Dad of five who once struggled to put socks on due to chronic condition can now do the school run again after losing 7st

A father of five who once struggled to put his socks on due to a chronic condition which affected his mobility and made him retire as a police officer can now do the school run again after losing 7st.

At 5ft 8in, 45-year-old Simon Bodill has dropped from 19st 1lb to 12st 1lb after starting the Man v Fat challenge at the beginning of 2022 in a bid to improve his mobility, following his diagnosis with psoriatic arthritis.

An inflammatory disease of the joints, the condition causes Simon pain and weakness in his ligaments and bones and meant he struggled even to meet his children at the gates after school.

Simon is now able to do the school run (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon is now able to do the school run (Collect/PA Real Life)

The diagnosis led to Simon retiring from his 17-year career as a police officer in July 2019, but it also started his weight loss journey – a change which he said has greatly improved both his quality of life and the time he spends with his children.

Simon, who lives in Bristol with his wife, Emma, 46, a nurse, and their children, Austin, 16, Wesley, 12, Niamh, nine, Drew, seven, and Iona, four, said: “My GP advised me that losing weight could help with my mobility problems so I wanted to do everything I could.

“I’ve had a longstanding condition, psoriatic arthritis, which led to me retiring from the police due to ill health and I also suffer from severe pain so anything that could improve my quality of life, I was willing to try.”

Simon struggled with mobility due to a chronic condition (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon struggled with mobility due to a chronic condition (Collect/PA Real Life)

Simon booked a doctor’s appointment for his pain in January 2022 and was advised by his GP to lose weight.

“By the end of last year, I was having problems with putting socks on and I hadn’t done the school run in months,” Simon said.

“So, if losing weight would mean easing the pain and hopefully improving my mobility, then I wanted to give it everything I had.”

Simon was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (Collect/PA Real Life)

Simon was given information on the different weight loss programmes in his area.

“There were some that I thought would probably be mostly women which didn’t really appeal to me, then I saw the Man v Fat programme,” he said.

“I’d seen the Man v Fat advert on TV for the football programme, but I hadn’t heard of the challenge before.”

  • Breakfast – nothing

  • Lunch – two slices of cheese on toast, crisps, a cup of tea and half a packet of biscuits

  • Snack – banana

  • Dinner – big portion of spaghetti Bolognese or chilli with naan bread

  • Snack – two bags of crisps, two KitKats, and a packet of custard creams with a cup of tea

He added: “I’m not really into football but the challenge, which set weekly activity goals, sounded like something I could do.”

Because of his condition, Simon said he was unable to hit the targets of the challenge – so adapted them.

“There would be step goals each day and, because of my mobility, I could only do about a tenth of it, so I’d set my own goal at 11 percent,” he said.

Simon started to struggle putting his socks on (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon started to struggle putting his socks on (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “It worked for me and it was great that I was able to adapt the challenge to suit my needs.

“Because I couldn’t exercise as much, the majority of my weight loss came down to diet, cutting out snacks like biscuits, which I could easily eat a packet of and making up Quorn chilli instead of meat.”

Over the year, Simon spoke to other men taking part in the challenge.”

  • Breakfast – two Weetabix with soya milk

  • Snack – banana or apple

  • Lunch – 10g of cottage cheese on one slice of wholemeal toast

  • Snack – rice cakes

  • Dinner – chilli or spaghetti with Quorn and vegetables

  • Snack – Greek yoghurt with walnuts, banana and a teaspoon of honey

He added: “I think it’s often harder for men to talk about their mental health and, for me, the outlet was emotional eating,” Simon said.

“Joining the programme, we started a WhatsApp group with other men doing the challenge to encourage each other but it also became a space where we could just talk to each other.

“I’m very lucky that I have my wife but some of the men don’t have families and the group is somewhere we can talk about our mental health.”

Simon now weighs 12st 1lb (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon now weighs 12st 1lb (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I think that’s become a big part in getting healthier.”

Sticking to the programme for 11 months, Simon has lost 7st, now weighing a healthy 12st 1lb.

He said: “I’ve lost 35.9 percent of my bodyweight and, while my mobility issues can’t be fixed completely, the weight loss has aided me with certain things, like putting my socks on and doing the school run.”

Simon lost 7st in 11 months (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon lost 7st in 11 months (Collect/PA Real Life)

Simon said his family are proud of his transformation.

“My mum was a bit shocked when she noticed just how much I’d lost and my brother congratulated me,” he said.

“When doing the school run, even parents have commented on how great I’m looking, which is nice.”

Simon says cutting out snacking helped him shed the pounds (Collect/PA Real Life)
Simon says cutting out snacking helped him shed the pounds (Collect/PA Real Life)

Simon’s biggest motivation was his children.

“Being able to do more things with them, like taking them out or even just being there at the school gates waiting for them is big deal when you’re battling a chronic condition,” he said.

“It’s important for me to improve my quality of life for their sake as well as mine. The Man v Fat challenge has completely changed my lifestyle.”