It’s all well and good for us to tell you why you should join MAN v FAT Football and what it’s like, but what do the players themselves think of it? We asked Andy Gallon to provide a warts and all view of the experience.
As I stood in a sports hall, surrounded by some of the more rotund gentlemen of the Solihull district I asked myself should I turn around and head to the closest chippy? Little did I know that moment was a junction in my life as I set off on a rollercoaster 14 weeks of fun, football and most importantly losing (only off the pitch).
Standing on the special scales, as they sent who knows what through my body to work out how fat I really was, I got the stark reality of what I already knew. I was obese, and not just a little, but morbidly. Speaking to the other players stood around the room though gave me a sense of comradery and joint motivation I’d never had entering a diet before. Like so many men, dieting was done quietly on my own, safe in the knowledge that I would only be letting myself down if I had that last doughnut.
As I got to know my new team, and created a new WhatsApp group to keep track of our trials and tribulations over the first few weeks it quickly became apparent that this was different, this was a journey that would be undertaken as part of a group, and to add some further motivation it was all linked to my favourite past time, Football! While most men will make a joke when told they’re heading to an early grave, if you tell them they’ll be letting their team down if they don’t lose weight – well, now that’s a whole different ball game.
The first few weeks were tough on the pitch, as years of abuse meant my body kicked back and told me it shouldn’t be running at 20 stone. As difficult as I found it on the pitch, off the pitch I was finding it progressively easy as I started looking at what I could do to keep my motivation to lose those pounds and keep my losing streak going. That’s when the realisation happened that there were 9 other people who were having the same internal dialogue and had either found the answer or were still looking. That’s when the scheme comes into its own, be it bowel movements or hydration levels, the group had all the answers. Sharing recipes to lower calories became a daily occurrence as did photos of people’s dinner.
Reaching the half way point, with every member of our team having lost significant weight our attention turned to the league table, sat second in the league with the title in our control focused us all on what could be done to take the trophy. Our team had all kinds of different people, each with a different drive to succeed off the pitch, but with the shared goal we could take advice of others from different walks of life, different experiences but all with the same fight, the fight against fat.
Nothing illustrates why it works so well as the Friday round robin “are you on track?” conversation. Those ahead of the game giving support to those with a little work left to do. Anybody suggesting the normally weekly Friday takeaway were duly chastised and directed to a healthy, low calorie alternative. Everybody knowing that even the smallest of weekly gain could result in losing the game, or even the league title. It became a habit. Losing weight is actually addictive once you start and we all quickly moved from the question of how do you lose weight, to how much weight can you lose?
The last few weeks of the league were a procession, with all the team at least a stone lighter, and some in excess of three stones down. As a result of the dropped weight our performances on the pitch also improved and players were being dragged off the pitch as they didn’t want to stop, rather than because they could no longer walk! As some of the players reached what would be seen as a healthy weight, others had a firm plan of how to get to their goal.
Men don’t want to go to normal weight loss clubs, we don’t want the excuses that come along with gains. What MAN v FAT Football gives you is empowerment, access to the answers you need and the motivation to succeed. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the first league and it enabled me to keep my diet going, surpassing my lowest weight in 15 years and continuing to the healthiest I’ve felt since I was a teenager. The more important part of it is making the changes in the right way, changes for life, which gives me the confidence that the once yo-yo diets of the past are gone forever and that MAN v FAT Football has delivered a new ME.