I used to weigh 18 stone but 5 years ago I reached my weight loss goal losing just over 5 stone in weight.
There were a few reasons why I wanted to lose weight back then. A friend of mine died due to health complications and my Father had just been diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. The combination of the two scared me and it made me realise that I needed to do something about my own health. It had given me the motivation I needed to change.
Throughout my weight loss journey I achieved some incredible goals. I ran for the first time and completed my first ever 5k and then pushed myself to running a 10k. I decided running wasn’t for me but I loved a challenge so I decided to set myself a walking goal to reach 15 million steps. I had chosen 15 million steps because I needed a long term target to keep me going.
My aim was to spend the next 4 years clocking 10,000 steps on my pedometer on a daily basis in order to lose weight, get healthy and maintain it. It was certainly the biggest personal challenge I had ever set myself.
After Day 1 I ached. My face was red, my hair was a mess, my heart rate was up and I could hardly breathe (If you’re reading this Paul/Marion – looking back I was probably about a 15 on the RPE scale haha). I was happy that I had taken my first steps towards my huge challenge but there was a long, long way to go.
I walked at every opportunity just to get 10,000 steps. I started walking up the stairs at work and have a walk at lunch. I would even find myself walking up and down the corridor in my house at night time just to make sure I hit my daily goal. As the days went on it became easier to reach the daily steps goal. I ditched the bus and started walking a 6 mile round trip to work each day and at weekends I would have mini adventures around the city and beyond. I remember one day I randomly walked to the New Forest and got chased by a pony desperate to eat my corned beef sandwich.
All I remember while being chased was that this was brilliant for my step count. 980 days after I started my challenge I tweeted this picture:
It was quite a boring picture but it meant everything to me. I was standing outside the very building where I ended day 1 of my steps challenge. 1 year, 3 months and 26 days ahead of schedule, I had reached 15 million steps.
I was excited, delighted, relieved, proud…I was everything you could ever imagine. I had done it!My average step count per day throughout the whole challenge was 15,306 steps. This averaged out at approximately 7 miles per day. If I walked in a single straight line from my hometown of Southampton, England then my final destination would have been in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thankfully I didn’t do that because I’d probably have drowned in Southampton Water. In total I had walked 6,860 miles which is the equivalent of 262 marathons. Not bad for someone who got out of breath walking up the stairs at work. The only downside was that it was quite expensive having to buy new trainers every few months. I even wore out 4 pedometers before purchasing a Fitbit in the latter stages of my challenge.
I found walking to be quite therapeutic. It allowed me to plan my day before work or relax me after a stressful day. I would listen to podcasts, my favourite music or just people watch as I walked from A to B. It was also doing wonders for my body and the weight was coming off. It was a period in my life that will always stay with me. Along the way I gained confidence, my body size changed drastically and it felt great walking into a clothes shop and buying anything I wanted without any worries about my size or body shape. Physically I looked good and I felt great!
My girlfriend told me that I looked like a different person inside and out. I will never forget those words. It was those words that ended our 6 year relationship. I remember thinking that losing weight was meant to be the end of all my problems. Life was meant to be good now. The reality was that I had reached the lowest I had ever felt in my life.
The trouble with changing your life is that it isn’t just your life that changes. The change also affects the people that you’re closest to as well. People can feel lonely, jealous or feel threatened when the person they once knew inside out changes. People’s interests can also change a lot. We found ourselves cooking completely different meals and we would spend our spare time doing different things.
Looking back I now know losing weight wasn’t the reason why the relationship ended. It made me healthy and I achieved a lot of incredible goals that I never thought was possible. I wouldn’t change that at all. I think we just wanted different things in life. I think the weight loss probably accelerated the inevitable. What I would change is how I go about losing the weight. I would involve the people closest to me more. That doesn’t mean they have to lose weight too, it can be something as simple as open communication and letting them be apart of the journey such as exercising together or planning ideas etc.
Since then my life has changed a lot. I’m newly married and life is great but I’ve had a mixture of frustration and happiness with regards to my fitness. The frustrating part was that I got injured playing football. I was probably playing the best football of my life and all of a sudden my calf muscle literally popped. I was in agony. After a long time out I slowly got back playing again and then I injured my knee. I stopped playing football for 2.5 years in total and I put weight back on. I realise now that it is a lot tougher when you’re older to lose weight and your body is different to what it used to be like. Everything I used to do doesn’t seem to work so I hit a wall and the motivation slowly disappeared.
This is when I noticed a tweet from the Saints Foundation about the SFIT course. The SFIT programme is great because it’s aimed at older people who are facing similar struggles and I feel like we are all learning a lot as a group and the exercise sessions are fun too. I think being part of a group makes it a lot more enjoyable because you push yourself more knowing that everyone else is trying their best too, whether that’s setting yourself individual goals with food/drink or whether it’s exercising with everybody else. It is inspiring to see people push themselves and I have a lot of respect for everyone there. I still have a long way to go but it’s a new start and I can learn from past experiences as well as using what I’ve leant recently. Apart from the SFIT course,
I have started playing 5-a-side football again and hope to continue this without any injuries. I am walking a lot more too and hopefully the encouragement and support from the Saints Foundation and the SFIT lads will allow me to keep marching on.
Thanks for listening to my story.