Amazing Loser Samuel Thorne
This week’s Amazing Loser Samuel has gone from a self-proclaimed hermit to a fully-fledged exercise addict, living life to the full and becoming a valued member of his MAN v FAT Football league. He spent years living with the negative effects of being overweight, but as soon as the weight started coming off he wondered why on earth he didn’t give it a proper shot before…
Name: Samuel Thorne
Height: 5′ 9″ / 180cm
Location: Stoke on Trent
Highest weight: 147.3kg / 23st 3 / 325lbs
Current weight: 88.9kg / 14st 0 / 196lbs
Weight lost: 58.4kg / 9st 2.7 / 128.7lbs
How did you get to the position where you needed to lose weight?
I started putting on weight when I moved away to university. I’ve always struggled with social anxiety and became a bit of a hermit, taking comfort in food.
Eventually, I swapped uni to one closer to home but my habits didn’t change, if anything they got worse. The only exercise I’d get would be walking between classes and with the extra money I had from not living away, and no real hobbies to spend it on, junk food and takeaways became the norm.
Following graduation, I got a job as an accountant which meant spending every day sat at a desk with eating the only interesting thing you can really do. I’d get home from work and go straight to the shop to get snacks for the night.
I’ve since been diagnosed with and have been getting help with depression, which I think explains a lot of the bad habits I got into. I’ve always been a terrible comfort eater so when feeling low reaching for comfort food was my common outlet.
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
You don’t realise when you’re overweight quite how much of a difference it’s making to your day to day life. You don’t think much of getting out of breath walking upstairs, or choosing to stay in the house with your feet up instead of getting out and doing something.
When you’re overweight, everything you do is that bit more difficult and physically tiring. You can end up letting life pass you by, which I was guilty of doing when I should have been in the prime of my life.
I developed varicose veins in one leg from constantly being sat down which would occasionally ‘lock-up’ my leg, and after an MOT with a nurse, I was told I was on the way to a heart attack within ten years.
I’ve no doubt that it was a big driver in my anxiety and depression as well. I love being active and get a real buzz from a run or a game of football, it can really change my outlook when I’m at a low point. But at that point in my life, I wasn’t doing anything remotely active. It’s a vicious cycle that becomes hard to break without a good support network
Why did you decide to change?
I was in denial about my weight and how much it bothered me. I was adamant I was happy as a fat man and that it didn’t stop me doing anything. Looking back now I can’t help but think what a muppet I was.
My mum had been on her own weight loss journey years ago, she’s an inspiration. She kept trying to encourage me to do the same but I was stubborn and wouldn’t be told.
My workplace started having the occasional game of football and I was keen to get involved having not played in years. It was massively frustrating to find that the things I could remember doing were no longer possible due to the weight I was carrying. I’ve always been an average footballer but I love playing, yet after five minutes I was exhausted and praying for the game to end.
Not long after, I happened to be listening to TalkSPORT and someone from MAN v FAT was on talking about the league. Straight away I was on the website and found the Stoke league had been going for about a season and had even been featured in the local paper (the focal point of the story, Dave, is now our coach a good ten seasons later!).
I messaged the league coach and signed up that day, though I was apprehensive. I came up with an excuse not to turn up the first week, letting my anxiety get the better of me. But with encouragement from my fiancée Rox I turned up the following week and couldn’t have been made more welcome.
From day one I wanted to lose weight to contribute to the team off the pitch, knowing I’d struggle on the pitch.
What did you do to lose weight? How were the first few days and weeks?
Initially, it was quite easy. My diet was so poor and my lifestyle so sedentary that just making obvious changes to my food intake alongside playing football on a Friday was enough to see good losses.
I cut out the crap and started trying to run (at first, I would only go in the mornings thinking that would be when it was quietest and no one would see me struggling!). The difficulty comes in breaking the long-term habits and not slipping back into them, particularly once the initial motivation and big losses wear off which will naturally happen. That’s where the support of a good team around you can make all the difference and help to lift you.
One thing I wish I’d done from day one is track. It really helps to show where you are going right or wrong and helps train you to know what is deceptively good or bad for you when making food choices.
