Monday, 16 January 2012

How to lose weight and motivate people

Mike before
When I first saw the before and after pictures of Mike Jones, I struggled to believe the two men staring back at me were actually the same guy.

Having spoken to him, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that the before pic showed a chubby guy with pretty low confidence. He admits that takeaways were a constant temptation and the work chocolate machine added insult to injury.

To escape his stressful job, Mike found himself playing competitive computer games on Xbox Live, which “would involve a lot of swearing and raising of voices”. He spent a large portion of the weekend in bed and did not welcome any interruptions from his wife.

The worst part, though, was his relationship with his son. He avoided taking his son out and felt people were staring at him when he went out because of his weight. “At restaurants, if I ordered anything even remotely fattening, I felt like people would be looking at me and thinking: ‘The reason you are so fat is because that's what you eat!’”

Mike struck rock bottom when his son started asking him not to go places with him and when, during a men’s retreat, he was told during a high beams activity that two peoples’ weight would be needed to counter his. Then, in 2009, the couple lost their second child, who lived for just four hours.

“All these things led me to see what was going on, to see how life was important, and what my wife meant when she told me that I didn't see how much of an influential role model a father is for his son,” he says.

Mike after
Prescription drugs didn’t work, so he started attending Rosemary Conley classes with his wife. He found it easier than he’d imagined because it helped him get motivated and meant they were spending more time together.

Within two weeks, Mike’s calorie intake had been halved, he’d lost 5.5lbs and his confidence was starting to return. After a month he’d dropped a stone and a full trouser size. He found himself wanting to play less Xbox and exercise more as he felt more and more energised.

Having now lost eight stone, he not only looks like a different person, he feels like a new man too. “From a purely selfish and superficial level, I enjoy picking out new trousers and no longer looking for those with a 46" tag.

“But the most important things are that I am much happier and relaxed person and what it has given my family. We took some photos (my son and myself) on Father’s Day and he was hugging me so tight I had to almost push him away.” A few days later, a framed version of the picture appeared on the wall at his son’s request.

Although this was a decidedly difficult period in Mike’s life, he feels his faith in God paid a “huge part” in his weight loss experience. He also discovered that weight loss and proximity to God went hand in hand for him.

A few times a week he goes for a run during his lunch hour.  “This is the perfect time for me to focus on God and to think about where my life is going,” he says. “The extra energy that I have has allowed me to become a Street Pastor, where we walk from about ten at night until four in the morning; I’m not sure I would have had the energy to do that previously. I am also running Zumba classes at the church I attend as a way outreach, encouraging people to bring their friends along.”

So what advice would he give other people, particularly men, who are struggling with weight issues? “Ultimately, I believe that fad diets don't work and successful weight loss and maintenance boils down to two things,” he says. “Eat better, move more.”

Read the full story in the May-June edition of Sorted men's magazine - now available at WH Smith!

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