A man has revealed how he lost an incredible 18 stone without ditching beer or chocolate after a six month bender forced him to confront the problem.
Neil Scurrah, 40, said he struggled with weight all of his life and has tried various diets to lose the pounds.
But the former accountant would often find himself returning to extreme methods – which weren’t sustainable in the long-term.
Already struggling with his weight in his 30s, Neil then sadly lost his dad in 2013.
Sinking into depression and grief, Neil spiralled onto a six-month bender – during which he would eat and drink whatever he wanted to soothe his emotions.
His depression was at its lowest point by Christmas that year and Neil, from Blackpool, physically struggled to get out of bed in the morning as he weighed 36st 10lb, wore 6XL clothing and had a 58-inch waist.
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Fed up with how his weight was negatively affecting his life Neil decided on Boxing Day that it was time to make a lifestyle change on – and he hasn’t looked back since.
He kickstarted his overhaul by taking part in dry January in 2014 for Cancer Research and then started on his weight loss journey the following month.
He started to eat more healthily and the weight began to drop off, although he still allowed himself a healthier takeaway option twice a week, the occasional chocolate and biscuits to satisfy his sweet tooth and beers at the weekend.
Then, as Neil lost the pounds, he gained the confidence to join a gym and he started working out around three times a week as a hobby – which accelerated his weight loss.
A typical day before would have seen Neil consuming two to three bowls of Frosties for breakfast, followed by four slices of toast with lashings of butter, four scrambled eggs, a full tin of baked beans and a pack of bacon for lunch.
He would then have a Chinese takeaway for dinner which would consist of three starters, and a main course dish accompanied with rice and chips.
But Neil went from consuming up to 10,000 calories a day to between 2,500 to 3,000 calories, with a typical day consisting of protein yoghurt with berries and granola for breakfast, omelette with cheese, ham and vegetables for lunch, and chicken fajitas for dinner.
He also snacks on protein shakes, fruit, popcorn and a protein bar throughout the day and allows himself his favourite treats throughout the week.
Neil lifts weights six times a week, does two spinning sessions a week and makes sure he gets 10,000 steps in a day – and works as a personal trainer.
At 6ft 5in, he is now a svelte 18st 7lb, wears an XL shirt and has lost a remarkable 20-inches from his waist – measuring 38-inches.
He said: “I’ve got to be honest: I hated myself. Or should I say what I’d done to myself.
“My obesity had caused me to suffer on and off with depression from being in my late teens and just before I started my journey my mental health was rock bottom.
“In July 2013, I lost my dad after a short fight with aggressive renal cancer. He passed away thirteen weeks after diagnosis.
“After his passing, I basically went on a six month bender and by Christmas 2013 I was at my lowest.
“I was physically struggling to get out of bed and suffering with depression. On Boxing Day, I decided enough was enough and I needed to make a change.
“I didn’t want to go to extremes when changing my eating habits. Cutting everything out you enjoy makes you miserable, crave food groups and binge so I didn’t.
“I just tried to be a lot more responsible and set myself up a couple of treat nights a week. It was also the first time I tried to move more and do some specific exercise while losing weight.
“It was hard at first because of the pressure my weight put on my joints but it was worth the effort as this gave me a little bit of extra freedom to have some more calorific foods like a takeaway or crisps and chocolate.
“Joining the gym scared the life out of me to be honest. Pre 2014, I’d never set foot in a gym in my life. You always have that feeling that people in there are going to judge you because of your size.
“I kept driving past it for about a week before I built up the coverage to finally go in and join but I knew I really wanted to so eventually bit the bullet and did.
“I was self-conscious so I started going first thing in the morning at six-am as it was really quiet.
“When the weight started to fall off, it felt amazing. Even after a couple of months people were always commentating about how much weight I was losing, how well I was doing and constantly asking how I was doing it and I loved telling them.
“This really spurred me on and kept me motivated and probably led to my career change.
“Initially the biggest benefit was not waking up every morning wondering if I’d be able to get out of bed or not that day.
“I also love to travel and finally being able to fit in a plane seat has allowed me to go see the world a little and I have plans over the next few years to see a lot more.”
Neil’s weight loss has not only boosted his confidence and helped him live the life he’s always wanted to – it led to him changing careers.
In May 2018, he qualified as a personal trainer and left his previous job as a company accountant and set up his own business, Real Loss Boss, to help others on their weight loss and fitness journeys.
Having lost an incredible amount of weight himself, Neil is able to fully understand and appreciate the challenges and triumphs his clients face.
Neil said: “Breaking my food addiction was the hardest thing.
“I always used food as a coping mechanism and was a big emotional eater but regular exercise really helped my mental health and still allowing myself to have some of the foods I really enjoyed as a treat helped me to stop binge eating.
“People I’ve not seen for a few years struggle to recognise me. Everyone has just been in shock really as I’ve always been morbidly obese from being a young child. I think some people still can’t believe I have lost the weight I have.
“Successful weight loss is about a lifestyle change – not a quick fix – so please don’t go to extremes with changes you’re going to make.
“Write yourself a food diary for a week then look at making some simple healthier choices the following week and progress from there.
“Back that up with drinking lots of water and making the effort to just move more in everyday life. Those are the basics.
“Knowing first-hand how obesity affects your life and how hard it is to lose weight I just want to help as many people as I can to take the same mentality and approach to weight loss as I have so they can not only lose weight but maintain that loss.”