Man who lost 430lb ready to run in Challenge
For Michael LaPlante, “I can’t” has become “when can we?”.
Two years ago, he weighed in at 680lbs and could not walk to the end of his driveway.
Since losing more than 400lbs, the 35-year-old from New England has discovered a new lease of life. Now fitter than ever, he is on the island to take on the Bermuda Triangle Challenge this weekend.
“I’m nervously apprehensive,” he told The Royal Gazette. “I’ve done a couple of 5Ks but this will easily be the furthest I’ve run — in the loosest sense of the word ‘run’.”
He knows he can do the distance, even if he does not run the full 13 miles of the half-marathon. But the daunting part is the back-to-back nature of the three events, he said.
Mr LaPlante, who is visiting Bermuda for the first time, started running about four months ago because he wanted to up the ante of his training regime.
“I’ve never been a runner in my life, even when I was a kid,” Mr LaPlante, who now works out twice a day, explained. “I took it on as a personal challenge to try to run — it’s slow going.”
Mr LaPlante had been overweight since about the third grade and he steadily put on the pounds over the years.
“Twenty-nine to 33 was my low,” he said.
But he decided to turn his life around after waking up early one morning to use the toilet only to feel as if he was having a heart attack.
The thought that he might “die on the toilet like a less popular Elvis” and that this would be all he was remembered for made him realise something had to change and he underwent bariatric surgery.
“I made some changes in my life. I started loosing weight. I lost 430lbs in the last 19 months.”
About 16 months ago he started taking a class designed to help him change his interactions with food.
“It taught me how to change my relationship with food. I say that’s the biggest key to my success.”
“I’ve never once been on a diet. I eat whatever I want, I just don’t eat a lot of it. I never deprive myself of anything so it makes it easier.”
Mr LaPlante, who works in international logistics, now teaches the My Hungry Head programme (www.myhungryhead.com), helping others on their weight loss journey.
He also counsels people who come to him for help in his spare time, saying: “I try to give them their direction on the steps they have to take.”
But he said they have to be serious about making the changes. “I will help anyone but they have to be ready to help themselves.”
Four years ago, Mr LaPlante had a leg infection that almost killed him. This was directly related to his weight and he spent a month in hospital, but it was not enough to make him change his lifestyle.
“You have to find your fire, your drive inside,” he said. “You have to find your will to live. It can be many different things. It can be super hard to find it but it’s completely worth it.”
Since shedding the pounds, he has developed a taste for adventure. He took up mountain climbing and when his friend suggested the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, he jumped on board.
“I have a lease on life that I never had before, ever,” he said. “It’s like a new world. I’m doing things now that I couldn’t do when I was a kid. I’m in better shape now than when I was a kid.
“It’s insurmountable. It’s hard to describe. It’s not ‘I can’t’ anymore, it’s ‘when can we?’.”
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