22 Apr Neil’s Story – MAN V FAT Player to MvF Coach
How did you hear about MvF football?
I contacted my doctor to discuss weight loss after I became uncomfortable with my size. He put me in touch with One You, who performed a health check and provided weight loss and dietary advice. MvF was suggested as I played a little football and to help keep focus on the long-term goal of losing weight.
Describe your journey with MvF football?
My weight loss journey with Man v Fat has been incredible. I was nervous my first day walking up to the Bexhill-on-Sea weigh in at 122kgs in summer 2018. Upon arrival, I was warmly welcomed by the other guys (all in the same boat) and of course the MvF coach.
Prior to the first game, I’d been able to bond with my teammates via the team WhatsApp group and absorb information from the Bexhill MvF WhatsApp page.
For me having the want to lose weight combined with not wanting to let my new team mates down. This inspired me to win the seasons top scorer award (weight loss) and I lost over 10% of my initial weight over the 14 weeks.
My team also won the weight loss league which was an amazing experience!
I left the Bexhill league after 2 and a half seasons weighing 101kg (thinking I could go it alone), in a year put on all the weight I’d lost!
I re-joined MvF (Hastings) last summer and was lucky enough to joining a team who like my previous team, fully engaged in the WhatsApp group with continuous support and information sharing (good recipes, healthy alternatives, mental health support also in times when the journey was hard).
We went on to win the weight loss and combined (weight plus football) and I again top scorer at night on my lightest 104kg.
I feel amazing and have also learned how to get through the weight loss ruts and truly appreciate it’s a long but worthwhile journey I continue.
In January 22, I saw the Bexhill league was starting up again and I initially joined as a player. I then became aware there was still a vacancy for a coach, and thought it was an opportunity to inspire others outside of my team to lose weight with my experience as a player.
What support did you receive?
There is a lot of support as a MvF player. As I mentioned, sharing what works and what doesn’t with your teammates, the camaraderie especially when times are tough.
There are also weekly posts on the league WhatsApp group covering exercise techniques, weight loss science and philosophy as well as healthy food alternatives.
The coach’s are always very supportive and offer guidance as required, so you are never on your own or out of ideas if you get stuck in a weight loss rut.
What were your barriers or challenges?
My challenges were to find a system that would allow me to lose weight whilst also enjoying the naughty but nice things like the occasional chocolate bar!
Searching around I found The Hairy Dieter’s (Hairy Bikers) diet books and subscribed to their recommendation of setting a daily limit of 1500 calories a day.
I became more mindful of healthy options, still ate good portion sizes and all the foods I liked (in moderation), as well as increasing my exercise. Going running and visiting the gym wasn’t for me, so I played 6-aside football twice a week and once a fortnight went for a long cycle ride.
Despite this, there were still times the weight just didn’t seem to come off, in truth it was often because I became complacent, or Christmas would somewhat scupper my ability to shed weight.
I had a few low times where I just wanted a week of to binge (sometimes I did), but I managed to get out of it and get my mental health back on track (usually by talking to my teammates who understood).
What were your goals at the start of the programme?
My goal was and is still the same, see how far I can go in each season.
This may sound a little uninspiring, but for me it’s about setting an achievable target. Sure, I could say 90kgs, but that’s a long way off and I’d start beating myself up if I had a month of poor weight loss, or even gain, for me it’s about keeping consistent doesn’t matter if it’s 100g or 2kg loss every week.
What are your goals now?
My goal currently is to break the 100kg barrier (and it has been a barrier for me), then carry on seeing how far I can go
My biggest achievement is finding out (through MvF) that I can now understand how my body works, I am now in total control of my weight and have achieved a better state of mental health.
What has been your biggest achievement?
I became a league coach to inspire other guys to become healthier both physically and mentally. From what I have experienced, a lot of us guys don’t understand dietary requirements, we don’t perhaps have the media drumming into us we have to look like this celebrity or that one, we just get on with life.
Next thing we know, we are overweight and then have limited knowledge on how to change. It’s about inspiring, information sharing, I love seeing my players smiling as they step off the scales proud at what they’ve achieved.
What made you want to become a MvF session coordinator?
My advice to anyone unsure about joining is to have a go. You have nothing to lose expect weight!
People are put off sometimes because they may feel their football skills are not going to be good enough. Perhaps they have not played in years and can’t run as fast as before, some guys are physically unable to run, some guys haven’t played football before!
Ability doesn’t matter! You can win goals for your team through weight loss, you get goals for tracking what you eat, a hat trick for your team every 3 times you lose weight regardless of how the on-pitch game goes.
Even if you’ve never played, it’s about taking part and trying! The biggest applause on any night will be when someone has put in a bit of solid effort perhaps tracking back or pushing to stop the ball going out. Weight loss is the goal, football is the vehicle. Everyone supports everyone else, so get involved and start your journey today by visiting https://www.manvfatfootball.org/.