Wow, I’ll bet that none of you would have thought I would ever post something so political… well, it’s not. Read on.
First of all, for those of you who do not know the Greater Toronto Area, I should explain that I actually live in a city called Oakville, Ontario. When I am outside of the province I generally either tell people that I live in Toronto, or if they seem to know a little about geography I say that I live about halfway from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Either way, I do not actually live in the City of Toronto, and do not have the right to vote here. I vote here in Oakville, and think that our mayor (Rob Burton, a very nice guy who is himself a PC and has attended my Windows 7 events) does a fine job, and does not seem to need to diet.
With all of that being said, Oakville does not really have talk radio to speak of; we may not live in Toronto, but we still live in the proverbial shadow of the CN Tower. My radio stations in the car are all tuned to Toronto stations, and I seem to gravitate toward talk radio over music. My usual station of choice is therefore News Talk 1010. I may not vote in Toronto, but I get all of their dirt
So the story goes: in November, 2010 Toronto elected a new mayor – Rob Ford – whose main platform was that he was going to cut out the gravy at City Hall, and would get the city’s finances in order. I will not comment on whether he has or has not done this; I know he is currently very unpopular for a lot of the moves he has made (and what seems to be his inability to get along well or work well with others), but I do not need to be a financial wizard to understand that a lot of the cuts he would like to make will take time to pay dividends, and in order to slash the budget he necessarily has to slash services, piss off unions, and step on a lot of toes. None of that interests me, other than the fact that my subway token now costs a little more than it did a year ago, for the 30 days a year that I spend in the city.
There’s no nice way to put it (well there are, but I don’t sugar coat these things). Mayor Ford is fat. To be fair, I would bet that if on January 16th (a relevant date) we had stood side by side on the scale we would have been within about 7lbs of each other. This is actually not a fair bet; on that day I DID step onto a scale, and know what I weighed… and so did the Mayor, and I know what HE weighed. He got onto a scale at a press conference and weighed in at 330lbs. I was in fact 6.9lbs heavier than him (Yes, this is the first time I am revealing to anyone what I weighed).
The Mayor (along with his brother Doug, a city councilor and chiefly irrelevant to this article) launched a public campaign that he called ‘Mayor Ford’s Cut the Waist Challenge.’ I was not very interested at the time (nor am I especially so now) but that week I made a similar, albeit much less public, decision. I decided to start training for my Second Degree Black Belt Test, which I will take on June 3rd. I also decided that I wanted to test at 65lbs less than I was at the time – a VERY lofty (weighty? ) goal. A month into my own challenge I codified my plan in an article on this page called ‘Planning for Success: A fat man’s plan to test for his Second Dan Black Belt.’ I wasn’t going to hold press conferences and public weigh-ins, but I was up front about what I needed to do, and how I hoped to accomplish it.
If you follow this blog you also know that I have started blogging on Fitbit.com about my progress, mostly to do with my jogging. I am not discussing my diet regimen at all because it is one that I do not and would not endorse, but suffice it to say that this morning when I stepped on the scale (three months after Mayor Ford’s challenge began) I have lost 47lbs… the Mayor has lost 22.
I want to be clear: I am firstly not competing with Mayor Ford, and secondly I commend his efforts and laud his success. Losing weight is NOT easy, especially for busy high-profile people on the go. While the Mayor makes a big deal of how busy he is, I am sure if you have looked at my travel schedule you will know that I am no slouch either. What he is done is amazing, and I applaud him for it.
So this morning the Toronto Sun posted a video on its website showing the Mayor (who still looks pretty big… but then, so do I) walking into a KFC, with the people who recorded the video (apparently from their car on a camera phone) laughing at him and making fun of him. The story has taken up hours of talk radio time and I am sure will be in the newspapers in the morning.
Now here’s the deal, folks. Remember when I said that I applaud his efforts and his success? I speak from a position of understanding… I AM in the Mayor’s shoes. As athletic as I was as a kid and (obviously) right through the army, after that I started gaining weight, and found myself weighing as much as 350lbs. I love to eat, drink, and be merry. I love rich foods and I love fast foods, and over the years no matter what diet I have tried, and no matter how strict I was with it, something always happened to derail me, and I would put the weight back on.
If you have not struggled with weight issues then you have no idea what you are talking about.
Let me clarify that… I have a friend who weighs about 125lbs. She thinks she needs to lose weight, and struggles with it. Do me a favour and sit down… you don’t know. You are always struggling with the extra 10-25lbs you wish you could lose to look like a runway model? Shut up, YOU don’t know. I am talking about people who have gone to the doctor and heard for years that they had to lose a lot of weight or else they were going to get sick and die. People like Mayor Ford… people like me. Yes, my name is Mitch Garvis, and I am a fat SOB who needs to lose a lot of weight. I get to comment because I KNOW. 30lbs? Go away, you don’t have a clue.
Along my journey Master Dimitrios Beis has been my coach, mentor, and friend. HE knows, because HE used to be fat. Now he is a Fifth Dan Master, but once upon a time he was as big as I am. So when he tells me every couple of weeks ‘Mitch, it’s time for you to indulge… go have a plate of wings or something;’ I trust him. His explanation – and he is right – is that if you deprive yourself of all of the foods you love for a long period of time you will eventually fall off the horse and go mad. I know he is right because I lost 40lbs in the seven weeks leading up to my Black Belt Test two years ago and guess what… I found every last one of them, plus ten of their friends.
I don’t know if the chicken that the Mayor bought was really for his family (as the media is reporting) or if he bought a small little wrap for himself, or if he bought a bucket of extra-crispy that he sat in a dark room devouring alone. It’s none of my business. However if he has fallen off the wagon, rather than making fun of him we should be encouraging him to get back up off the ground, point out the positive progress he has made, and have a little understanding that three months of salad… <shudder!> Let the man have his fried chicken in peace.
A group of Troglodyte morons who want to point fingers and laugh like hyenas will do nothing but discourage the Mayor, which is just mean and stupid (I get called fat all the time… but not a lot of people have the nerve to say it to my face and laugh), or I hope get the Mayor mad and refocused, and get him back on the horse. Don’t think though that if this happens, morons, that you helped him… his success will be in spite of you and not because of you.
And for all of the media outlets who devoted any time to this today, I would like to point out that there is an election coming up in Alberta, a presidential campaign in the US, an Indian missile test, a Toronto police officer stabbed in the neck, an economy trying to recover, gas prices at near-record highs, Europe is still on the verge of collapse, the NHL playoffs are in full swing, there’s a playoff race in the NBA, and if you ARE going to focus on how hard it is to lose weight, then rather than just either pointing fingers, or (just as bad) spending an hour or column issues discussing the people who pointed fingers, you could have nutrition, athletic, and psychological experts on to discuss how difficult it is and what a good first step would be, and what to do when you do falter.
By the way… I had six chicken wings at Wegman’s this afternoon for lunch… anyone want to make something of it? I’ll be in the Dojang tomorrow evening from 7-9 and would love to discuss it with you in the sparring ring. By the way… BRING IT… I may still be a fat SOB, but I am 47lbs less so than I was, and today’s chicken wings just fueled the next two weeks of dieting and training.
Good luck Mayor Ford.