The Thing That Scares Me – by Marc Laferriere

I weigh 283 pounds. My weight is creeping back up to the highest it has ever been in my adult life – 297 pounds.  

I’ve almost always been big. I’ve found ways to mask it, hide it, make jokes about it, deal with it and move on. But I don’t believe I should move on. It’s time to do more about it.

It’s not something I admit to everyone. I’ve always struggled with my weight. It’s more than a little embarrassing and it has a personal effect. It is a confidence sapper and not because of other people. In my adult life my weight hasn’t stopped me from any job, relationship or achievement. I just don’t like it. I don’t like it and that’s enough. I know there are many other readers out there who can relate.

As a kid it wasn’t always the case. When your last name can be so easily changed from Laferriere to La-fat-derrière it’s going to be an impediment. And yes, it’s ok to laugh at that last line. 

Being anywhere close to 300 pounds scares me. The health complications can be intense and while I may be young, the consequences will catch up to me if not corrected. Even now, as a thirty-year-old, it is beginning. I’m starting to feel knee troubles. I have an unrelated back injury that is no doubt made much worse by my weight. That constant pull from the stomach is no good for any lower back. I know it affects my sleep too and my energy levels.

People are big for all kinds of reasons. I know there are genetic pieces (I come from a big family), and societal pieces (seriously, how many commercials for food can there be), and many other learned and psychological reasons. I had an odd epiphany the other day followed by a phone call that I think will help. I go to the Farmer’s Market a lot. Yet every week or two I find myself throwing out fruits and vegetables. Not a ton but enough that it bugs me. I love these foods so why am I throwing them out?  I grew up a welfare kid. I know it has a cleaned up name now and I respect that but it didn’t back then. You were a welfare kid, or you were not. I definitely was. A cheque once a month, no car and no accessible grocery stores near our Eagle Place home meant we went for groceries once a month. In a situation like that you buy your food very carefully. It has to last a month and you can’t spend too much. Needless to say fresh fruits and vegetables were sacred and relegated to about a 3 or 4 day window of post-grocery shopping bliss.

As an adult, I still think like that 9 year-old boy and try to save the good stuff. It’s sick. I know better. I’m an adult now but the lean towards that kind of thinking remains. The still-too-fresh scars of having lived without. I have much to unlearn when it comes to fitness and nutrition.

Of course it’s hard and I have all the excuses in the world. I’m a therapist and sitting is the norm. I got used to poor eating habits as a child that that haunt me still. I’m busy with work. I’m busy with community events. I’m busy with The Advocate. I’m just busy.

At the end of the day while true they are just excuses. I can re-prioritize. I can drop some of the things I do for the sake of my health and quality of life and I can learn new things. It will be hard. I don’t want to make a lot of lifestyle changes. Truth be told, I really like my life except for this one thing that has always been in the background. But that one thing is pretty major; I weigh 283 pounds and it’s simply not healthy.

Recently, Steve Kostoff, one of my old university roommates gave me a call. He’s a great friend and has been a trainer for years. Steve is a natural athlete who has gone 

beyond his given gifts to learn so much more about fitness, sports, psychology and nutrition. He had seen a music video Ida Adamowicz and Evan Champagne did for The Advocate. I’m in it briefly. He saw it, saw I was getting bigger and called me to tell me something I frankly needed to hear. “Marc I saw the video you posted. I’m worried about you. Let me help.”

That’s the kind of honesty you can have between good friends. And the words “let me help” can be a very big deal in someone’s life. I’m tired of not being able to figure out how to do this on my own and I’m grateful to have a friend willing to help.

Over the next 6 months we will be documenting the journey online at the Khaotic Training website, Facebook page and our twitter feeds (@MarcLaferriere & @SKostoff) and offering tips on conditioning and nutrition along the way from the point of view of both the trainer and the novice who has no idea what he is about to get himself into. It promises to be a bit embarrassing, wholly interesting and we hope educational and motivational to those on a similar journey.

We want to help others and at the end of the next 6 months I might just be able to write a column that won’t start with the opening line “I weigh 283 pounds.”

2 Replies to “The Thing That Scares Me – by Marc Laferriere”

  1. @s_sherry

    I hope I can follow along with you Marc as my health has really deteriorated this past year and I know my weight is exacerbating my medical conditions. I can barely walk.

    I am starting Yoga this month (if I can afford to) at the Beckett Centre. I desperately need more oxygen (I was done to 93 one day last week and that is dangerous). Yoga increases your oxygen flow. I am really looking forward to it and other exercises (bad word for me) so I can stay awake, never mind the detrimental side effects that are not going on in my life. Good luck. No need for embarrassment. Look at the statistics on obesity among our children in Canada alone. It is frightening.

  2. Kate

    I've been struggling witht the same issue all of my my adult life. There was no way to keep the weight off except through very unhealthy behaviours. Now, in middle age, there's no way at all.

    I'll be watching for your posts…thanks, Mark

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