A NEWCASTLE West man who lost a staggering 15 stone in just over seven months has said that he feels he has been given a new lease on life.
Darren Checkley, 31, weighed 28 stone, wore 7XL shirts and had a 64-inch waist before July last year, when a chance encounter on a trip to the United States convinced him that he needed to turn his life around if he was to avoid dying young.
Darren, who has a three-year-old daughter, is now reaping the rewards of a fitness and healthy eating regime which has seen him become literally half the man he used to be.
He now has a new job, a new relationship, a new sense of self worth and more energy than ever before to be an active father to his three-year-old daughter, Kayla.
The turning point came in July last year, when he was in the US visiting friends.
“A dear friend of mine took me to one side and just made me realise what I was doing, and that he wanted to see me well and healthy, and not to attend my funeral.
“On the way home we got diverted to another airport and we had to run from one end of JFK to the other, however I couldn’t run or jog, I was that big. I couldn’t breathe, my asthma was so bad and I thought I was about to die.
“I eventually got to the terminal and boarded the plane and for the whole 7 hour journey I thought I was going to die of a massive heart attack”.
Darren said that he first started putting on weight at the age of 15, when he developed a taste for junk food and found himself avoiding sports and other physical activities.
“I was always a devil for eating the wrong foods.. and just one meal was never enough. I used to have two or three things at a time.
“It was a vicious circle I got into, and it caused me to pile on the weight. Over the years I got used to being big and was very comfortable with myself, and kept telling myself that I was big and bubbly and people would love me for who I was, and not this big fat guy I had turned into”.
On returning from the US last year, he started to try and lose weight on his own but developed low blood pressure and was showing symptoms of diabetes.
After researching things online, who got in touch with ‘LighterLife’ and began holding regular meetings in Limerick with a counsellor, Lisa.
Before he knew it, he was walking 26,000 steps a day and was going to the gym five times a week, where he did everything from aerobics and weight training to zumba classes. Coupled with a new diet, he found that the weight started to disappear.
“The best part of losing weight was getting fit and healthy. When I first started going to the gym I used to walk 3km in one hour and 26 minutes, now I am running 5km in 26 minutes flat... I used to wake up choking and not able to breathe due to my weight, now I drift off to sleep and sleep throughout the night and it’s bliss.”
Darren now weighs in at a healthy 12 stone 7lbs, wears 32 inch jeans and medium-sized shirts. However, he said that the best part about his stunning weight loss is the extra time he now gets to spend with Kayla.
“I am now able to do everything with her, including going swimming and going on the slides and playing more with her. Kayla is completely loving her new skinny daddy”.
Before he set out on his diet and fitness programme, Darren’s body mass index (BMI) rating was a dangerous 59.4, but now he clocks in at a healthy 24.5.
He said that having seen a number of ‘LighterLife’ success stories online, he decided to get involved and was able to rely on regular meetings with his counsellor and weigh-ins.
“Lisa would always encourage me on and my first week weigh-in was unreal. I lost a substantial amount in my first week. This was the start of my journey and it could not have started any better. Every week I went to Lisa I would be lighter and lighter.”