Like so many of us, what he was eating and how much of what he was eating was the furthest thing from Russell’s mind, meaning that over the years his weight crept up and up. Once a keen swimmer, his weight meant that he hadn’t been to a pool for years and he hated shopping in specialist clothes shops. Despite this, his wake-up call was rather more drastic when he was diagnosed with a form of cancer – realising before it was too late that his lifestyle needed to change…
Name: Russell Lawton (ask him anything over on the forum) Age: 39 Height: 175cm (5ft 9) Location: Stoke on Trent Occupation: Builder Highest weight: 332lbs (23st 10lbs / 150kg) Lowest weight: 246lbs (17st 8lbs / 111kg) Weight lost: 86lbs (6st 2lbs / 39kg)
How did you get to the position where you needed to lose weight?
I had a relaxed attitude towards food and alcohol and I never really monitored how many meals and snacks I was consuming. I ate unhealthy food and drank alcohol on a regular basis and it gradually caught up with me. As I got bigger my fitness levels dropped until even the smallest everyday tasks would become an inconvenience due to my size and fitness level.
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
There is too many to list, but some of the ones that stand out are:
• I was unable to shop for clothes in high street stores
• I was unable to use portable toilet cubicles at festivals or on building sites
• I wasn’t able to go on rides at theme parks or fairgrounds with my children
• Uncomfortable seating on flights when travelling abroad
• I always kept myself covered up in warm weather due to confidence issues
• I was embarrassed to take part in my children’s school activities
• I was once a keen swimmer but due to my weight gain, I hadn’t been swimming for years
What made you decide to change?
In 2015 I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a form of cancer. I made the decision that I was going to eat healthier, get fitter and do all the things a father should be able to do with their children – this was a lucky escape and could have been a lot worse.
How did you do it?
I started to alter what I was eating, when I was eating and how much I was eating. I started calorie counting and started reading the labels on foods when shopping. I then set my target weight to hit: this was 18st for the end of August 2016, ready for my family holiday meaning I would need to lose about a stone every 4 weeks (which was my monthly target).
That’s a lot of weight to lose every month. How did you keep motivated to stay on plan?
I made myself a rule that if I lost weight during the week I would relax my diet over the weekend – but if I gained or stayed the same then my diet would continue through the weekend. Using these rules I managed to not only hit my overall target but I didn’t gain once over the time frame I had set.
What did you eat before you lost weight?
I would eat takeaways most nights and would snack on crisps, chocolates and sweets all the time.
What do you eat now?
Home cooked foods: A lot of boiled eggs, rice, chicken, salads, fruit. Basically a balanced diet. I make sure I eat 3 meals a day and I don’t eat after 7pm. I have cut down on white bread, potatoes and pasta.
You’re a MAN v FAT Football player – how has it helped you on your weight loss journey?
It has introduced me to others in the same situation which has given me the confidence to talk about my issues, ask for ideas and to seek advice, Just seeing other people’s achievements has a massive impact. This along with the football league, the on pitch and off pitch scoring system (where you score goals for losing weight as well as physically scoring them on the pitch) and support from other players and the coach made losing weight a lot easier than I thought it would be. I was no longer losing the weight for me and my family, I was now losing it for my team and for my league.
It gives you all the support you need. The way the league works means you are not just doing it for yourself – your team depends on your success. We are all there for the same reason but with a different approach which meaning it doesn’t get boring, It has given me the confidence to join a gym and a lot of the league players play football together outside of the weekly MAN v FAT Football game. And that’s not even mentioning the 100 new friends I have made!
I was lucky that I discovered MAN v FAT Football when I did as I believe that I would not have come as far as I have without joining. But the thing to remember is that you only get out of it what you put in.
What was the most difficult thing about losing weight?
Keeping focused on the job at hand. It is so easy to stray away from your routine, sticking to it takes a lot of willpower and determination.
How did you overcome any difficulties?
By setting weekly and monthly targets and a weight target – this allowed me to keep focused on what I needed to do on a daily basis by breaking it all down.
How has life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I can now shop for clothes in regular stores. I am more confident in myself meaning I take more pride in my appearance and my health. I now attend the gym 4 times a week and have started to go swimming again at my local leisure centre. I feel more motivated and my health and fitness have dramatically improved.
Who supported you the most on your journey and how did they help?
MAN v FAT is the bus that took me on the trip! The league members and coaches have played a massive role in my achievements but without the bus we would never have met. My wife also had a large role to play as she prepares my meals separately to the rest of the family, spending countless hours looking at labels when food shopping.
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest, what would you say to him?
The support is out there. Losing weight is not as daunting as it looks and with the right help, advice and mindset it is easily achievable.
Now that you’ve lost weight, how are you planning on maintaining your weight loss?
Simply put, I will be continuing with my routine.
You’re Prime Minister for the day – what laws would you bring in to help combat the obesity problem?
I would make parents accountable for overweight children and I would introduce something into the school curriculum where children learn about what affects food can have on them and how to monitor their BMI.
What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
1. They are not alone, MAN v FAT is the proof.
2. If you have discipline and determination then it’s not as hard as it first seems.
3. Losing weight doesn’t just have a positive effect on your looks but it also has a positive effect on your life, mindset and health.