Aged 10, after having my tonsils removed and spending a week on a diet of ice-cream and lemonade, I developed a sweet tooth that was the beginning of my weight gain.
By the time I was 17, I tipped the scales at 146 kilograms.
Looking back, I was overweight but very strong. I was going to the gym and lifting big weights: I could squat five reps of 220kg.
But as 13-hour days spent running the family business took over my life, gym sessions gave way to gorging sessions. For breakfast, I was eating 20 hash browns, four McMuffins and two large coffees. Lunch was no better, with two Quarter Pounders, two Big Macs, drinks, fries and two sundaes my go-to meal. I’d then binge again for dinner, usually on pizza after having already eaten at my parents.
By the time I was 44, I wore 12XL shirts and weighed a deadly 320kg. I was Australia’s heaviest man. Anxiety attacks, depression and forebodings of a heart attack were all part of my daily life. The tiles in shops would crack under my feet. I was told by a hospital that their obesity clinic couldn’t help me.
I had to make changes.
Enough was enough. I sold the family business, the bane of my existence, and joined a health retreat.
The first target was my diet. I eliminated starchy carbs and sugar. Breakfast became an egg-white omelette with mushroom, onion and tomato, while lunch and dinner were usually salads with lean meat. The results came immediately: I was losing up to 9kg a week.
At the retreat, I set up two chairs 25 metres apart and began walking laps between them. Six months later, I’d dropped 140kg and was light enough to use cardio machines, like the cross-trainer and rower, doing intervals for up to half an hour.
I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I was an entirely different person. Weighing in 218kg lighter – just 102kg! – I feel like a new man.
I’ve never enjoyed being the centre of attention, but I’ve come out of my shell. It’s a bit of a cliché, but if I can do it, anyone can.
I’ve now incorporated CrossFit, boxing, tabata and weights into my training, with the aim of stacking on 20kg of muscle this year. Knowing I can now fit into a plane seat, I plan on travelling for a while. I have a new lease on life and don’t want to waste another minute.
Find experts to help you. It’s great to have a strong work ethic, but you should never underestimate the power of having to answer to someone else.
And keep at it. We’re all human so we make mistakes. When you do, work harder the next day and keep at it for the rest of the week.