Here, 56-year-old Roy George from Manchester explains how he reversed potentially deadly weight gain and lost up to five stone during England's lockdown with smarter dietary decisions, tough workouts and an unfaltering attitude. Having been unable to walk for more than 10 minutes or play a low-key game of football, George lost 40kg in weight and gained an awareness of how to fuel his body, feel confident and train well. In his own words, here's how...
Over the last 10 years of my life, the weight came on slowly. I always thought I knew how to train because I had been a football coach and had exercised with kids, but I had left myself go over the past 10 or 15 years. I was eating junk food at the wrong times and had stopped playing football entirely. Diet was the main contributor and, at my heaviest, I was over 19 stone at 54 years old, from eating fatty foods and having four or five takeaways a week. My body fat was all over the place and I felt awful. Despite this, the turning point — when I knew I needed to make real change — was when I knew I couldn't walk for more than 10 minutes or play football. Arthritis in my leg also meant I couldn't tie my shoelaces and, inevitably, friends made upsetting comments about my weight gain. I needed to make a change and turn my whole life around.
I approached Ultimate Performance and met my trainer, Troy, who promised to strip me down and get me to where I was when I was younger. Troy set me up on a simple diet plan and we trained together three times a week, with 24-hour support through email and week-by-week goal setting. Until that point, I’d always been a man that liked to do cardio over weights — "I don’t want to be a bodybuilder," I used to think — and I had never done weight training my whole life, but my motivation came from seeing that the combination of weight training and a smart diet does work. I wanted to lose weight, be healthy and get to a stage where I wanted to look good in myself and be proud of myself.
I noticed the change quickly. My clothes felt bigger and less restrictive at the one-month mark, which pushed me to keep losing weight. My muscles came through where I didn’t even think I had them and the developing definition on my body has been absolutely fantastic. It’s made a massive difference to me. I didn't even think I could lift my bodyweight, but each week I was progressing up to 160kg, 170kg, 180kg and 190kg, with sights set on a 200kg trap bar deadlift. I just didn’t think it could get me to a stage where I could do that.
I started at 123kg (19.3 stone) in October 2019 and, because of England's lockdown, I finished in July at 83kg. I feel fantastic, I'm smiling far more — in fact, I'm much more comfortable around people — and can walk up to three hours a day without any pain. My friends and family were amazed and my next goal is to take up football once again.
Now, I feel fitter and I'm going for long walks. I can play sports and join in with my sons, which I always wanted to do. My strength has gone up. I feel strong and healthy and have a six-pack. I thought it was impossible. But nothing is impossible with hard work.
I also wanted to see the smile back on my wife's face and that's given me more pleasure than anything. That's the be-all and end-all — to see her happy and smiling again. It’s brought our relationship much closer and now, she says, she doesn't have to tie my shoelaces anymore. I can do it myself.
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