Kent chef who struggled to control himself around food loses 15st

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-Credit: (Image: SWNS)

A Kent chef who said he struggled to control himself around food was pushed to lose 15 stone after he wasn't able to get through a work shift.

Simon Parnell, 42, tipped the scales at 35 stone at his heaviest and struggled to squeeze into a size 8XL.

He used to gorge on crisps, pastries and fizzy drinks but decided to make a change when he realised he couldn't get through a work shift without his legs swelling up - often spending the next day in extreme pain.

Simon thought he'd only be able to shed the weight by getting gastric band surgery but after realising there was a two year wait he decided to give it a go naturally.

He joined his friend, Ben Turner, 42, on a walk one morning - and the pair made a pact to meet at 6am each day to walk together.

Simon started fasting and has now switched to healthy home-cooked foods such as chicken and vegetables.

He was amazed when the weight fell off him and is now a slender 19st 11lbs, size 2XL, and "feels a million dollars". He says his daughter, Hatty, 14, is "so so proud" of her dad.

Simon, from St Margaret's, Kent, said: "My weight had got worse and worse. I'd got really big over time and found it hard to do everything, from putting on my socks to going out to work."

"I became completely dedicated to walking. I started walking every day, and was gradually able to walk further and faster. Now I feel something so unimaginable, so happy, so healthy, this is what I've wanted all my life."

"I've dreamed and pictured this and I'm living my best life. I've waited a life time to get where I am, even though I haven't finished. My daughter thought I wouldn't get as far as I have done - she is so so proud of me and has talked about it so many times."

Simon had always struggled with his weight and would eat four slices of toast every morning, binge on unhealthy snacks throughout the day, and go through a few bottles of beer every evening.

His favourite foods were meal deals, sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks. He said: "My car would just be filled with at least half a black sack worth of wrappers each week."

"I'd just end up in a complete hole. At the end of the day, I just couldn't move - my body was in shut down."

Simon's work as a chef required him to stand for long periods of time but he could barely get through a shift without sitting down a lot throughout the day.

He also often ended the day with swollen legs and would be in pain the whole next day. Simon said: "I was worried about my health. I wasn't happy with how I looked and I thought gastric surgery was the only way to lose weight."

"However, when I was told how long the wait for hospital bed space was, I made the decision to start my own weight loss journey."

In January 2023, Simon's friend, Ben, invited him for a morning walk. They met at 6am and walked three kilometres - which left Simon feeling "knackered".

The two men made a pact to meet there every morning for a month to walk together - regardless of the weather or any other factors.

Alongside his daily walks, Simon embarked on a fasting routine - eating one meal each day at 5pm. He said: "It was just a complete mindset shift. It was a struggle at first but I feel I really trained my brain over time."

"Before I started fasting, when I had breakfast each morning, it just set me off and I wanted to eat all the time. I have so much more control now."

Simon followed a fasting routine solidly for three to four months. His one meal a day would include mixed nuts, some form of protein - usually chicken or fish - lentils, a mountain of vegetables or salad, and then some berries and yoghurt for dessert.

He still follows this routine but has been able to incorporate more foods into his diet as he knows he now has the mental strength to stay on track.

For a while, Simon felt too self conscious to go to the gym - but eight months into his weight loss journey, he summoned the courage to give it a try.

A local personal trainer, Dave Pilcher, helped him ease into a gym routine and he now attends regularly.

"As a fat person it's your worst nightmare to go in the gym as you think everyone is watching you and talking but really they are not," Simon said.

"Dave's way of training made me want to come back and do even better than the time before."

"It's amazing how quickly your mind changes from not wanting to go in, being your worse nightmare, to actually you can't wait to get in there and be the most confident person there."

Now, Simon walks an average of 25,000 steps a day. He weighs 19st 1lbs - and he wants to go further - with a goal weight of 15st.

He said: "I still fast and walk now and I also go to the gym. I do aqua aerobics and I try to swim a mile five times a week."

Simon shares his weight loss journey on his TikTok account @weightlossjourneybigsi. Once he reaches his goal weight, Simon wants to challenge himself further - he wants to swim the channel and begin mountain climbing.

He said: "I want to help people who are in a similar position I was in. Sometimes it means more when you hear from someone who used to be big - who understands the struggles and knows how it feels."

"I hope I can inspire other people to see it is possible to lose weight, and to lose it naturally. I walk with a spring in my step and just feel a million dollars. The comments I get from people I know who see me around make me smile from ear to ear."

Simon's diet before

  • Breakfast - At least four slices of toast with butter

  • Lunch - Meal deal sandwiches with crisps, chocolate, and fizzy drinks

  • Dinner - Mixture of meat and carbs (pasta, potatoes, bread, etc) with beer

  • Snacks - Beer, crisps, chocolate bars, sweets, pastries

Simon's diet after

  • Breakfast - Skips

  • Lunch - Skips

  • Dinner - A mountain of vegetables or salad, chicken, beef or fish, and lentils - then berries and yoghurt for dessert

  • Snacks - Mixed nuts, berries

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