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Gary’s story

““I was big – I had been for years though I wasn’t always big. I used to play rugby and was quite into sport but, over the years, I became less active and began piling on the weight. Then things happened that changed my priorities…

On the 1st March 2006 I started to change my life. I had been thinking about it for some time. Though I’m not sure what happened that day to make me start. I suppose it was a number of things really – I was 23 and not very happy with my life in general. I was worried.  I was heading towards 40 and I didn’t want to die and I knew that was inevitable if I didn’t do something about my health. Fortunately, I was offered a job at a place that had a gym in the building that was free for me to use and a swimming pool so I started making changes soon after beginning the job by using the pool. I cut my calories to down to the required average men are recommended to consume a day and swam for 40 minutes twice a day before and after work. The weight dropped off me initially and I lost a stone in a month. I’m fairly obsessive once I start something so it became a mission for me. Then I got a pedometer and I started to walk everywhere instead of driving and getting cabs. I took more care of what I was eating and cut out salt and sugar.

After about 4 months I lost a fair bit of weight and I started to feel a lot better about myself. So I took the next step from swimming to signing up to the gym at work. The trainers at my gym devised me a training routine in which I would lose weight easier. I updated the routine with them every month to ensure it was most effective.

My friends and family were amazing. They supported me throughout. My flat mate even put up with me banning certain foods from the house.

About October/November time I had lost more weight and closer to a healthy weight. That was when I realised I had gained another problem – excess skin. I was hesitant to see the doctor at first, but I eventually plucked up the courage to see him and he was so supportive. In fact, he was so pleased that I was finally losing weight that he referred me to a surgeon to help accelerate the process.

By Christmas, I was lising more weight and the next thing I needed to do was give up smoking. I had been cutting down already and had to stop totally so I could have the surgery. On the 1st February 2007, I went into hospital for a tummy tuck and a Gynecomastia chest reduction. This was most expensive and something the NHS don’t usually pay for. As if my doctor wasn’t supportive enough, he also prescribed me nicotine patches and everything else I needed. Now I could stick to my diet and fitness regime.

The surgery had changed my life forever. So much so, that I had another operation  to remove the 8lb’s of excess skin after losing so much weight. This was as hard to deal with as losing the weight to be honest. There is so little information out there about this type of surgery and so much of it is conflicting. Yet this information is so vital for a lot of people after all the hard work of losing weight. This can affect people’s confidence hugely.

I am now a qualified fitness instructor and training as a Personal Trainer. I have recently begun an Open University course in Sports Nutrition. I hope to be qualified as a PT soon as I am qualified and would like to do this part time as I continue to work and train myself. Eventually, I would like to get some training in counselling and mentoring.

I am also seriously into weight training and fitness generally and have completed about a dozen 10k runs, 2 triathlons, 3 half marathons and being fit is so much part of my life, I find it hard to remember life before this. I’m considerably happier and fulfilled and hope to change my careers once I qualify to help others change the way they live. It’s the vocation I seem to have missed first time round and am glad that I have found it now.

I know my case was quite extreme but I needed to take extreme measures to deal with the problem.  Looking back, I realise that a lot of my problems were down to a lack of control in my life. Now, I have finally grasped that control I longed for and needed to get my life back on track. There is never a day where I lack motivation.

In my old life there were many dark days with depression and relationship problems (how it all began). Being healthier has helped me to move on. I have new friends, better relationships and a positive outlook on life.”

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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