Paul Smart lived on a diet of takeaways and fizzy drinks, now he has shed six stone. Catherine Scott reports.
A Leeds dad has lost six stone after ditching a 10,000 a day diet after his weight ballooned to 21 stone and he was warned he was risking his health.
Paul, now 40 and living in Leeds, a lived on take aways and fizzy pop after his divorce having McDonalds for breakfast and KFC for lunch.
“It was down to laziness and being on my own after my divorce. I had no one to help rein my eating in and I became best friends with all the takeaway drivers,” recalls Paul.
“As my weight increased I became more reclusive as I didn’t want people to see the fat mess I had become, which then made me eat even more.
“I lost most of my friends as I would constantly let them down at the last minute as I would start to get nervous before I was due to go out.”
After turning 37, Paul realised he had hit ‘rock bottom’ when it came to his health.
“The doctor weighed me, and the numbers scared me. I was 21 stone, classed as morbidly obese and had a body fat percentage of 41 per cent.
“If that wasn’t enough to scare me, the next thing he said was: ‘you are on the verge of giving yourself type 2 diabetes if you carry on living the way you do’.” Naturally concerned by what he was hearing, Paul decided enough was enough and it was time to cut out the bad habits he had become accustomed to.
“After looking online for dieting advice, I read an article that said anyone starting a diet should write a food journal for a week before they start their diet, so that you could see exactly what you were eating and use it as a start point.”
At the end of that week, Paul was shocked by the amount of food he was eating.
“My week’s food journal scared me so much. On average, I was eating over 10,000 calories a day. The highest amount was just short of 20,000 in a day.” The recommended intake for man is 2,500 calories a day. For the next couple of months, I tried every diet out there. I was blending everything because that is what I saw online getting great results. You name a diet, I tried it – none of them worked. I became even more unhappy because I hadn’t lost any weight.”
After moving to Leeds from Harrogate, Paul decided to join the Xercise4Less gym to continue his quest to get in shape.
“I had been used to spending £36 per month to use a gym in Harrogate. Now I was in a gym spending less than half that and getting so much more for money. I had seen an advert for a transformation camp, a group focusing on helping you transform your body. This was exactly what I was looking for – expert advice on nutrition and exercise.”
The progress he was making in the gym also had a knock-on effect at home too which led to the former telecommunications worker changing career.
“My children were also enjoying my new positive outlook on life and fitness. They came with me on my fitness journey and they were the ones that first told me that I should become a personal trainer.”
Paul then went one step further and became a GP exercise referral specialist, to help manage his fiancée’s rheumatoid arthritis.
“I now needed to make the career change permanent and an advert for my dream job came out the day before my 40th birthday.
“ It was for a General Manager position at the Castleford branch of Xercise4Less.
“I started my job in February this year and the rest is history. I love my job and the one thing that will always happen in my gym is that there will always be someone to help and guide any new members so that they do not feel as lonely and scared as I did the first time I stepped foot into a gym.
“Gyms can be scary and intimidating places but at Xercise4Less everyone is welcome, and everyone is equal and that is how it will always be. I now teach weekly spin classes in the gym and any chance I get I jump into the transformation camp classes.”
After completely transforming his life, Paul now weighs a healthy 15.5 stone, losing eight inches off his waistline in the process.
But Paul, who is engaged to Christine, says he isn’t done yet.
“I want to run a marathon. I am also doing an obstacle race in July and my fiancée,she will be wife by the time it happens, will be doing it with me along with friends and family.”
BEFORE: Breakfast: Pepsi Max, chocolate bars, sausage and egg McMuffin meal, bacon and egg McMuffin (doubles)
Lunch: Zinger Tower box meal and two wraps
Snacks: chocolate, chewy sweets, ice cream, crisps
AFTER: Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and protein shake
Lunch: chicken salad & fruit
Dinner: chicken or steak with veg or rice & fruit
Snacks: protein bars, fruit, green tea and lots of water