By Tania Haas
As a teenaged Air Force brat, Rodney Bowers would run cross-country amid the inland dunes, pine woods and heather marshes of the Teverener Heide near where his family was based in The Netherlands. The Newfoundlander was a highly ranked squash player and running was a major part of his training. Then came competitive kitchens and running was exchanged for the chopping block.
Now a familiar personality on television and social media, Bowers spent years building up his expertise and credibility with celebrated restaurants The Rosebud, The Citizen and Hey Meatball. As his food star rose, his physical fitness took a nosedive.
“I call those 15 years my ‘Dark Period.’ I was immersed in work, opening new locations, there were a lot of late nights, and I was not taking my health seriously,” recalls Bowers, a father of two.
In 2015, Bowers hit 440 lb. and could no longer deny that his weight was preventing him from enjoying activities he used to love. So he returned to the gym and started running. These days, he focuses on interval runs and strength training, though his favourite time is spent outdoors.
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“I’m more of a waddler or a quick shuffler,” Bowers laughs. “I shuffle through High Park with my dog Lucy and it takes me back to my teenage years when I would lose myself in the woods and the sounds of the forest.”
Bowers says he had to address an addiction to sugar and being a food and work addict. These habits were ways to cope with the pressure of entrepreneurship in the cutthroat food and restaurant industry. At moments of stress or duress, Bowers would eat without even enjoying it.
My days have transitioned with the restaurant opening to look typically like this… 6am-8am chores, emails,breakfast,pack lunches . 8-9am walk the kids to camp and run Lucy . 9am-9:30pm cook breakfast lunch and dinner @bunnysrestaurant 9:30-10pm grocery shop for home. And because it's no whining Wednesday 10-11:30pm. Gym .4km intervals on the treadmill , weights arm and shoulders. Soooooo…The only thing high fashion tonight at the gym were my shoes. Don't mind the top bun mess in the mirror, I made it didn't I . Thanks again @ehastie1 for helping me keep it tight. And big shoutout to the kids Nanny… Alyson for staying the extra time to help keep me healthy and happy. I couldn't make it happen with out you.#nowhining . . . . #wednesday #getit #hustle #headup #sweat #armday #plussize #curvy #plussizefashion #plussizemodel #braun #newbalance #weights #cardio #gym #gymrat #transformation #weightwatchers #fit #fitfamily #dadlife
He still has those urges, but a renewed resilience – supported by a mindfulness course and a regular meditation practice at a local Buddhism centre – helps him stay on track (and remain kindhearted and encouraging if he backslides). Today he is 370 lb. and inspiring others with his weight management journey on Instagram and The Marilyn Denis Show.
“We have so many escapes and mine was eating. I would wait for Dairy Queen to open so I could get a peanut butter cup Oreo Blizzard. Now I can talk about this and throw loving kindness at it. I have compassion for myself, and, subsequently, a new power and strength over those urges.”
Running is another part of Bowers’ transformation to balance negative thoughts and behaviours with positive ones.
This story appears in the September & October 2017 issue of Canadian Running.