Shaping Up, Shedding Excuses

In a matter of just six months, Stef Paquette has gone from being a self-proclaimed “Fat lazy guy who was always too busy to play with his kids, but never too busy to have a beer and a cigarette,” to somewhat of a fitness fanatic whose kids are starting to wonder how they can tap into his reservoir of energy.

His after-work routine has evolved from deciding which frozen meal to microwave, plopping in front of the television to chow down, then getting his daily exercise walking outside to have a cigarette to being busy in the kitchen, chopping up veggies to go with the homemade meal he’s prepared, enjoying mealtime with his wife and three kids, then heading outdoors to cycle with the family.

“I was a hockey player for 15 years, but (before beginning this journey) I couldn’t remember the last time I exercised or even had enough energy to play with the kids at the end of the day,” Paquette says.

Steered by sheer will power and a personal goal of losing weight to be able to audition for a television show coming to Sudbury, Paquette managed to quit smoking, drinking and shed 50 pounds and did, in fact, audition. His weight dropped from 283 pounds to 233 pounds, he now fits into a large size T-shirt rather than double extra large, and his pant size is down from 42 inches to 34 inches.

“I figured there’s no bigger show of commitment than a lifestyle change, and I wanted the directors to see that I was committed,” Paquette, a Sudbury-based professional musician and radio host, says.

What’s the secret to successful weight loss? Well, the secret is there is no secret. There’s no quick fix, he says. It’s about putting an end to making excuses and just doing the things in your life that support healthy, active living. Even his choice of beverage for hydration was wrapped around excuses.

“I never really liked vegetables so I would drink a lot of juice, saying I was getting the same vitamins from the juice so I didn’t have to eat vegetables.”

“My lifestyle was all about excuses,” Paquette says. “I’d think, I’m stressed so I need a cigarette. I’ve had a big day, so I need a drink. I’m on the go, so I need to eat at a fast-food restaurant.”

Create an environment that supports your goal of losing weight, surround yourself with the right kind of people and make a commitment to stay on track.

“You know, it sucks to cut out pasta and cookies and all that stuff, but what doesn’t suck is people looking at you and saying how great you look,” and feeling energized for the entire day, not to mention not being riddled with health problems, he says. “In the past, I loved my crappy food too much to want to give it up to lose weight.”

Gone is his sleep apnea. There’s no more lethargy; no more “major breathing problems” and respiratory infections to contend with every three months. It’s all disappeared, Paquette says.

What has his commitment to healthy active living meant for the home environment? Well, one thing is for certain, the kids, ages five, 11 and 14, can no longer use the excuse that daddy’s not eating his vegetables so nor should they need to eat their veggies.  They collectively decided on family resolutions at the start of the year, vowing not to bring sugar cereals or white bread into the home. They eat together during meal times and cycle whenever possible.

“When you hear these things about leading by example, until you do it you don’t really realize you are your child’s role model.”

“Parents need to realize that their kids aren’t the ones doing the groceries; you are,” Paquette says. “Sometimes you hear parents say ‘My kids drink too much pop.’ Who do you think buys the pop? As a parent you control the food that comes into your home. If there’s no pop in the house, the kids will soon realize they have to drink water or milk when they’re thirsty.”

He introduced exercise into the fold right at the beginning, working with a program designed by a personal trainer whom he barters with in exchange for marketing services, and engages in outdoor morning fitness boot camps, baseball and cycling.

His personal goal to lose weight led to a workplace wellness weight loss challenge that helped create an environment that supports healthy living in the workplace. Supporting and receiving support from colleagues helped all the employees with their weight loss goals. One employee had a habit of drinking two litres of soft drinks daily. He and his colleague made a pact that if his colleague brings in a regular soft drink, Paquette will dump it down the drain. Seems harsh, but it works, says Paquette.

They turned their weight loss challenge into a fundraiser, with each employee collecting pledges – a minimum of .50 cents per pound lost, that were donated to five local charities. Collectively, the French radio station Le Loup, where Paquette is employed, raised $4500 and lost a combined 163 pounds.

Tips for Weight Loss Success

1)  Find a partner to workout with, to motivate each other. Be sure to share your successes with your partner, regardless of how minute you feel the success was. If you managed to drive past Tim Hortons without stopping to buy the coffee and donut you ordinarily do, then that’s a success to be celebrated.

2)  Ask your spouse, friend or motivating partner to write down your excuses. Every time you make an excuse have them write it down. Then read the excuses a week later. You’d be surprised how many times you made an excuse and didn’t do what you had intended on doing. When you read the excuses later on, you are able to see it more clearly.

3)  Don’t stock the pantry or fridge with processed foods or junk foods. It’s hard to stay away from junk food if it’s staring at you every time you open the cupboard.

4)  Make family/group or workplace resolutions, like deciding that this year there will be no more pop in the house, or the workplace.

5)  Plan your meals and shopping, and set aside time to prepare meals. It’s challenging to follow a healthy diet if you haven’t planned what food you’ll have access to.

6)  Find a way to add more physical activity into your day. Walk or ride a bike whenever possible, join a sports club or find an activity that you really enjoy.