TORONTO: In January, as the TV cameras rolled, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stepped on an industrial scale and tipped the needle to an eye-popping 330 pounds.
Even he seemed taken aback. “It’s the heaviest I’ve ever been,” he said. “I’ve got young children — this is not healthy. You’re running the city, and you can’t be doing all this at 330 pounds.”
Thus began a very public battle to lose weight. Ford launched his “cut the waist challenge,” a public health campaign that invites residents of Canada’s biggest city to slim down. For his part, he vowed to lose 50 pounds by mid-June and to track his success with weekly, public weigh-ins.
It started off great. In the first week, the 5-foot-10-inch Ford lost 10 pounds. He took up jogging and weight lifting and cut back on sweets.
“It’s pretty hard,” he said at his second weigh-in, noting the excruciating temptation every time he spots an ice-cream shop while driving.
Ford is Toronto’s populist, Tea Party-type mayor. He was elected in November 2010 on promises to axe the city’s $9.2 billion operating budget. It hasn’t gone well. Once charged in Florida with drunk driving and possession of marijuana, he has struggled with anger management issues in office, admitting to swearing at a 911 operator, and accused of flashing the middle finger to a woman while driving.
As his political troubles grew, so did his struggle to lose weight. After managing to lose 22 pounds, he gained four, and canceled two weigh-ins at the last minute, without explanation.
Then, last week, in what appeared to be a moment of weakness, Ford was caught on cell-phone video by a woman laughing at the sight of him entering a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. “He’s supposed to be losing weight,” the woman is heard saying as she films the mayor.
“The guy’s trying his hardest — well, maybe not his hardest, but he’s trying,” Ford’s brother, Doug, a city councilor, also trying to lose weight, said of the video.