In high school, my perception was that I was huge at 240lbs and a 44 inch waist.

By the time I got to grade 11, friends of mine started encouraging me to use the weight room at school, and to become part of the school’s Rugby team. It took some prodding but I finally took the step into the weight room. As I was told, “No one is going to laugh at you. They will look at you, pat you on the back and encourage you.” I certainly enjoyed myself. The important thing for me at the time was trying something different.

At this point in my life, while the pressure was not off me to get fit, I was in a position where I could make my own choices and really think objectively, rather than having the choice made for me.

Rugby was another challenge. What was I doing in a competitive environment? I was going to get ridiculed, laughed at, etc… you name it. My fears certainly kicked in. For the most part the opposite was true and the advice above held true. Face it, when I wasn’t giving 110%, I heard it. Not because they thought I was an idiot but so I could better myself and push myself to be the best. I did my best and I had a blast.

By the time I got to university I felt good. I was working at a campground and cycling back and forth from work. During the year I used the weight room and pool, although I did not have a set routine.

During my second year at Carleton University, I found a local Rugby club, The Ottawa Scottish RFC, and for third year I played university Rugby in the UK.

My extended family was positive about me getting active. My Aunt and Uncle supported my choices and helped by driving me to practices, picked me up from games, and sometimes watched – something I really appreciated. They were truly there for me. I was finally in the space I needed to make my own choices and was receiving the right encouragement I had been searching for, for years. I was well on my way to finally enjoying sport.

My immediate family, while encouraged that I was trying to get fit, where not as supportive. While they helped to get equipment for me, when it came to really taking an active role in my own personal development, they were hands off. For example, I had invited my mother and sister to watch a Rugby match, thinking they would be proud to watch their son and brother in a Rugby match. I soon learned they were not interested and stayed in the car until I asked my coach to drag them out. How is that for encouragement? How embarrassing! What a slap to the face! At least Dad would have loved to watch had he been closer.

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