A man lost nearly half his body weight after he was too big to ride nearly every rollercoaster in a theme park.
Martin Hannis, 38, tipped the scales at 23st and could barely squeeze into size XXXXXL clothes thanks to a diet of pizza, kebabs and a bottle of red wine a night.
But he was forced to confront his size when he took niece Lola Thomas, then 6, to a theme park and was too round to go on all but two of the attractions.
He was turfed off some by staff who said “you’re too big to ride”, and struggled to get into the seats on others, or pull the ride barrier over his tummy.
Determined to change, he ditched booze and took up running, and lost a staggering 12st in just a year.
Now 11st 9lbs and wearing a size S-M, he took Lola back to Brean Leisure Park in Somerset this summer, and the pair rode every single ride together.
Single Martin – who also battled anxiety and depression before his weight loss – said he’s the “happiest he’s ever been”.
The stock and bond manager from Gloucester, said: “It felt like a walk of shame with everyone looking at you as you got off the ride – some staff tried to sugar-coat it, but some put it very bluntly.
“I’d noticed my weight creeping up over the years but it wasn’t until the theme park trip last year that I felt really motivated to do something about it.
“I felt so humiliated when I was asked to leave almost every ride in front of everyone.
“Losing the weight was incredibly difficult and it took a lot of commitment, but now I’m a lot healthier and it’s become a way of life for me.
“I never used to get enjoyment out of anything I did, but when I went back to the theme park this summer, I think I had more fun than my niece – and I went on every single ride!
“Losing weight completely changed my life, and I’ll never let myself get that big again.
“Not only am I now so much healthier, but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Martin said his weight crept up for ten years and he used food and alcohol as a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety.
He’d get through a bottle of red wine every evening, followed by unhealthy snacks such as pizza, chocolate and kebabs, consuming 5,000 calories a day.
He said: “I knew my health was getting worse, but when you’re suffering from anxiety, it’s easier to just brush it off and pretend it isn’t happening.
“I used to come home from work in the evening and eat a whole packet of biscuits without a moment’s thought.”
It wasn’t until he took niece Lola to a theme park while on a camping trip in Brean, Somerset last April, and was rejected from eight rides, he took action.
Martin said: “As I became more aware of my body and what it needed, I realised how little attention I’d been paying before.”
He committed to a strict weight-loss regime in July 2019 – initially limiting himself to just 1,000 calories a day, ditching booze, going for regular runs and hitting the gym.
He said his first run “nearly killed him” and he struggled to manage even 60 seconds without stopping.
But he now eats around 2,500 calories a day – half his total 18 months ago – and runs up to 22km at a time.
His hard work paid off when he was able to return to the same theme park in August this year and rode all the rides.
He said: “I fit in every seat on every ride, which was so satisfying after I had to watch my niece ride alone the year before.
“I reckon I enjoyed it more than her this year!
“I had to laugh when she said to me ‘You need to make sure you don’t get fat again so we can always go on the rides’.”
He added: “It was definitely a mental challenge as well as a physical one – but I’m so much happier now, and I’m full of energy.
“Looking back, I realise I never really got enjoyment out of anything I did before – but now I do.
“I feel like a completely different person, and I’m the happiest I’ve been in my whole life.”
TYPICAL DAY BEFORE
BREAKFAST – A large bowl of Coco Pops or Frosties with extra sugar added on top
LUNCH – Cheese sandwiches with 4 pieces of bread, 2 packs of crisps, chocolate bars, or go to get a fast food takeaway such as McDonalds or KFC.
DINNER – Half the week takeaways, half the week huge portions of home-cooked food, such as a whole box of fish fingers paired with mountains of mashed potato.
SNACKS – Biscuits, chocolate bars, cakes, microwave hamburgers
TYPICAL DAY NOW
BREAKFAST – Goes for a fasted run instead of having breakfast
LUNCH – Porridge
DINNER – Chicken or turkey, potatoes and veg
SNACKS – Crumpets, bagels, avocado, fruit, protein bars