WHEN Cloyne man Kevin Lawton was 48 years old, he weighed 31 and a half stone and he couldn’t walk a mile down the road without stopping to lean against a wall to get his breath back.
Something had to give.
Sixteen months later, he had lost a whopping 13 stones, and next month he is running the Dublin City Marathon with his wife, Maura, in aid of Marymount Hospice.
“I remember when the penny dropped, knowing I had to tackle my weight problem,” recalls Kevin. It was the ‘light bulb’ moment when he realised things had to change.
“I was going to a hurling match in Páirc Ui Rinn with my kids, Molly, 15, and Jack, 13, and I got stuck in the turnstile. I remember them looking back at me, not knowing what was holding me up.
“That was on a Saturday and I joined Slimming World in Carrigtwohill the following Wednesday.
“Since that day, with the support and the encouragement of the group; I’ve never looked back,” says Kevin.
He was committed to changing his life for a better one.
“Even though I was the only man that day I joined Slimming World, everyone was in the same boat, there for the same reason, on their weight-loss journey. There was never any judgement or any embarrassment.”
The circle of friends embraced him.
“I was made feel so welcome and made feel at home. When I achieved a weight loss, everyone at Slimming World was genuinely happy for me.”
Now there’s another, happier day he won’t ever forget.
“I reached my target weight, 18 stone, on December 12, 2018,” says Kevin proudly.
It meant he could “sort of” celebrate Christmas but he added: “I was still good. I went to the gym Christmas morning!”
Kevin was enthused by the weight loss regime.
“I really was into it. The first week I joined Slimming World, I lost 10 pounds. I shocked my body into action! Then, every week for 16 months, I steadily lost two pounds, or two and a half pounds.
“I sometimes maintained my same weight from the previous week, and I was very rarely up on the scales. I got a buzz out of every weight loss I achieved.”
So did everyone else.
“The group were really happy for me every week,” says Kevin. Now, after achieving the huge weight loss in just 16 months, a new lease of life is started for Kevin at 50. He isn’t struggling walking anymore. Instead, he’s running!
“Since losing the weight, reaching my target, I’ve ran three half-marathons,” he says.
The Dublin City Marathon on October 27 will be the next step and will be a huge achievement.
“As the weight came off; I began to walk more,” says Kevin. “Starting with the ‘Couch to 5k’ and then building up the distance gradually.”
He had great support from his Slimming World consultant Trish O’Shaughnessy. And, as we all know behind every successful man is a woman!
“I started running with my wife, Maura,” says Kevin. “She got me into it. We built up the miles, training for 18 and 20 miles around the hills of Ballycotton and Cloyne, near where we live.
“Maura was a great support to me, cooking up all the recipes from the Slimming World meal plans every day. I often work long shifts in Stryker in Carrigtowhill, and the last thing you want to face after a 12 hour shift is chopping and peeling ingredients in the kitchen. Maura sorted it all for me. She did 90% of the cooking, and she deserves great credit.”
The meal plan suited Kevin, incorporating his favourite foods and banning none. “If you wanted your pasta or your potatoes; you could have them,” he says. “By swapping bad habits for good ones and making better food choices, you can eat real food and still lose weight.”
Was it a lifetime of bad habits that made Kevin’s weight soar to over 30 stone?
“I was into sport all my life,” he says. “When I packed up playing GAA, I took my eye off the ball and I went out of control eating-wise. My lifestyle wasn’t healthy. I ate too much rubbish, stopping at the shop on the way home from work for fizzy drinks, Pringles and chocolate.
“I sat down in front of the TV and ate all the junk. The weight crept on and I ignored it.”
The cracks began to appear.
“My back, my ankles and my knees were under severe pressure,” says Kevin. “Going to a restaurant or to the cinema, fitting into chairs wasn’t easy. Travelling on a plane, I had to get a seat belt extender. Everything becomes huge when you’re that big.
“When I had to go shopping for clothes, I shopped in Leaders in North Main Street who cater for big men’s sizes. I could never buy anything off the rack or in a chain store. My waist measured 52 inches, which was ridiculous. I’m 6 foot 4 inches and quite broad. I was a big guy.
“I did get fed-up,” says Kevin. “Now, all that is behind me. I think it’s incredible. It’s not that long ago that I couldn’t even walk a mile. I missed out on a lot of things.”
Now he’s making up for lost time looking forward to new experiences and new challenges.
“I’m can’t wait to cross the finish line at the Dublin City Marathon. I’m taking a few days off and we’re spending a couple of days in Dublin. The kids are delighted. At home, we all at the same healthy meals. Now, when I watch TV I snack on grapes or pears.”
Does he crave the sugary snacks anymore?
“Yes, I did at the start,” admits Kevin. “But then, the buzz I got from the scales showing a weight loss replaced any craving I had. Instead I concentrated on eating the ‘speed’ foods on the eating plan.”
He’s changed other habits too.
“I bring my own food to work instead of eating in the canteen. That’s a big change!”
Kevin is delighted with life. And with his ‘body magic’. “That’s my buzz words for exercise!” says Kevin, smiling. “I’m delighted where I am now. I can go into any shop anywhere and buy a shirt or a pair of jeans off the rack. It is a great feeling.”
He would encourage anyone with a weight problem to take that first step and join Slimming World.
“For women and men who want to lose weight, the group is the best way to go,” says Kevin.
“The food plan is realistic and it’s very do-able. And the support and encouragement from all the members is fantastic.”
Slimming World Consultant Trish praised Kevin. “He is a fabulous man, a gentle man, and he is so inspiring.
“He looked forward no matter what and his attitude from the start of his successful weight-loss was brilliant. He helped everyone in every way and even with knock backs, he continued to encourage them going forward. And we had a laugh and some fun too along the way.”
Kevin made lots of new friends, in the group and outside the group. “I remember him telling me that when he started walking, he used to meet a lady running doing her laps. She’d shout out to Kevin, ‘how’s it going?’
“Now Kevin is lapping her!”