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10,000 Steps

Terry French has been the MHA for Conception Bay South since October 2003. He’s been the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation since 2009. French is a busy man - always on the run. But being on the run doesn’t necessarily mean physical exercise. French wants to get into shape and he’s willing to do it publicly. You can follow his efforts on Here & Now and here on cbc.ca/nl. Why don’t you join French over the next three months and see if, together, you can embrace a healthier lifestyle? Become a member of Terry’s team.

Why is Terry French getting in shape?

  • French started noticing that little things were creeping up, like his blood pressure and his cholesterol level.

  • French always gets in shape before an election, in order to keep up with the physical nature of campaigning door-to-door. He has already started going to a gym four or five times a week in preparation for the Oct. 11, 2011 provincial election.

  • French’s father, former MHA Bob French, passed away when he was 58. French, 44, has a young family and wants to be around for a long time.

  • French jokes that CBC tormented him, saying, “Here you are promoting physical activity in your department, why don’t you take up the cause?” And so, at the urging of his wife Denise, he has.

French’s challenges:

  • As Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, French often has to eat at events where he doesn’t choose the menu. Often the meal will be a turkey dinner or a hot roast beef dinner served with gravy.

  • Meals at events are usually served late in the evening - 8 p.m. or 8: 30 p.m.- and French finds there’s little opportunity afterwards for physical activity. “Especially me … I walk to the vehicle. I go to the office, sit behind the desk. I might have to walk a couple of floors to a meeting, then I’m back out in the truck [or] home downstairs reading. That’s what I do, read at night. So there’s very little physical activity. Lots of talk, but not much activity.”

Bad habits:

  • French says his eating habits are “absolutely terrible.” French says he likes the worst of food. He likes big steaks, as well as Jigg’s dinner and salt meat.

  • French grew up with a lot of bad habits, home-fried fries and home-baked bread with lots of jam. He drank a lot of soft drinks when he was younger. Now he’s switched to diet soft drinks.

  • He loves snacks at night, especially potato chips. But now potato chips are banned in the house.

Goals:

  • French plans to take 10,000 steps each day, but he has to come up with plan to achieve that goal. The first day he used a pedometer, he discovered he only took 750 steps. French finds that even with his morning workout he only does 7,000-8,000 steps a day.

  • French hopes he can inspire people to start exercising. He says he would normally keep his efforts quiet, but he hopes someone will see him doing what he’s doing, and think, “Well, if he can do it, anyone can.”

  • It’s not about the weight loss, French says. It’s about being more physically active and healthy. His main goal is to get in a little bit better shape.

  • French firmly believes that if he exercises properly, and eats properly, he can handle any impending medical issues on his own.

What French is doing:

  • French makes time by scheduling exercise. He gets up earlier in the morning (6 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m.) to do an hour of exercise.

  • He asks if a healthy choice is available when he’s at a public event. He turns down gravy. And he turns down dessert - even though it’s often very tempting.

  • French now goes to the grocery store with his wife Denise, and they spend more time planning meals to eat at home.

  • French has joined Denise in reading labels on food, something she has always done.

French is getting a lot of support from his family, including his children, who encourage him to exercise and eat properly. “Nothing bad can come out of it - only good,” French’s wife Denise said when told that French thinking about taking up the challenge.

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