Forty-one-year-old Winnipegger Ron Oberlin's simple quest to lose weight has sparked an athletic passion that's taking him to a national triathlon competition in Kelowna, B.C.

"My goal for this year is to qualify to represent Canada at the World Championship," he says.

It's a remarkable transformation because just two years ago Oberlin was obese at 283 pounds.

He says he couldn't lean over without holding his breath, or play catch with his kids.

"The weight crept up all of a sudden. I found it frustrating. I was wearing size 42 pants, and they were starting to feel snug, and I thought 'it needs to end.'"

The weight really came on after spending long sedentary hours at work, while completing a master’s degree in health policy at night.

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Ron Oberlin before his transformation. ((Ron Oberlin))

So Oberlin set about getting active, by riding his bike and walking on a treadmill at Elmwood Kildonan Pool.

When his 14-year-old son joined a youth triathlon team, he got the triathlon bug too. They now run, cycle, and swim together in Bird's Hill Park, just outside Winnipeg, almost every day.

"I'm proud of him," said his teenage son Bryn Oberlin. "Like I didn't really realize how much 100 pounds was until one of my friends came over, and he's about 100 lbs, and [my dad] said, 'man, I lost you!'"

Oberlin's employer also got involved.

"So they know not to set up lunchtime meetings, and I swim during my lunch hours. They also have bike stands at my work and showers."

Last year, Rob Oberlin won four races to become Manitoba's fastest sprint-distance triathlete in the age category of 40 to 49. Such races take some up to two hours to complete. Oberlin's best time was one hour and 11 minutes.

Oberlin says his athletic journey was motivated by a fear of heart attacks and cancer.

"My dad and my grandfather both died from cancer in their 50s, and I'm 41 years old now, and I want to make sure I'm around for my kids."

He says, even in one's 40s, it's not too late to lose weight.

"It's not too late, and I didn't deny myself a single thing during this whole transformation. If I wanted chips or crackers, I had some. I just had less of it."

The Aug. 21 race is called the Pushor Mitchell Kelowna Apple Triathlon. Oberlin hopes to place in the top 10, to qualify for the world championship in New Zealand.