Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tipped the scales at 330 pounds this morning as he kicked off a six-month weight loss campaign.
The weigh-in was part of the official launch of the Cut The Waist Challenge, aimed at encouraging Torontonians to lose weight and get healthy. The mayor says he hopes to lose 50 pounds by June 18.
“As you all know, over the past year I’ve worked hard to cut the waste here at City Hall — now I’d invite all Toronto to join me in cutting a different type of waist," said Ford, according to the Toronto Sun.
He will check his progress with a public weigh-in every Monday morning on a large scale at city hall.
Ford's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, is part of the program and weighed in at 275 pounds.
Those who want to join in will be able to track their progress on the Cut The Waist website.
Ford used a a vintage industrial scale from his family's printing company. His brother joked to the Globe and Mail that "It goes up to 700 pounds, so that’ll help when I jump on Rob’s shoulders."
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The brothers Ford have have already challenged Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to take part in the dieting challenge, drawing attention to the what they called the little bit of beef the popular Alberta mayor has in front of him. Nenshi has expressed his openness to taking part and has touted the New Year's weight-loss challenge his office is already taking part in.
Toronto's two political heavyweights have a good reason for going on a diet. "Rob has two young kids and I have four girls. We want to be around to watch them get married and be grandparents. If you're carrying this extra weight...it's not healthy. And we know that," said Doug Ford.
Ford has faced plenty of ridicule in the press for his waistline. In March of last year, NOW Magazine caused an uproar when it printed a photoshopped photo on its cover prominently featuring the mayor's naked belly.
Even the Globe ran a piece with the headline "Rob Ford’s not popular despite being fat. He’s popular because of it," although the piece was subsequently pulled from the web after widespread criticism.
HuffPost Canada blogger Ben Johnson has argued Ford's weight is a valid political issue, both because the mayor may face serious health problems while in office and because it indicates an irresponsible and short-sighted attitude.
Former mayor David Miller made headlines by dropping approximately 50 pounds while in office. If Ford can match that accomplishment he'll be well on his way to putting the gravy train jokes behind him once and for all.
He'll have his brother to lend him encouragement along the way. Doug Ford told the Globe he's also aiming to also lose 50 to 60 pounds and recapture the fitness of his younger days, when he worked out regularly and could bench press 350 pounds.
The mayor says eventually he would like to make it down to 225 pounds.
With files from The Canadian Press