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Watch: 23st office worker sheds 8st 10lb after seeing himself in a video
A man left horrified by his size in a friend's video kick-started a health and fitness journey which saw him lose an incredible 8st 10lb.
Having dropped from 23st to 14st 4lb, Richard Griffiths, 40, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, is now on target to lose 10st by his 41st birthday and hopes his experience will help encourage other plus-sized men talk about their weight rather than “suffering in silence.”
Dubbed “the fat kid” at school, Griffiths says he has had a weight problem throughout his life, and constantly had to weather insults about his size which left him suffering from low self-esteem.
“I was born fat — I looked like the Michelin Man," he explains.
“People would call me names and never chose me to be on their teams, which hurt my feelings and when my feelings were hurt, I’d turn to food.
“I remember my sister coming home from school one day and telling me her friend had called me ‘a right fat little tanker.’ I still remember it to this day.”
The turning point came in August 2020 after his best friend asked him to be a godfather to her son.
“I saw an awful video of me at her baby shower," he explains. “When I saw how big I was, I decided there and then I had to lose weight.”
Weighing 23st at just 5ft 6in tall and with a body mass index (BMI) of 51.7, compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9, Griffiths says he was dangerously obese.
Though Griffiths lost 2st at the beginning of 2020, he put the weight back on during the first lockdown, but rejoining Slimming World in September 2020 sparked the start of his incredible weight loss journey.
Realising he was an emotional eater, Griffiths says managing to distance his feelings from food was one of the keys to him losing weight.
“I learned that a feeling is not the same as being hungry and so I stopped comfort eating,” he explains.
“Before, I ate when I was happy, I ate when I was sad and I ate when my feelings were hurt. In fact, I ate for every emotion.
“Plus, I was a secret eater. I’d be at work and announce I was going to the snack machine for a packet of crisps, but I’d actually buy two bars of chocolate as well. Then I’d eat the chocolate downstairs, before going back up to my desk with the crisps.
“And if I ordered McDonalds, I’d go with a list to make it look as if I was ordering for a group of people and not just me.”
He's also overhauled his fitness regime and after treating himself to a bike is now an avid cyclist.
“I’d always wanted a bike, but was not able to ride one when I was at my heaviest," he says.
“Now, I enjoy going out riding my bike and dancing and swimming and all the things I wasn’t able to do before.”
As well as giving him a new lease of life, his weight loss has also had a huge impact on his self-esteem.
"I’m now comfortable in my own skin," he says.
“Before, I couldn’t even look at myself, but I like what I look like now and I’m a lot more confident.”
In November, Griffiths spent £14,000 on a tummy tuck to get rid of the excess skin around his stomach, left behind following his weight loss.
“I could have waited three years to have surgery for it on the NHS, ” he said.
“But I didn’t do all this to still hate how I looked, and I had promised myself a tummy tuck as a reward if I lost the weight, so I went ahead.”
Watch: James Corden on why men are 'embarrassed' to talk their weight
While his weight loss has now slowed down, Griffiths is happy with this, as he has now returned to a normal, rather than a slimming regime.
"I just make sure I always choose the right healthy foods from the menu," he explains.
“Losing weight is not just about what goes into your mouth. It’s also about boundaries and moderation and consequences.
“You can eat what you want, but you know if you eat a ‘sin’ food like gravy or stuffing with your roast dinner then there are consequences.”
Griffiths has been documenting his ups and downs on Instagram, where he now has almost 3,500 followers, and hopes by sharing his own journey he can help encourage other plus-size men to open up about weight issues.
One of only four males in his 50-strong Slimming World group, Griffiths believes men’s refusal to discuss their weight means they are less supported when it comes to losing it.
“Men just don’t talk about weight loss and then they don’t get the support that women get,” he explains.
“They keep it to themselves, which means male issues around weight just aren’t discussed."
While his friends and family are understandably proud of his weight loss, Griffiths says the greatest praise has come from his dad, Kevin. 69.
“He’s not someone who says much about his feelings, but when I sent him a photo of me with my 8.5st weight loss certificate, he just texted back the words, ‘Proud Dad,’ and that meant everything,” he adds.
To follow Richard’s continued weight loss and healthy eating ideas on Instagram go to: @Richard_barnsley_sw
Additional reporting PA Real Life.