Sky-high blood pressure led to Gary’s incredible weight loss
Dad-of-one Gary Marsden, from Batley in West Yorkshire was told his blood pressure was so high that he should be dead. Now, after losing over 19st* – nearly half his body weight – he's the active dad he’s always wanted to be.
“Back in June 2012 a routine medical at work turned my life upside down. The nurse checked my blood pressure and said: “I don’t know how you’re still alive. With a reading that high, I’m sending you to A&E – right now.” Reeling from shock I was put straight on medication and told to attend regular GP appointments.
"My diet was fairly healthy as a youngster. I didn’t start properly overeating until I left school and discovered takeaways and pubs. Rugby and cycling burned off most of the excess calories during my 20s and when I met my wife, Pam, in 1992, I was around 18st. By the time we got married eight years later I weighed 35st.
"The combination of a sedentary lifestyle, plus a love of beer and fast food at weekends helped the weight pile on – while working night shifts probably didn’t help either.
"I loved being a dad, despite there being so many things I couldn’t do that slimmer fathers take for granted – running round with them for example. And once Ben started school, I let Pam attend his parents evenings on her own because I didn’t want anyone to make comments to Ben about having a big dad.
"After my blood pressure scare I attended a weight management clinic where some of the other patients were talking about gastric bypass surgery, something that really didn’t appeal to me. Pam had just joined a local Slimming World group and was impressed with the Food Optimising eating plan. Sitting in a room full of women, talking about weight though? No way, I said.
"Luckily Pam’s Consultant, Lynne, had a solution and told her I could come and see her on my own after everyone had left. Lynne was so supportive that I decided to join too.
I soon understood that it didn’t matter who I was sitting in a room with at all – we were all there to encourage and support each other to lose weight. And I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed our healthy takes on my favourite meals.
"It’s as if something switched on in my head. Suddenly I knew that all I had to do was keep following the eating plan and going along to group – and that’s what I did.
"As I carried on losing weight, I began to feel more energetic and happy. My blood pressure went back to normal and I started doing some light jogging, then tried my friend’s karate class. It was something I’d always fancied but I felt too self-conscious before.
"There’s a steep hill near my house and Ben and I run up it regularly together. It’s fantastic being able to do active things with him after so many years of being on the sidelines.”
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
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