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Mayor Ford urged not to rush public weight-loss campaign

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford jokes around while standing on a scale during a weigh in marking the start of a 6 month weight loss challenge that Ford and his brother Doug are attempting in Toronto on Monday, January 16, 2012. Ford weighed in at 330lbs and hopes to loose 50lbs by June 18th.

Pawel Dwulit for The Globe and Mail/pawel dwulit The Globe and Mail

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford once called himself "300 pounds of fun." The true figure, it turns out, is 330 pounds.

The mayor stood on an industrial scale outside his city hall office for an official weigh-in Monday morning. As news cameras clicked, the needle went to 330.

The media event kicked off what he calls Mayor Ford's Cut the Waist Challenge. Mr. Ford vowed to shed 50 pounds by June 18 in a bid to improve his health and set an example for other overweight Canadians.

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He challenged other cities to keep up with Torontonians as they lose weight and share their weight loss stories on

"Enough is enough," he said. "It's the heaviest I've ever been. I've got young children. You can't be running the city, you can't be doing all this, at 330."

He said he and his brother Doug got to talking during a family vacation in Florida and decided they had to do something about their weight. He said he would start an exercise program and show up for a weigh-in every Monday morning to check his progress. To cut pounds, he will "hit the gym, lift some weights, do some walking, do some jogging" and stop having late-night snacks. His weakness, he said, is raiding the fridge for ice cream.

Radio talk show host John Tory introduced the mayor and praised him for the move. It takes courage to lose weight, he said, and "It takes even more courage to do it when you're a public figure."

YMCA chair Gordon Chong also praised the Fords for "actually acknowledging the fun that has been poked at them in respect to their rotundity, let's put it that way."

Joking around before the weigh in, the mayor patted down his brother to make sure he was not carrying extra weight to fix the count. He invited the "skinny guy" to weigh himself first.

Doug Ford weighed in at 275. He said he is five foot eleven inches and the mayor is five foot ten. The mayor said his ultimate goal was to get down to 225 pounds.

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Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, sharing his own weight loss secrets, offered some advice to the mayor: "Don't rush it. Take your time," he cautioned. Mr. Duncan has shed 54 pounds and now weighs 194 pounds. He has another 26 pounds to go before hitting the upper end of his normal weight range.

"I wish him well. It's about health. It's about his kids," Mr. Duncan told reporters at Queen's Park, where he was asked about Mr. Ford's very public weight challenge. But he warned Mr. Ford that losing 50 pounds in just three or four months is not realistic. Mr. Duncan began his own weight loss regimen 19 months ago and managed not to add any pounds over the Christmas holidays for the first time in 30 years.

"Do it slowly. Do it from a health perspective," Mr. Duncan said. "Given the challenge he's faced with, I hope he's seeing a doctor, not just weighing in for the cameras."

With a file from Karen Howlett

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About the Author
Toronto columnist

Marcus Gee is Toronto columnist for the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper.Born in Toronto, he graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1979 with a degree in modern European history, then worked as a reporter for The Province, Vancouver's morning newspaper. More

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