For Phil Stonell, a 59-year-old General Manager at a manufacturing company in Bexhill-On-Sea, the catalyst for the start of his transformation was a work photo in which he and his colleague were portrayed as Laurel and Hardy. Stonnell, unfortunately, took on the role of the latter, as a portly Oliver Hardy.
That was the final straw and Stonnell, with the first UK 'lockdown' looming, knew it was time for change, using the vacant months as a time of restoration and rejuvenation. Fast forward a year, and Stonnell went on to drop from 21 stone (133kg) to 13 stone (82kg) since February 2020. Here's how.
“I realised that the long hours that I was working, and the time spent travelling to and from my office was not healthy,” Stonnell explains. In this moment, combined with encouragement from his physiotherapist during treatment for a shoulder injury, Stonnell took the first steps towards a healthier life. Those first steps were taken in the form of a “MAN v FAT” football league game and, although the first games were hampered, “suffering injuries, within the first few minutes of each match”, that did not stop Stonnell’s love for the new challenge. He became a founding member of his local league, forming his team the “Porky Blinders” in the process and encouraged others like him to engage with the sport and don the boots in search of a healthier lifestyle.
The arrival of country-wide lockdowns did, inevitably, halt the league and as a result, Stonell turned to cycling to maintain his new healthier habits. “As soon as I was under 19 stone I then started cycling. I now cycle every day, normally 20-25 miles on weekdays and up to 40-50 miles a day at weekends.”
Due its low impact on his replacement knee, Stonell opted for cycling over walking or running. Stonell also hit the swimming pool regularly to maintain and build cardiovascular fitness, whilst also going easy on his knees. However, like the football league, its accessibility has been restricted due to the limitations from new COVID restrictions. Alongside the impairments of COVID, Phil was hit by a car whilst out cycling in November 2020, only adding to the factors piling up against his newfound fitness. Stonell remained unphased — six weeks later he was back, ready to tackle the road again and put in the miles.
All this exercise is not something that stands alone in Stonell's lifestyle changes. Alongside the changes in activity, his diet changed too. “My current diet is fairly varied, I still love fresh fish, which features regularly, I also regularly have meat-free days,” he explains. Stonell swapped meat for black beans, sweet potatoes and lentil-based meals, that when combined with intermittent fasting, allowed him to drop the kilos effectively and change his mindset when it comes to food.
Of course, these changes took time and were not something that came as an overnight fix. A year down the line and an impressive eight-stone lighter, Stonell has seen the advantages of an active lifestyle. “This new positive outlook on life helped me have the confidence to leave the job that I’d stagnated in for the last eight years and to subsequently secure my dream job. I now work from home which affords me the privilege of having the time and flexibility to keep up my exercise and healthy living regime. I feel so much better in myself and all of my feelings of imposter syndrome inadequacy are rapidly becoming distant memories.”
It is therefore not just a change in body, but a change in mind for Stonell. The effects of a complete overhaul in every aspect of his life have given him the desired results, A revived lust for life and a body to go with it. Stonell encourages everyone to reevaluate their fitness and mindset too, saying “I cannot recommend my change in lifestyle enough and I’m often found boring anyone who will listen, with my story.”
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