Flexibility and mobility are the keys to a healthy body according to a Rustington man who turned his life around.
Two years ago 63-year-old Paul Carter weighed 26 stone, was battling type two diabetes and struggling to walk 10 minutes to the shops.
Now, through a combination of bariatric surgery and 12 months of hard graft in the gym, he has shed 9.5 stone and transformed his life.
“It’s never too late,” said the retired coach driver.
“I never pictured myself looking like this, this time last year. I don’t mean this in a vain way but when I see old friends they are amazed. They can’t believe the change in me. I’d retired and I was getting ready to sit down and stick my slippers under the chair, but this has given me a new lease of life.”
In March last year Paul joined Rustington’s Freedom Leisure gym and the weight started ‘dropping off’, he said, but he was actually feeling worse than before he started.
Five months into his regime he was lethargic and becoming depressed with his saggy skin. Then he met 77-year-old gymnast Ted Pollard, a martial artist and fitness guru from East Preston who can still drop into the splits at a moment’s notice.
After getting chatting on the cross-trainer, Ted began working with Paul up to three times a week, free of charge, offering a flexibility-based training programme to restore his core strength.
Paul said Ted has taken him under his wing, teaching him to do things he had never dreamed of 12 months ago.
“Paul worked very hard,” said Ted. “Losing weight is one thing, but Paul was very, very weak and unable to do any free movement.
“He even used to walk in a very sluggish way. We concentrated on free movement and flexibility, working on the mat to develop the fundamentals.
“It shows how someone can turn their lives around just like that, within one year. It can be done.”
Paul’s new found mobility means now he can play with his two grandchildren and spend days out with his wife of 40 years, Rhonda, who said he is like a new man.
While the bariatric surgery to shrink his stomach undoubtedly reduced his appetite, his diet has not actually changed too dramatically. Although he avoids sugary and fatty foods, he still fits in three square meals and the occasional snack.
Bariatric surgery can be undone if the recipient continues to overeat, returning the stomach to its former size, so it is important Paul does not rest on his laurels.
From the signs so far, that does not look likely to happen.