By Lucy Notarantonio
A former obese man with a ‘dad bod’ looks unrecognisable after ditching alcohol and shedding SIX stone in 12 months.
Darren Jones, 50, would regularly take part in tough physical challenges and marathons across the nation but damaged his ankle in 2015 and was left unable to exercise.
The dad-of-two admits he felt ‘lost’ without exercise and turned to alcohol to ‘numb the physical and mental pain’ of not being able to participate.
At his heaviest he weighed 18 stone but now weighs a healthy 12st 2lb after ditching his unhealthy ways.
Now, two years on, Darren, who is a personal trainer, says he is feeling fitter than ever before thanks to his workouts and wants to break the stigma attached to men and mental health.
Darren from Cwmbran, Wales said: “Every year I would set myself a physical goal and would train extra hard so I can finish quicker than the year before.
“I am a determined person but also my own worst enemy as my obsessive and compulsive attitude prevented me from seeking medical attention when I first rolled my ankle in 2015.
“I continued to work out every day, run up to 50 miles of a weekend or cycle 100 miles, but the following year I entered an Ironman triathlon and collapsed as my ankle couldn’t take it anymore.
“I did a good job at breaking it as the three tendons were ruptured, with one also snapping – doctors advised an operation but there was a risk of minimal movement after.
“I decided o nurse my ankle back to heath on my own, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
“I felt completely lost without exercise and that is when the floodgates opened, and I became depressed.
“I was suffering on the inside when I saw people exercising – I felt like people thought less of me because I could barely even run to the end of my garden.
“I continued to eat 4,000 calories which I would have burned off before and turned to alcohol for comfort, at first it was a glass of red wine but that led to three bottles per night.
“The weight kept piling on, and it started taking its toll on my family too as I used to be the fun dad who would take my children Sophia, seven and Ieuan, 10, swimming and play with them.
“But I became too embarrassed and couldn’t take my top off as I was ashamed of my body.”
After two years, Darren decided he wants to get his life back on track and sought counselling from MIND – a charity that provides advice and support for people with a mental health problem.
He went on to book himself a sky dive and decided to not only lose weight but become lean and muscly enough for his new goal of entering UK Ultimate Physique competition in Milton Keynes.
His comeback has wowed everyone as he took to the stage October 19 and placed 6th.
He adds: “I realised I was going through a mental breakdown and decided I can’t let myself get any worse.
“My wife Sarah, 44, who is an accountant, knew it was a decision I had to make for myself and she supported me every step of the way.
“I first booked the sky dive because I knew you had to be 15 stone and I wanted to feel alive again by stepping out of my comfort zone.
“After the sky dive, I had seven months to get into shape for a physique competition and I did it but I was mindful and listened to my body when it needed to rest.
“I have been through a lot but I have become a better person, I have been on the other side but now that I am back – I want to help people.
“I plan to set up a free boot camp next year for people with mental health problems so they can come and exercise but also talk.”