machado joined Local 793 in 2016 while working for Primrose Contracting. Before that, he was a non-union worker and wanted to join the Local alongside many of his coworkers.
“It was the best move I ever made,” he said about becoming a Local 793 member. “I should have done it years ago – I love 793.”
His weight is still slightly more than he would like to be, but he doesn’t want to go down a road of dieting and changing what has worked for him so far.
Machado is proud of his progress and ongoing journey. “I’ve never been on a diet. I just changed my way of life and the decisions I make, and it worked.”
Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise is essential for supporting healthy immune function, preventing weight gain, boosting your mood, and keeping you as healthy as possible.
Visit OEBAC.org for more tips and advice on ways to impove both your physical and mental health.