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Find out how Josh Deegan lost over eight stone in a year through MAN v FAT Football

Josh Deegan, from Wythenshawe in Manchester, kick-started a major change in his life by joining his local MAN v FAT Football league, an organisation which is working across the country to help overweight men get fit and healthy. Read Josh's story below...

Friday 11 Jan 2019
Before and after: Find out how joining MAN v FAT Football sessions changed Josh Deegan's outlook

I’ve always been fat. Always.

I wish I was overreacting with that, but I’m really not – I genuinely cannot remember any time in my life before now when I haven’t been overweight.

Throughout my early life and teens, I was always bigger and taller than my friends and I definitely felt it.

MAN v FAT Football
  • Designed for overweight men of any fitness level
  • Lose pounds to win points!
  • Venues and leagues across the UK
  • Join on your own or with friends

At first, it was dismissed as “growth spurts” and “puppy fat”, but while my friends all grew into proportion as they got older, I remained big. At school, I was picked on about my size regularly, and to combat this, when I was just 11-years-old, I was made to join Weight Watchers by my mum.

It was excruciatingly embarrassing, not to mention pretty harrowing for a child that age and for that reason and more, I didn’t stick with it for very long. As I got older (and bigger), I ended up trying other methods to lose weight, such as weekly check-ups with a nurse and taking up running, but they always ended in failure due to my lack of commitment.

The weight then piled on even more which in turn affected my confidence and to cope with that, I ate. It was quite a vicious circle which reached its head in February 2017, where I found myself, at the age of 25, at a point where enough was enough and I knew deep down that I had to do something, otherwise I never would and I’d end up in an early grave.

I remember spending my 25th birthday feeling really low – probably the lowest I’ve ever felt – as I knew that I was now a quarter of the way through my life and I hadn’t really started living it yet. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be in life at this age, and I knew deep down that it was definitely my weight holding me back.

A few months after starting with MAN v FAT, the pounds started to fall off

I knew I had to combat it in some way, and I knew that if I didn’t do it soon, I never would. I hated the way I looked and felt. I hated the fact that I had to wear massive clothes and I hated the fact that I was finding the simplest of physical tasks hard to do.

Then, I found something that has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

One Sunday evening, I saw an advert on Facebook for the MAN v FAT Football Manchester league.

Life has a funny way of sometimes throwing things your way when you need them the most. I’d never heard of MAN v FAT until then. I remember looking at the ad, and it showed lads as big as I was at that time playing football.

I clicked on it to read what it was all about. Are you a man? Yes. Want to lose weight? Hell, yeah. Want to lose weight whilst also playing football in a specially devised league where how you perform off the pitch affects results on it? “That’s actually genius!” I thought.

So I signed up as a solo player. It was a massive step for me, as at the time my confidence was absolutely rock bottom and the idea of meeting new people and playing football with them scared the hell out of me.

But week-by-week, I’ve gone along and slowly but surely, I started to notice the more weight I lost, the fitter I got. It kick-started a real motivation to really change my lifestyle and start eating better and exercising more.

I now religiously walk everywhere, I have weekly sessions with a personal trainer and I play football twice a week. I really, really enjoy it, too, which is something I never thought would happen.

Being among other lads at MAN v FAT Football was a huge game changer. Most diet clubs or weight loss schemes are aimed at women, with very few male members, so to find something specifically for men who all had a common love of football and all had a common desire to lose weight was a brilliant way of overcoming the mental barriers I’d attached to losing weight.

The team aspect helped me a lot too, as each week I would go into it thinking: “I don’t want to let my team down here,” knowing that if I put on weight, I’d be punished with an ‘own goal’ but that if I lost weight, I’d be rewarded with a goal or even a hat-trick if I’d lost weight three weeks in a row.

Knowing that could be the difference between winning and losing a game, when coupled with the on-pitch result, has really spurred me on during this whole process.

For me, knowing that my weight loss contributed towards the team’s goals meant that I never wanted to be the one who let the team down. Everyone in the league encourages each other, whether face-to-face or through the WhatsApp groups, and there is also plenty of banter involved. Everyone in the league has the same aim – to lose weight – and I think that’s why most people who join end up losing weight.

I'm proud to say I've lost over eight stone in the year since I've been involved with MAN v FAT

I have lost over eight stone in just one year, and I think a lot of that is to do with being given targets to achieve across the season, such as getting five and ten per cent of my body weight off. I found myself going into every week seeing the targets getting closer and closer and the sense of achievement when you hit them is overwhelming. Others suddenly start noticing that you’re looking well and that confidence only makes you want to set more targets in order to achieve more.

For anyone in a similar situation to me, I’d say just do it! You’ll be given so much advice, encouragement and motivation and you’ll be made to feel welcome right from the word go. Don’t let your judgement of your footballing ability put you off, either, as you can contribute to the team in other ways through the weight loss side of things. MAN v FAT Football can really change your life, as it has done mine.

Every Monday, when seeing that I’d lost weight over the previous week, that made it worth it. When others started to notice, that made it worth it, and upon seeing my target weight on those scales and finally being healthy and happy for the first time ever in my life…that made it so, so worth it.

Life has changed massively. I’m more confident now, I’m happier, I’m healthier and my outlook on everything is a lot more positive. The dark cloud has been lifted.

Find out more about MAN v FAT and how you can get involved. There are leagues set up across the country and 1000s of other success stories from people like Josh.

By Josh Deegan