'I lost four and a half stone but I feel worse - I loved being fat and I miss Greggs'

Gary Parker -Credit:Gary Parker
Gary Parker -Credit:Gary Parker

A dad who shed four and a half stone after joining a weight loss football club says he 'loved being fat' and misses Greggs.

Gary Parker, 47, signed up to the group in July last year after his weight left him with pain in his knees.

The programme, which has more than 8,000 players and 150 clubs across the UK, is aimed at men who have a BMI of 27.5 or higher.

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Scaffolder Gary, from the Swinton area of Salford, tipped the scales at 18 stone when he joined the group and couldn’t play for 10 minutes without becoming tired.

But the dad-of-four watched as the fat quickly dropped off – now weighing in at 13st 5lbs after a four and a half stone weight loss.

But despite now being much fitter, Gary says his lifestyle change has actually made him feel worse as he misses his favourite junk foods.

“At the time, I didn’t think I was that big until I looked back,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

“I think I wanted to get back into football first and foremost, but the main reason I did it was because of my knees. I have a manual job and my knees were hurting. I realised I needed to lose a bit of weight.

“At the start I was losing a lot of weight. When I finally realised I was getting fitter was when I could play for more than 10 minutes without feeling like I could pass out.

“A lot of people ask me how [my weight loss] makes me feel. I actually used to love being fat and I used to love going to Greggs every day and getting loads of food and stuffing my face.

“If anything, I feel worse because I’m not eating as much comfort food. If you go past a Greggs, you have to go in.

“I used to drink six bottles of Lucozade a day, eat Mars Bars, get Greggs every morning and I just stopped it. Anyone who knows me knows I was addicted to custard creams.”

Gary says he used to gorge on takeaways twice a week and scoff multiple chocolate bars a day.

“My weight never got me down in the first place,” he added. “I didn’t really think I was that big but when look back and realise, you think, ‘Christ, I can’t ever let myself get to that again.’”

MAN v FAT Football Bolton sessions takes place every Wednesday from 7pm at Bolton St Catherine's Academy Sports Centre.

According to the group, in the last year, 80 men in the borough have lost a combined weight of more than 250kg.

At the start of every session, players are weighed to monitor their weight loss progress across each week. Six-a-side football games then take place for 30 minutes with extra goal bonuses awarded to teams based on their weight loss.

A team’s combined weight loss and match scores then contribute to its league position within a club.

The programme was created by Andrew Shanahan who wanted to create a special weight loss group specifically for men combined with football.

In addition to football sessions, MAN v FAT players also receive off-the-pitch support including healthy meal recipe ideas and tips on general fitness. Players also get full access to MAN v FAT online gym so they can continue their weight loss journey at home.

More information about the club and how to sign-up can be found by clicking here.