Two simple things make Trevor Gillingham realise how far he has come in the last seven months: he can now do up the seat belt in his car and, at last, shop for clothes in a ‘normal’ high street store.
In September of last year, Trevor, 52, who works in railway track maintenance, realised that he was in serious danger of failing his next medical due to breathing difficulties and high blood pressure. He weighed just under 200 kgs (31 stone).
“It was a bit of a shock to find out that my health had suffered so badly from the weight I’d put on,” he says. “Working mainly night shifts, I had let my lifestyle deteriorate to a point where I was living on takeaway meals, too much alcohol and no exercise.”
Friends who used the gym at YMCA East Surrey recommended the facilities to Trevor and he signed up for their ‘Healthy Measures’ course – designed to address people’s wider lifestyle issues, with a focus on exercise, diet and behaviour.
“To begin with, I was too heavy to be allowed on most of the equipment in the gym,” admits Woodhatch resident, Trevor. “I had to start with the hand-bike and the weights. But the staff were helpful and encouraging and I wasn’t made to feel uncomfortable or out of place.”
The friendly atmosphere and sensible tuition inspired him to make a total life-change.
Today, Trevor uses the gym almost every day, for 3 to 4 hours at a time. At his most recent weigh-in this month, he found that he’d lost a staggering 10.5 stone. His previously 68” waist now measures 46”. His blood pressure is normal and his cholesterol levels are significantly reduced.
“Trevor has done amazingly well,” says YMCA East Surrey Gym and Fitness Instructor, Lesley Coller. “He is often waiting for us in the mornings when we open up the gym and is proof that, through grit and sheer willpower, anyone can change their life.”
YMCA Health Promotion Manager, Raymond Dill, adds:
“Research shows that a lack of physical activity increases the risk of developing a range of chronic health conditions, shortens life expectancy and increases the risk of mental health problems, as well as reducing quality of life. We are fortunate at the YMCA to have the facilities which allow participants to pass from the ‘Classroom’ to the course’s customized exercise session and then seamlessly access our inclusive gym and wide-ranging activity classes. We focus on health and fitness combined and teach in a friendly, light-hearted style, making everyone feel welcome.”
“Yes, it has been difficult to get used to smaller portions. I still miss cheese and full-fat milk, but I don’t miss the alcohol at all. And the benefits have made it worth the effort. I can put on my own socks and sit in chairs that have arms. I used to have to buy clothes that were 6/7 XL and now I’m down to a 3 XL.”
“My life feels so different now. I would urge anyone in the same position as I was to look for help with people who really understand.”