On New Year’s Day I did my first ten-mile run, in just under one hour forty minutes. I may not be an Olympic athlete but it’s not bad for a 55 year-old who’s more used to wearing jeans than running tights!
I can cover a mile in just under ten minutes and I’m about to tackle my first official 10k race, with my sights on a half marathon next, and getting my pace nearer 9.5 minutes per mile.
My wife and family are delighted with the changes in me, including my increased confidence and positivity – but no one is more surprised than I am.
I’m no longer obese and I’ve found a whole new way of living. I never thought fitness was for me. I was the fat kid at school who got teased by classmates and shamed by the PE teacher. If we ran cross country too slowly we’d be forced to run it all over again – I quickly learned that walking the course avoided that!
That teacher would be choking on his whistle if he could see me now. I work in London and jog from our flat in Paddington to my office over in Covent Garden twice a week, a four mile journey, and I walk the rest of the time.
And when I head to the family home in Hampshire at weekends my wife tells me I get grumpy if I don’t go out for a walk or a jog!
I have always been overweight and have tried several diets before, but they didn’t address the underlying issues I have with food. I was a stress eater and I’m naturally a bit of a perfectionist, which of course tends to create stress. Food was my release.
Then around 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes – a disease which my father and paternal grandmother also battled in later life.
I joined LighterLife in 2007 and lost a significant amount of weight, but moved out of the UK for work and wasn’t able to attend Management groups, which are designed to help clients keep the weight off. I re-joined when I moved back to the UK in 2011 and lost weight ahead of my daughter’s wedding, but again stopped going after that and the weight crept back on.
Finally, in July 2014, with graduations for both of my daughters on the horizon, together with the impending birth of our first grandchild and our silver wedding anniversary, I had had enough of being a fat dad and had no desire to be a large granddad. I decided to commit to LighterLife and I joined Counsellor Sally Plum’s group in Notting Hill, West London.
What was different this time was my determination to make lasting changes in my life, including continuing to attend group sessions regularly after getting to my goal.
The fitness sort of happened by accident. As the weight came off I found myself increasingly full of energy. When we moved offices from Paddington to Covent Garden over a year ago, I decided that instead of taking the tube to work I’d try out walking. I found it a refreshing experience.
Walking to work became a daily habit. It takes an hour each way and it’s ‘me time’. I love listening to audiobooks as I stroll.
Next came the gym. To be honest, most obese people probably feel daunted by going to the gym. But I found everyone is so focused on their own workout they barely give anyone else a second glance. I enjoyed sessions there twice a week and my personal trainer helped me overcome any fears I had.
Then in August last year, I thought I’d try adding a bit of jogging into my daily walk. It wasn’t long before I could cover the four miles without having to slow down or stop. I was amazed.
I love being fitter and lighter. My family, friends and colleagues have all been supportive, as well as my Counsellor Sally and the other guys in our Monday evening group. And I have so much more energy to play with my young grandson.
I’m looking forward to a much healthier future now as a result of what I have lost, but also what I have learned and continue to learn about myself. ”
Mark Durrant lost 4st on LighterLife Total. Feeling inspired? Join today.
Photo © Steve Walker