A lorry driver who ballooned to 29 stone after eating 10,000 calories a day has lost nearly half his body weight in a year after joining a special fat-busting football league.
Now Vlad Tudose is sharing his weight loss tips after shedding 14 stone in a year and gaining the confidence to date.
Before Tudose, 33, moved from his native Romania to the UK in 2010 to study Law and International Studies at the University of Coventry, he was a “fit and active” sportsman, who split his time between football and rugby pitches and weighed a limber 11st 3lb.
He had his first wake up call in 2012 when he was horrified by a picture of himself on holiday in London.
But by that time he wore 48in waists and XXXXXL tops and began a negative spiral of trying and failing on multiple weight loss diets.
All that changed in June last year when he saw an advert for the MAN V FAT football team.
In just a year he has lost half his body weight and is now a trim size medium.
“I moved to the UK with my girlfriend and my best friend, but after seven years we had to break up," he says.
“I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was in a very negative space, just letting myself go. In all honesty, I had a lack of confidence and care.
“And I found it really hard to be single, but I feel amazing now for the first time in years. I am proud of my achievement, but the most important thing is that I’m happy. I experience high levels of happiness every day, which I never did before when I was nearly 30st.”
Tudose threw himself into the football league - which was launched in 2015 exclusively for overweight men who want to lose weight - as he realised it was his best chance to lead a healthy life.
He started following a healthy diet, consisting of salads and grilled meats – slashing his calorie intake from 10,000 to 2,100 – 400 less than the daily maintenance diet for men of 2,500 calories recommended by the NHS.
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He also booked every Tuesday off work for the year, so that he could play football with his MAN v FAT teammates.
The matches, which run every Tuesday, start with a weigh in and for each team member who has lost some weight, 0.5 goals are added to the final score.
Despite his incredible results so far he is aiming for a goal weight of 11st 9lb.
He says: “It was and continues to be a massive commitment in my life, but I knew this was something I had to do.
“I promised myself I would never be 30 stone again. I was upset with myself and I needed to make a permanent change.
“The next day, I threw away all the unhealthy food from my house. I started having two or three meals a day, things like grilled fish and vegetables.”
“Being with a group of people who were all so supportive in the football team was incredible.
“I was at breaking point so often, when I felt the need to binge, but I’d start thinking about the team and wouldn’t want to let them down.”
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While Tudose was passionate about sport growing up, when he moved to Coventry he began to binge eat takeaways and binge watch TV shows right through the weekends.
He became a regular at his local chip shop and often chomped on multiple burgers, fried chicken and bottles of fizzy pop in one sitting – taking him to 21st 8lb with a BMI of 41.3, making him obese, by the end of 2012.
It was around that time that his girlfriend of seven years decided to break off the relationship.
Vlad said: “I’d order takeaways three times in the day. I’d turn off the phone and put on six movies in a row, or watch a couple of series.
“I couldn’t even look at myself. I didn’t even have a mirror, so I didn’t really know how bad I looked.”
“But my girlfriend didn’t leave me because of my weight, she left because of how I had become and how little I cared about myself.
“That was a really low point for me.”
When Tudose was at his heaviest, tipping the scales at 29st, with a BMI of 55.5, he could no longer climb a flight of stairs standing up.
He recalls once having to crawl down the stairs from his apartment following an issue with his knees in 2012, as he was “too heavy” for the paramedics to carry.
Shocked and embarrassed about the state he was in, he said: “It was really heartbreaking. It felt like I was living in a nightmare every single day.”
He tried several diet plans between 2012 and 2020, but nothing seemed to work and he would immediately revert to his binge-eating patterns.
He says: “I kept putting the weight back on and then some. ”
Stumbling upon an advert for MAN v FAT last summer changed his life.
He now walks for an hour each morning and enjoys shopping for clothes now he is a size medium and no longer needs to scour the internet for plus sized garments to disguise his shape.
He said: “It’s been a massive change to my life. Even my family think I’m completely unrecognisable. And it’s so easy now. It’s just my lifestyle. This is how I live.
“Even just waking up, I have energy and I’m active. My mental health is great and my colleagues all tell me I’m like a different person.
“I’ve been on so many diets before and made so many mistakes, but they were actually positive moments because they brought me here.
“I would recommend doing this to anyone.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life