- Name: Darren Abbotts (ask him anything on Talk)
- Height: 6’2″ (188cm)
- Job: Security
- Age: 45
- Location: Weston-super-Mare
- Highest weight: 393lbs (177kg)
- Lowest weight: 182lbs (82kg)
Darren, many of us can point to outside influences and less than ideal circumstances as contributing factors to obesity – when thinking about what led you to your highest weight, where does the finger of blame point?
I just made bad food choices over the years and I gained weight. I would have toast and cereal for breakfast with 2 – 3 cups of coffee. Sometimes a fried breakfast at a café. Lunch would be sandwiches with crisps and chocolate and fizzy drinks. My main evening meal was always something we ate as a family and never really unhealthy, but if my children didn’t finish their meals, I would finish what they left. We did have a takeaway, maybe twice a month, as a treat.
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do as a father. Playing football with my sons, going out on day trips, even attending Parents’ Evenings, because I didn’t want my children to be embarrassed. My wife was never ashamed to be married to me, as she loved me whatever my size, but I’m sure she was worried at times.
You lost a lot of weight in a relatively short space of time – how did you do it?
I lost my weight at Slimming World with 100% dedication, hard work and the support of family and friends.
Many of our amazing loser stories begin with a proactive first step, a spontaneous decision to make a change, but for others that first brave step is taken on a path that’s presented to us by another – in your case, the opportunity almost landed on your doorstep, is that right?
It was a chance meeting with a Slimming World Consultant who was looking to open a group on the estate where I lived. I asked her if many blokes went and she said yes. I joined a group the following week at my local football club.
How did you find it? “I told you, it was at my local football club!” Boom Boom! Ahem, but seriously, how did you find it?
My weight loss journey was fantastic. I was surrounded by fantastic people who took to me and helped me as I helped them. There were times where jealously crept in from other members because of the speed of my weight loss. Being accused of cheating wasn’t nice, as I knew I was doing it the right way. My original consultant left and the new lady just didn’t inspire me, so I left the group.
Who helped you the most and who got in the way?
My wife was always behind me 100% and still helps me make the right decisions. The person who got in the way was myself. Sometimes, when I thought I knew everything, I fell flat on my face. When I became too relaxed I fell back into old ways, thinking it was easy to get back on track. Even though I’ve lost all this weight I will always have a problem with food addiction. As long as I make the right choices, I hope to keep the demons away.
What surprised you about losing weight?
How much I enjoyed it. When the weight was coming off, food started to taste better. I enjoyed cooking in the kitchen with my wife.
How has life changed now you’ve lost the weight?
I am still the same person just thinner. My sense of humour and all my characteristics are still the same as when I was at my heaviest. When I’d lost 8st, I was out on a walk with my wife and I told her I was going to try and jog. I ran a mile and from then on it became my passion.
To be able to have ran in the events I have is all down to my weight loss, plus hard work and training. In 2014 I ran the 40 Mile Born to Run Ultra Marathon in Llanelli, The London Marathon, and I also ran 7 marathons in 7 days for 7 charities with a team of 3 other athletes. I’ve ran Trail Races and Fell Races plus numerous Half Marathons. October 2015 was my running highlight, as I completed the Snowdonia Marathon, which has been voted the best and hardest marathon on 2 occasions. As a father I have been able to do the things a father should be able to do. My children enjoy our times together and they were all (and still are) a great support to me. My wife and I are so much closer and we do have more of a social life, which has been great.
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest, what would you say to him?
Listen fella!!! I’ve seen you in skin tight running shorts and you look good. If you try them on now it wont be a good look!!! A better life is there for you.
You’re Prime Minister for the day, what one law do you bring in to help others who are obese? I would ban all the Fast Food adverts on TV and Radio.
What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
- You CAN do it.
- Enjoy the weight loss journey and if you struggle, then don’t worry – it happens to all of us.
- There is no quick fix for weight loss. However long it takes, just stay focused.