Had you tried to lose weight before?
Prior to starting university, I was probably the fittest I had been in a long time, and I was going to the gym and eating a lot better. I got together with Rox towards the end of college and was in a good place in the summer between finishing college and starting uni.
Once I moved away however I stopped with the effort I was putting in. I had no real motivation to carry on with the exercise and quickly the bad food habits came back. My anxiety keeping me stuck in my room at certainly didn’t help. I needed a real reason to stay on track when days were hard and that is exactly what MVF has provided for me.
What did you eat before you lost weight?
Everything you shouldn’t. I was adamant I didn’t like most vegetables and would stick to the same old unhealthy meals and sugary snacks.
A typical day looked like this:
Breakfast – Nothing
Lunch – Ginsters pasty, curly fries, flapjack/chocolate bar
Dinner – Takeaway/meal out/convenience food (nuggets, chips etc.)
Snacks – 6-7 cups of tea, 2 chocolate bars, quite often 3/4 doughnuts from a multi-pack.
I remember in the first year of college we would go to Subway for lunch. I used to take pride in the fact I could eat two foot-long meatball subs and would routinely be encouraged to show off this ‘talent’.
What do you eat now?
MvF has given me the push to try different foods and find healthier alternatives, and it’s really encouraged me to cook different meals I wouldn’t previously have touched. It’s also helped me to finally go vegetarian, which I’d always wanted to do but didn’t think I liked enough non-meat alternatives.
A typical day now looks like this:
Breakfast – Cereal bar
Lunch – Bowl of cereal, apple, orange
Dinner – Red Lentil Dhal, half a pack of microwave rice, mini naan
Snacks – 2-3 cups of tea, 1 cup of fruit/green tea, a bag of Snack a Jacks, 2 litres of water
Why did you join MAN v FAT Football?
I’ve always loved playing football but would never have been fit enough to get involved in other football leagues. The idea of being able to play with lads like me appealed straight away.
Once I researched the local league and had seen the positive response from the players and the impact it had I knew I needed to get involved.
How has MAN v FAT Football helped you lose weight?
It gave me a reason to lose weight. From the day I joined, the team and the league were so welcoming and encouraging you had no reason not to try your best to lose.
When the rest of the team are turning up and losing, particularly guys who may be slimmer than you, you feel compelled to lose weight. The encouragement you then get from players across the league as the weight comes off gives you a massive lift to keep going. You eventually start seeing improvements on the pitch as well and it only motivates you to continue getting fitter.
MvF hasn’t just helped me with my weight, it’s helped with my mental wellbeing as well. I love being a part of the Stoke league. I’ve got to know so many top blokes, too many to mention, and getting involved with the eleven-a-side games and mid-week knockabouts gives me something to look forward to when I’m having particularly bad days.
Being captain of my team, a part of a great elevens team, and organising one of the midweek knockabouts has really helped me get a handle on my social anxiety, which has had the knock-on effect of helping me perform better at work.
Prior to MvF I would quite regularly have ‘ticks’ when my anxiety was particularly bad. I don’t get them anymore and I’m pushing myself to get involved in situations I previously would have shied away from.
MvF really has been a life-changer for me.
Why do you think MAN v FAT Football works?
It provides much-needed structure to help keep you focused and on track. Knowing every week when your weigh-in is allows you to plan your week and any much needed off days accordingly.
MAN v FAT is full of guys who have lost weight both in your own league and across the country. The website/social media gives you access to each other’s stories and tips and can help provide a ton of new ideas when you need to change up your plan or find an interesting new recipe.
What would you say to anyone thinking of joining MAN v FAT Football?
Do it, what have you got to lose other than weight?
I couldn’t say a bad word about pretty much anyone I’ve come across during my years involved with MvF. I’ve been lucky enough to play in three national tournaments and a handful of eleven-a-side games, coming up against guys from leagues all over the country and that still holds true.
You won’t regret becoming a part of this community.
What has been the most difficult thing about losing weight?
Breaking habits and staying motivated. Food can be an addiction and like with any addiction it can be hard to kick the habit. If you’ve had a rough day at work the last thing you want to do is have to cook a meal when you can order a takeaway.
