SFIT – Laying the (#SaintsFC) Foundations of Change

This post isn’t about Cyber Security although I do have a lot to say about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ISO 27001 in the coming weeks. Most GDPR LinkedIn posts are about selling tools to help you when you’re compliant and not tell you how to get there so I promise I’ll write a blog on that soon.

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It’s about about the Saints Fans In Training (SFIT) course which is run by the excellent charitable arm of Southampton FC. Before I go on too much about the course it’s probably best to explain how I ended up there.

At the back end of August 2017, I found that my trousers and jeans were getting tight. I’d ashamedly already gone up a waist size in the last 12 months and although I knew the answer was to diet, I’d chosen to do a little more at the gym rather than tackle the problem head on. It was at this point I jumped on the scales and shocked myself. I was one pound off being 17 stone.  You fat bastard….

The answer lay in a lifestyle change and having seen an article in The Daily Echo about PJ Putt, a local man who had lost 6 stone on his way with Slimming World and had started a group himself I decided that I’d join.  My long suffering wife Lisa had joined Slimming World a couple of times over the years but without much long term success, so when I suggested that we both join she was gobsmacked and over-joyed.  It was partly down to lack of support (by me…) that success wasn’t forthcoming.  We joined the group which is run by the brilliant Alice Corby at Fawley at the beginning of September and by week 8 I’d smashed past a stone and half. This post isn’t about Slimming World but I will do one on it and would encourage any fat bloke reading this to give it a go.  It’s not what you think it is, especially if it’s run well like the group run by Alice. More of that to come.

The diet is only one part of the lifestyle change so I changed things at the gym.  Rather than doing 35 minutes of cardio, which has never been a problem for me, I followed Lisa’s gym plan.  This helped as I started to tone muscles I’d long forgotten about.  It hurt.  A lot.

The next stage of my lifestyle plan is where the Southampton FC Foundation had come in. Saints Fans in Training (SFIT) is 12- weeks long and is a collaboration with Southampton City Council’s Public Health Team and Southampton FC. The aim is to support and encourage male supporters, aged 35 to 65, to make significant changes to their lifestyle by helping them to lose weight, become more active and eat a healthier diet. They typically have 45 participants each year.

I had heard about it before and was tempted but after seeing a video on it, i put my name down. I’d been accepted and was asked to meet at St Mary’s on the 26th October for Week 1.

Week 1

I arrived and walked into reception where myself and the other volunteers were met by Marion Gealer, one of our course leaders. She welcomed us with a smile and put everyone at ease. I’m not the biggest there and probably not the smallest however everyone of us had an expanding waist size but also a desire to do something about it. Some looked nervous whilst I was actually looking forward to this; I’d already committed myself to the lifestyle change 8 weeks before and with the weight loss I’d already dropped 2 sizes and was eager to carry on.

We walked around to the Foundation classes and met Paul Hedges, the other course leader.  Both Paul and Marion are instantly likable. Paul ran through broadly what we could expect over the 12 weeks and then facilitated from the group on why we end up being fat. The end result is that we all know why we’re fat as it’s not earth shattering, it doesn’t happen overnight. Paul talks in a humourous, non patronising way but the message is clear; the amount of energy you expel needs to be greater than the energy you take in.

Our bodies take in fat because we’re still cave men but with the big difference that the hunting and gathering these days only extend to ringing Domino’s and getting the pizza delivered.  We’ve not evolved in that area.  God knows what we’d turned out like if the ancient caveman had the ability to ring for a selection of sabre tooth tiger chops with fries.

The other common factor for all the men in the room was that, as we grew older and had more responsible jobs, we spent more time off the tools and behind a desk.  That was very true in my case; I’d long given up playing football and hadn’t coached football for 10 years.  Also, even though I was expelling a lot of energy at my gym sessions, the Friday night bottle of Merlot tasted lovely and so did the second bottle. This summer had been very sociable and, together with my liking for animal fat, (who doesn’t love bacon?), I knew why my trousers were snug.

We were then given our kit, which was the red Southampton FC training T-shirt, red sweater and grey shorts.  It’s a nice touch as it makes you feel part of something which is another reason I wanted to join. Throughout my life I’d been a keen team player; I’d kept extremely fit in the military running a few marathons and a 10-mile average of 60 mins. Every time I walk to the gym I watch the locals play on the 5-aside football pitches and look longingly as they have a kick around. I like being part of a team or as Paul said, ‘Jon’s motivation is men’. I like my choice of words better……. :-/

We were also given a pedometer (which I lost on my first dog walk*) and a Football Fans In Training book which covers the 12 weeks and allows me to log things as they happen.

Next came our measurements and then a quick walk around St Mary’s followed by walking all the way up the steps in the Kingsland. This came to 1000 steps which is a tenth of our expected daily step count. It didn’t take long so doing that 10 times should be a piece of wee wee if you afford yourself the time.

And that was it, just a short burst of activity with the homework of getting our average step count measured over the week before going home.

So….going back to our measurements.  We’ll get measured again in 6 weeks to see our progress and it remains between you and the course leader however I’m publishing mine. It acts as a marker of where I have been and where I’m heading away from. I won’t be back.

Weight 98 Kgs
Waist 113.5 cm
Body Fat 30.4 %
Heart rate 72
Blood pressure 128/74
BMI 31

The waist isn’t your waist as such, they use your belly button as a point of reference.  Lastly, I’d worked out my BMI myself 8 weeks prior and was classed as obsese. Callum, one of the apprentices doing the measuring informed me that I was now on the tip of being classed as overweight rather than obese. Never have I been so happy to have been politely called a fat bastard.

I’ll leave you at this point and in the coming weeks I’ll update you on what we cover on the course, some more information about the brilliant work of the Saints Foundation, and also go into some more detail about Slimming World.

Saints Foundation
SFIT
Daily Echo article on PJ Putt
Slimming World

* found it 3 days later, it had fallen off 130 steps into the dog walk.

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