After losing almost 300 lbs, Bill Laplante is more motivated than ever to show people that they can change their lives

It’s an all too common story; people decide to lose weight, eat better and focus on their health only to fall back into old routines.

But with radio personality Bill (The Big Man) Laplante, who these days goes by his birth-name, William, that played out resolution meant more than simply staying away from fried food or adding quinoa to his grocery list.

 At his heaviest, 707 lbs, Laplante was tired of seeing the inside of a hospital — the fear of death a serious reality.

And with that, he’s since lost more than 275 lbs.

“A lot of people will walk by me and kind of do a double take and they’re shocked by the visual,” Laplante says. “The transformation is well on its way.”

When I first interviewed Laplante for the Calgary Journal, it was Oct. 31, 2013. He was broadcasting the last episode of Big Bill’s Indie Underground, his Internet radio show, determined to regain his health — but could he do it?

Fast-forward to today. That determination has turned to pride. The ear-to-ear smile he sports as he holds up a pair of 8XL shorts — shorts that used to be a regular part of his wardrobe — is contagious.

Bill Laplante says he has a new lease on life and a dream to help others with his ongoing story of accomplishment. 

Photo by Justin Wilson

While the rapid weight loss has been nothing short of amazing, and Laplante’s positive attitude would never convey it, he is the first to admit that the physical and mental transition from a then 32-year old man who’d experienced congenital heart failure to one now doing 20 kms of cardio at the start of every workout has been a struggle.

“Being away from people brought back a whole bunch of issues for me,” Laplante says, referring to his struggles with depression.

A recognizable figure in Calgary’s independent music scene and a radio host who regularly broadcast from several Calgary bars, Laplante removed himself from the public eye almost entirely — something that he attributes to a number of last year’s recurring mental stresses.

“It almost started feeling normal to not go out and not see anyone. And then I started feeling afraid to go out because being alone was the new normal. I don’t ever want to feel afraid to go out or see people again. It’s not healthy, it’s not me, it’s not right and I can’t live like that.”

Using several pieces of fruit for scale, Bill Laplante lays his old clothes out on the floor to convey just how big he was a year ago. 

Photo by Justin Wilson

Laplante says his ability to accomplish his goals and keep positive is in part to the feedback he’s received from those at his gym and from his personal trainer Omar El-Sayed.

“With Bill, it’s been my job to make sure he understands what he’s doing and why he’s doing it,” El-Sayed says.

“I’ve seen huge changes in the way he carries himself and his confidence and I think the physical changes he’s seeing are really giving him more hope and positivity as a person.”

With his weight loss success, Laplante says he knows he has a long way to go.

He’s begun looking at the possibility of surgery to deal with excess skin, something he admits to being somewhat self-conscious about. But he views this type of surgery as proof of success.

And with that success, Laplante has built new relationships and a sense of camaraderie with those who’ve helped him through his astounding weight loss.

“I know that I’ve had a lot of help from people along this journey,” Laplante says. “I would never say that I did this on my own. I have a lot of people to thank for their support and understanding.”

As Laplante moves forward with his life and his health, he’s set his sights on sharing his story to show people they can change their lives no matter the obstacle.

Recently, his website www.will2change.com went live. As he continues with his progress and his gradual move back into Calgary’s music scene, he has decided to let people in on what he’s been up to in hopes of inspiring others.

“I’m far from the finish line, but I’m going to keep going and I want people to see that they can do it too. They can come with me on the journey and see it for what it really is. I want to show people the positives and the negatives. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows and I think sometimes people need to hear that honest truth.

“Weight can come and go. But it’s your spirit you have to get right. That’s something that I hope people will take away from this. And I really don’t know where this is going to end up, but anything is possible.”

Before successfully losing 275 lbs, Bill (The Big Man) Laplante once weighed 707 lbs.

Photo by Justin WilsonAs for his nickname, what happens when “The Big Man” isn’t so big anymore?

“Well, I have ‘Big Man’ tattooed on my fingers, so I think the name will stick around,” Laplante says.

“It goes beyond weight or size. I have a big personality and that’s not going anywhere. It’s my spirit, my heart and who I am.”

jwilson@cjournal.ca