Motivation will naturally rise and dip as situations change day by day. It can be tough to manage and stay on a steady plan.
How have you dealt with these difficulties?
The support of those around you, and your team, can make all the difference when you’re at a low point for motivation/will power. You’ll no doubt have someone that will happily go the gym or go for a run with you to help break you out of the rut.
Exercise is my go-to for resisting food temptations, once you’ve gone out and put in a good gym session or gone on a long run you don’t want to waste the effort by then filling up on rubbish.
I find its also good to look at the successes of those around you and from the wider MvF community. It helps to see that kicking on with this scheme really can make a huge impact to your wellbeing.
How has life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I’ve got my lust for life back. My general day to day has improved from simple things like just walking and getting up easier in the mornings. I no longer have issues with my veins and I’m the fittest I have ever been. My moods are generally much better, and I feel more confident.
I now play football up to four times a week and do at least one 5km run a week (big shout out to Parkrun!). I’ve found new and interesting foods I never thought I would touch and have become more adventurous in general.
I love being active again which means I’m getting out of the house more and just getting more from life. From being at my lowest prior to joining, I can comfortably say I am now in the best place I have probably ever been.
Time for a shout-out! Who has helped you lose weight, and how have they supported you?
Rox first and foremost. She gave me the push to join up and get started when if left to my own devices I probably wouldn’t have. She helps keep me on the straight and narrow if I’m having a particularly rough week and puts up with me being out the house playing football four times a week. She follows the same diet as me so there’s never the temptations in the house to throw me off. I’d never have lost what I have alone. She also doesn’t moan (much) about my newfound addiction for football boots which is the only negative side effect of my time with MvF.
I also have to mention every player past and present from Fatletico (previously Beercelona). We’ve had our ups and downs on the pitch over the seasons, but off the pitch the support and motivation has always been there. There’s no better team to be a part of when it comes to losing weight and the four league titles we’ve won is testament to that. Particular shout outs have to go to Shaun and Inchy. Both have been in the league almost as long as me and they turn up almost every week and lose weight. They’ve both had incredible success and it motivates me to try and keep up with them!
Finally, every single player that turns up week in week out to ensure the Stoke league continues. Without them, I’d never have started to lose weight in the first place. I’ve gotten to know so many lads throughout the league and it really is full of top blokes, I’m proud to be a part of it.
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest, what would you say to him?
Wake up. You’re literally wasting years of your life not doing the things you love and risking permanently damaging your health.
Now that you’ve lost weight, what are your next steps? Do you plan to lose more, or are you planning on maintaining your weight? What are your plans for doing this?
I’m about 8kgs off my maintenance target so first and foremost I want to hit that. Once I’m there I will continue coming to MvF to help maintain it. It’s become such a huge part of my life and I get on with so many of the lads I’d hate to walk away. I hope I can be there to help support other lads in the league with their weight loss, having recently started as a player facilitator for our league.
You’re Prime Minister for the day – what would you do to help combat the current obesity crisis?
Stop prime time advertising for sugary foods/fast food chains/takeaway delivery companies. We need to stop sticking unhealthy options in front of people and start to educate better on the alternatives. There are plenty of recipes for healthy curries or a healthy homemade Chinese, but you have to go looking for them. Whereas you can be certain multiple times a night you’ll see an advert for Dominos or Just Eat.
Obesity is a real issue that is impacting the health of the nation and costing the NHS millions to deal with. Sugar is addictive, we need to start treating it the same as cigarettes and alcohol.
What three things do other fat man need to know about losing weight?
1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Old cliché but it couldn’t be truer for weight loss. You’ll have good weeks and bad. But as long as the trend is going down, you’ll get where you want to go
2. You’ll never fully appreciate the benefit until you’ve done it. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re comfortable as you are, or not particularly unhealthy. But once the stairs start to get easier or a trip out seems less daunting, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier.
3. Don’t feel uncomfortable exercising, regardless of your size. The vast majority of people will be focused on themselves and their own lives, and those that do notice you will have nothing but respect for someone trying to make a positive change.