Steve Lodge is proof that with the right mindset and motivation a healthy diet and physically active lifestyle is well within reach.
Having lost a staggering 10 stone over the last four years, Steve, from Bournville, is now ready to take on the challenge of the Great Birmingham 10k on Sunday, May 31.
But motivation to lose weight didn't come easily and it wasn't until the 42-year-old collapsed with a suspected heart attack, weighing 25 stone 7lb, and was rushed to hospital by ambulance, hooked up to an ECG machine, that he was forced to re-evaluate his lifestyle.
A bad diet of comfort eating and sugary drinks began in childhood, with Steve growing up as the youngest in the family by six years. His unhealthy eating habits followed him through his teens and into adulthood, reaching his heaviest weight by his mid-thirties.
Steve admits: “I knew I was massively over-weight but it didn't bother me, I was happy and enjoyed life. The habits that I'd got into had developed over 30 years so I knew no different.”
Following his heart scare and being told by his consultant to lose at least six stone, Steve joined a Slimming World Group that wasn't ‘too close to home' to help him cope with the daunting task ahead. Dropping 12.5lb within the first week was all the incentive he needed and within 6 months had lost an amazing 6 stone.
Steve says: “I felt determined, motivated and on a constant high week in week out. That first week made me re-evaluate everything and my mindset shifted almost overnight to what I needed to do.”
With a long way still to go, exercise became the natural next step and after starting with long walks to get his heart rate moving, Steve downloaded a Couch to 5k app. At first running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds left him breathless, uncomfortable and way out of his comfort zone. But within five weeks he was able to run for 20 minutes at a time and had fallen in love with running.
“Now I've lost the weight that I have, it's a very strange sensation! I know how far I have come and how much weight I have lost, but I don't remember the person that I was, I don't remember how big I was. I guess losing weight has given me my life back, the one that I should have had over twenty years ago.” he says.
Steve admits that at times he struggled to cope and some days felt suicidal but discovered the freedom and sense of escapism he gets while out running had a massive effect on his mental health, so much so his doctor ‘prescribed' he should use running as a positive tool to help combat his low moods.
Now four years on from losing those first pounds and a whopping 10 stone total weight loss, Steve's time is filled with his new role as a Slimming World consultant in South Birmingham, where he is passionate about teaching his members how to develop lifelong skills and habits to keep them physically and mentally in tip top shape.
Such is his belief in the mental benefits of running, Steve now runs a Couch to 5k session each week and has even persuaded ten of his members to challenge themselves to the Great Birmingham 10k with him, saying that their sheer commitment and dedication to do this is incredible to witness.
Happy with his current weight, Steve is now concentrating on a balanced, more fulfilling lifestyle and is no longer just the ‘funny, fat one'. Now he's the healthy, active one having so far climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed his first 10k in 1:18:23 and credits training with his slimming group members with helping him push himself harder.
Set to take place on Sunday, May 31, the Great Birmingham 10k will be staged on an exciting new course incorporating the historic heart of Birmingham, its latest developments and world-famous heritage sites, starting near the much-loved Hippodrome theatre in Southside.
To enter the Great Birmingham 10k click here