For many of us, losing weight is like a modern-day holy grail. Time-strapped lifestyles, pressure from many directions and easy access to (relatively) cheap foods that are high on convenience but low – or even non-existent – when it comes to nutritional value, contribute little to the ideal notion of healthy living.
Few people know this better than Sencio member Shaun Seldon and, having lost six stone in under a year against a backdrop of bereavement, his story is one he hopes will inspire others.
“Weight loss was never easy for me and I’d tried for many years to take control of my diet but would invariably derail when the slightest hurdle or temptation got in the way,” says the 37-year-old technical support analyst from Dunton Green.
“Frankly my lifestyle was far from healthy and, looking back now, I would go so far as to say it was pretty self-destructive.
“My Mum was always concerned about my weight and my health in general and when we lost her on Boxing Day 2018 after a very short, two-month fight following a brain tumour diagnosis it seemed to be the wake-up call I needed,” explains Shaun.
Two months later, in February 2019, he made the decision that he was going to turn his life around for the better. Then weighing-in at 145 kg (22.8 stone) Shaun had, within just 10 months, dropped to 105 kg, losing six stone in the process.
That colossal achievement looks all very well set down in paper but the reality, of course, is that it can require a Herculean effort when it comes to discipline and dedication. For Shaun – and looking back – he believes it was a three-prong attack that put him on course for his impressive results.
“Mental health is absolutely key as far as I’m concerned and unless your head is in the right place you’re unlikely to stay on track. You have to want to do this for you; not because you feel bound by peer pressure or the endless images we seem to be surrounded by these days of the social media-fixated body beautiful” says Shaun.
“Secondly, I had to sort out my diet, ditching loads of processed foods for ‘clean’ eating, increasing my protein intake and seriously changing the role of food in my life from instant gratification to it being essential fuel for energy, focus, performance and all-round better health.”
Addressing the sort of uphill battle Shaun faced when it came to weight loss can also be a lonely one and he’s quick to stress the role of friend and personal trainer James Arnold.
“James started off by easing me back into exercise gradually. We increased my cardio as well as the amount of time and intensity when it came to using weights. As I improved and got stronger, James kept mixing things up to shock the body and, most importantly, to keep me motivated
“I now do on average three sessions a week, so it proves that you don’t have to be in the gym every day to achieve results as long as things like healthy eating and good quality sleep go hand-in-hand with exercise.”
For James Arnold, a member of the Wellness team at Sevenoaks Leisure Centre, it was important to look at every aspect of Shaun’s lifestyle to ensure he was on the correct road to weight loss.
“Shaun had been overweight for many years, he’d gone through a bereavement and had a Hiatus hernia, so we needed to take all of this into consideration,” says James.
“He put in all the work, overcoming many mental and physical obstacles and his commitment and hard work paid off. Training Shaun has been a pleasure and I know he will keep up his new lifestyle. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
In response, Shaun is keen to praise James for the invaluable role he’s played in their partnership.
“His help has proved invaluable on my journey – I just couldn’t have done it without him or without the friendly, supportive environment at Sevenoaks Leisure Centre. Crucially, James has made this whole experience fun.
“Our workouts are never dull. In fact, if people could see and hear us they’d think we’re a couple of lunatics. Beneath that, however, there’s no mistaking James is one extremely tough task master.”
How would Shaun sum-up the past year and what advice has he for others facing what they see as insurmountable barriers to getting started?
“The best thing is when you start to notice the results. That’s mostly in your clothes but it’s also when other people notice and are kind enough to tell you so. That’s when the snowball effect kicks-in and it’s this that really gives me the focus I need to keep going,” says Shaun.
“I’m not one for shouting about what I’ve achieved from the rooftops but what I will say is that if there’s anyone reading this thinking ‘I can’t do it, what’s the point?’, then I hope they might look at my story and think ‘Well, if he can do it, then so can I,’”.
If you need help or advice on weight loss or exercise speak to a member of the Wellness team at your nearest Sencio Community Leisure centre.