If you ask first-time rider Mark Brotherton when he started training for the annual Kaiser Permanente Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride, he’ll say the real journey started in 2002 when his doctor told him he had high cholesterol. Brotherton changed his diet and started riding his bike. He lowered his cholesterol by 60 points and was motivated to continue his efforts to get even healthier.
“I was eating better and exercising, but I wasn’t seeing the weight loss,” he says. “Some of the things I was eating weren’t nutritious, and I still ate a lot of empty calories.”
A local transit driver in Walla Walla, Brotherton signed up for his employer’s wellness program and got a big wake-up call.
“My initial assessment showed that I was at risk for diabetes,” he recalls. He also learned that if you’re overweight, losing even 5% to 7% of your body weight can help reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. That gave him the motivation he needed to join the diabetes prevention program offered by his employer, which included a health coach, a wireless smart scale, and a supportive peer group.
“Now I weigh myself daily, and only eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and little bit of meat,” Brotherton says of his new routine.
As his 65th birthday approached, Brotherton decided it was time to sign up for this year’s Kaiser Permanente Seattle to Portland, a 206-mile bicycle ride scheduled for July 13 and 14.
“I’ve always wanted to do the STP,” he says. “I knew if I didn’t do it now it would be too easy to keep saying ‘later.’ As soon as I signed up I started telling everyone, including my co-workers. There’s no going back now.”
Getting ready for the big ride
To prepare for the STP, Brotherton trains on his bike 4 days a week, gradually increasing his mileage and following STP training tips from Kaiser Permanente. Brotherton is honoring his late brother, who died of cancer in 1994, by using his training miles to fundraise for children’s cancer research. “My brother’s spirit and determination will be with me on my ride from Seattle to Portland,” he says.
Brotherton also receives strength and core training through his employer’s wellness program to supplement his bike training. Through all his efforts, he’s lost 20 pounds, meeting his 7% weight loss goal.
“There hasn’t been a real rough spot in training because I feel like I’ve been preparing for this the way I should, and I’ve had support through Kaiser Permanente programs,” he says. “I don’t miss the foods I used to eat, and I look forward to everything I’m doing to make this happen in July.”
Brotherton will be joined at the finish line in Portland by his family and grandchildren.
“It’s nice to feel like I’m making a positive impact,” he says. “I’m so glad to be able to share this journey with family, friends, and co-workers.”
If you’d like to join Brotherton and others for the 40th anniversary of the STP bike ride, sign up today.