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This article was published 1/4/2012 (2274 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
At 300 pounds, Winnipegger Cat Hurd would gorge on snacks while glued to her favourite series, X-Weighted, a cable television show that follows people attempting to lose weight.
"I would just sit in front of the TV, eat my snack of junk food saying, 'I could never do that,'" says Hurd, whose weight barely allowed her to walk at the time.
Fast-forward to today and Hurd, a family support worker, has lost more than 100 pounds. She has even run marathons, thanks, she says, to X-Weighted (which airs on Slice), whose Toronto-based experts — including the no-nonsense personal trainer Paul Plakas — inspired her to get moving.
"Watching Paul is so motivating," she says. " He is just so inspirational. There are some people who don't like that kind of trainer, one who pushes. But that's what I needed, that kind of push."
Hurd can't wait to see the show's experts in person on April 14 when they come to Winnipeg for X-Weighted Connect, an interactive weight-loss seminar happening at the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute. The tour has already stopped in Edmonton and Calgary, and ends in Winnipeg.
"They've made a difference in my life. When you're 300 pounds, to be able to walk into a gym and not know anything is very intimidating and very scary," says Hurd, who hopes X-Weighted Connect will give her the extra motivation she needs to lose the 30 pounds or so she gained back over the past year.
"Having that kind of motivation and support behind you really makes a difference in people's lives."
Plakas says he could tell seminar attendees in Edmonton and Calgary were intimidated to try the bootcamp workshop he's offering on the X-Weighted Connect Tour.
He cautions that no one should fear the event, since it's just a demonstration rather than the type of all-out, sweat-producing training session you might see on his TV series.
"I show people what is possible with all the different movement patterns that are out there," says Plakas, who is known for his no-nonsense style and has even brought some of his show subjects to tears.
"I know what a human body is capable of for every level of fitness more so than they know about their own body. These people who have been on the couch for years and years, they don't even know what their body is capable of. So when they experience a bit of burning in their legs, an increased heart rate — with their heart kind of pounding — they sometimes think I'm trying to kill them. They've never felt that experience in their body before in their lifetime.
"You're not going to die from this. It is a little uncomfortable at first. Your body will adapt to it. You will get tolerant of this intensity and push through."
X-Weighted performance coach Steffany Hanlen says even if a person knows how to exercise efficiently and eat a balanced diet, their weight-loss program won't work if they aren't dealing with the issues that are going on with the rest of their life.
"I think what people are starting to see is the weight-loss struggle," says Hanlen, a former Olympic skating coach who will talk about self-esteem in her X-Weighted Connect workshop. "It's more of a psychological and emotional battle on many levels."
She says most people who struggle with obesity don't put themselves first.
Hanlen was moved when a woman waiting in line to talk with her after an Alberta X-Weighted Connect seminar shared her thoughts.
"She said, 'You spoke to every single person in this line,'" recalls Hanlen. "She said, 'I didn't think I was valuable enough for you to take the time to talk to me.' That seemed to be the running theme."
Winnipeg-born family physician and obesity specialist Dr. David Macklin says he enjoyed filming X-Weighted but wishes he could have supported the show's featured guests more.
"Instead, we were giving them advice and watching them struggle," says Macklin. "It made for very interesting stories. Unfortunately it didn't always result in sustained weight loss."
Macklin grew up in River Heights and now has a preventative medicine practice in Toronto, specializing in helping people who are struggling with their weight. At X-Weighted Connect, he hopes to get the message across that weight loss isn't as simple as eating less and moving more.
"That's a really tragic oversimplification of what people are up against in trying to manage their weight," says Macklin, noting that genetics, psychology, lifestyle and brain chemistry are all factors.
He says people struggling to lose weight are up against "genetic vulnerability" and a lifetime of conditioning with those powerful substances of sugar, fat and salt.
Macklin says the medical community, in general, has a lack of understanding about how to help overweight people lose weight.
"Here's another chronic disease that deserves our attention — more support, more training within the medical schools and more support at the clinical level of the primary-care system," says the physician.
Tickets for the tour are $99.95; a package including event ticket, workbook and Paul Plakas boot-camp session goes for $139.90. Tickets are available online at http://www.xweighted.ca/x-weighted-connect-tour-2012.
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