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.

My life would be perfect if only…I won the lottery, I could swap bodies with a much younger version of me, I lost 50lbs, I had more energy, I found more time…

The Negative Thought Pattern:

My life would be perfect if only I lost 50lbs… but I haven’t lost 50 lbs, so that is why my life isn’t perfect and I’m not happy. Well I guess I’m not happy, I need to lose 50lbs and then I’ll be happy…losing 50lbs is a lot of work, uh that is depressing…no wonder I’m not happy…

Have you ever found yourself stuck in this kind of a thought pattern? Steals your energy, your motivation and brings you down, doesn’t it? While it is important to identify what isn’t working in your life to bring you health and happiness, it is even more important to avoid falling in to the trap of letting this kind of thinking become an excuse for inaction. ‘If only’ statements can easily create negative thought patterns which can

keep you blinded about where you are now, the progress you’ve already made and the aspects of your life you have to be grateful for. Excuses let you off the hook for taking action because it places the emphasis on wanting what you don’t have and why you can’t get there.

It is easy to fall into the habit of looking at where you are now and where you would like to be and calling the space in between a wasted effort. This kind of negative thinking can apply to all areas of your life, but seems to be especially prevalent in our attitudes towards our bodies and health. Identifying obstacles to health and happiness and then setting goals to bring about positive changes in your life is useful. Getting trapped in negative thought patterns that allow you to make excuses for why you are stuck or can’t have what you want won’t keep you motivated to achieve your goals.

Help yourself create the life you want. Be honest with your feelings about yourself, your health, your body and the work it takes to bring about positive change. Learn to recognize your negative thought patterns and the excuses they generate. Start thinking positively by recognizing something about your life/self/situation you are grateful for. Use this positive thinking to stay motivated. This is especially valuable when it comes to your health and managing your weight. Learn as much as you can about how your body works and what it needs to thrive. Then you can use your knowledge to make beneficial dietary and lifestyle choices to stick with your journey to better health.

Last issue’s column busted some weightloss and calorie myths. One of the most important principles to remember is that the number of calories present in a food does not tell you the nutritional integrity, the quality or the health creating potential of foods. When you learn how the body works, and the ‘ingredients’ you need to thrive, this principle really becomes something to live by.

The human body is intelligent. Your body is equipped with instructions on how to repair, rebuild to produce and manage energy vital to living that are coded right into your cells, along with the ability to carry out those instructions efficiently. A healthy body is one in which this process is happening efficiently, where your metabolism manages your weight, and you feel well, with energy to spare! In order for these vital processes to take place, very specific compounds and nutrients must be available for the body to use. The more stress you have to handle (physical, emotional, mental stress and even illness), the more important these compounds and nutrients are to maintaining the body’s vital processes. This is where eating nourishing foods, not calories, becomes essential.

Your body needs substances from nature including vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids, water, fibre, carbohydrates and other compounds, which we can call nutrients. All of the vital processes necessary to sustaining life, and creating optimal health, require these nutrients. We should get these nutrients from eating foods. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of convenient, packaged, pre-made foods that make up a large portion of our diets are not supplying the nutrients your body looks for.

In fact, many of them are not only devoid of essential nutrients; they can act as nutrient-robbers and can even be toxic or unrecognizable to the body as food. Processed foods are foods made from parts of plants, most often grains, whose nutrients are lost when they are processed from the whole form to an ingredient used to make ‘convenience’ foods. Other ingredients, often synthetic or denatured, are added to improve texture, flavour, colour, and to extend their shelf life. The more processed the food the less nutritional value it has.

Foods in their whole form provide optimal nutritional support. Beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils and grains provide the nutrients which support health and wellbeing. Organic, lean quality meats, poultry, fish, eggs and milk products can also be incorporated into a healthy diet and do provide essential nutrients. A good quality, well formulated multi- vitamin and mineral supplement program that provides nutrients in the forms similar to those found in foods can also be a useful way to ensure you are not missing anything vital.

Here is a recap. Learn to identify self-defeating negative thought patterns, practice being grateful and make an effort to stay positive. Follow a nutrient-packed whole foods diet high in simple unprocessed foods, organic lean quality meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, fibre, good and essential fats from nuts, seeds and cold pressed oils, vegetables at every meal, colourful fruit and plenty of clean, pure water. Learn as much as you can about your body and how to keep yourself healthy.

Adele Fawcett, BA hon, ROHP, is a registered nutritional consulting practitioner and registered orthomolecular health practitioner at the Valley Nutrition Centre in Greater Sudbury.

May 21, 2018