A dad, left bed-bound due to his size, has seen an incredible 13st (83kg) weight loss and is now able to enjoy playing football with his children.
At his heaviest Mark Marsden, 31, a professional singer and DJ from Aston, South Yorkshire, weighed 26st 7lb (168kg) after seeing the pounds creep on throughout his 20s.
In 2021, he had to be looked after by his brother after being left "paralysed" from agonising back spasms brought on by his weight, which made it really difficult for him to physically look after his son, Riley, now 11, and daughter, Amelia, now five.
His frame also made it tricky for him to run around on the football pitch with his kids, which he says left him feeling “saddened”.
“It’s horrible to think that at one point a father couldn’t be bothered to play football with his son, but I didn’t have it in me,” he says.
“I was too tired and I didn’t have the mindset that I could be active and have fun.”
The turning point came when he started on a weight loss programme with Slimming World, which kickstarted his transformation and saw him lose half of his body weight.
Marsden said he slipped into eating unhealthy habits during his childhood when he was being looked after by his entertainer dad.
During this time, he said got used to a diet of junk food and takeaways.
“My dad didn’t really cook meals,” he explains. “We looked after ourselves, but it usually wasn’t healthy.
“A lot of times it was takeaway. It might have been a buffet at a kid's party or at a karaoke or something - it was always fast food.”
Marsden says his weight continued to increase when he got older and could eat whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.
Things came to a head in May 2021 when he was left bedridden for three months due to painful back spasms.
“I got nerve damage in my back through the excess weight I was carrying,” he explains. “My muscles went into protection mode and tensed up.
“I couldn’t move. I’ve never been in worse pain in my life.”
For three months, Marsden says he had to be fed in bed by his brother, and his children were brought round to the house to see him.
“I couldn’t really do anything for them,” he says of the time. “It was the worst time of my life.”
Once the spasms eased and he was mobile again, Marsden says he lost three stone simply due to moving around once more.
Having tried various diets in the past, he decided to join Slimming World in November 2021, with the hope of seeing further weight loss by overhauling his lifestyle and following their food plan.
“Within six months I’d lost around seven stone,” he says. "After that, I started exercising which made me feel really good and left me wanting to exercise."
Over a period of around a year, Marsden, slimmed down to around 13st (83kg) and says the weight loss has been transformative.
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Having lost his job as a car painter during his period of paralysis and taking a job in an office, his weight loss has now given him the confidence to pursue his dream of singing and DJing full time.
“I’m actively trying to get to the front of the stage and I buy a new suit every week,” he says of his body transformation. “It’s fantastic.”
The lifestyle change has also had an impact on life with his children.
“The relationship with my kids is now fantastic, and my son has picked up my healthy lifestyle choices,” he says.
"I'll actually book Fridays off and we’ll go to the beach, play football, or go to the gym.
"I’ve never felt or looked better."
Additional reporting SWNS.