A hospital specialist, who has helped hundreds of patients with digestive disorders, moved up to fourth place after a health check-up after the fight against Covid.
Successfully fulfilling his 2021 New Year’s resolution to lose weight, 6ft 1in, 40-year-old Simon Whitok, completely changed his lifestyle and went from 1st 5lb to 15th 4lb Gone.
Simon, who lives in Poole, Dorset, with his university lecturer wife Katie, 49, and their children Isabella, 13, Joseph, 12, Maximus, 10, and Florena, seven, said: “I measured my weight while talking. Used to his advantage.
“If I had to tell them to lose weight, I’d say, ‘Look, I can sympathize.’
“Ever since I’ve lost weight, I’ve been able to tell patients that it’s possible.”
Simon, formerly a size XXXL, now cycles 16 miles a day, trains children’s football and feels like he spends far more quality time with his family.
He said: “The weight came off slowly over 20 years.
“I stopped playing rugby when I was a kid and my food was not very good.”
A Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, he is well aware of the medical effects of obesity, yet pushed his weight problem to the back of his mind.
He added: “I never really thought about it. It’s not something that really bothered me to a great extent.”
That all changed in spring 2020 when he caught Covid.
He added: “I didn’t get very sick, but I noticed I was very tired afterward and, of course, I was overweight.”
Seeing how deteriorating some of the heavy patients in the hospital were, Simon decided in late 2020 to have a colleague examine his heart.
Fortunately, he was healthy, but was weighed for the first time in years as part of the investigation.
It came as a shock to discover that he was heading towards 20th.
“I was surprised,” I have confessed.
Skipping breakfast, drinking coffee during the day and snacking on slices of cake and pre-packaged sandwiches for lunch, he was not eating healthily.
He said: “I used to come from work and just eat. Whatever is in the house I would choose.”
So in January 2021, Simon made a New Year’s resolution to change.
He began by increasing his exercise regimen – walking 10,000 steps a day and cycling eight miles to and from the hospital each day.
“Now we’ve got rid of our other car and I try to walk or cycle wherever I can,” he said.
Instead of surviving on coffee, he started getting up earlier and had oatmeal or toast for breakfast.
For lunch, he started eating salad, which he pre-prepared at home and took to work.
And in the evenings, he would cook a healthy, often fish-based dinner for the family.
They cut out unhealthy snacks, opting for fruit when they felt hungry between meals, instead of having cheese, ham and salami.
But his real motivation to recover was his family.
He added: “It wasn’t so much about my weight. But more about general health and being more active with my kids.”
Now wearing oversized clothes, she is keen to maintain her weight and a healthy lifestyle.
And he admits to really enjoying receiving positive comments about his transformation from colleagues and long-term patients.
“Patients come back to me and are shocked to say, ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight.'” he said.
“Friends and colleagues at the hospital have noticed, too.
“I’ve even recruited some people to have healthier lifestyles.”
He says he can now “run around the football pitch for an hour with the kids.”
“I think I can do a lot more,” he continued.
Professionally, he also feels that getting fit and losing weight has given him a new perspective.
He said: “If patients don’t know me, I won’t tell that I’ve lost weight.
“I’m not sure an overweight person wants to hear how successful I’ve been.
“But I can honestly tell patients that it is now possible to lose weight. And it had immediate consequences in terms of how I felt.
“I feel really different in myself. Psychologically, it’s nice to know that I’ve gotten through this and that I sleep well and have more energy.
“The main message I would give to anyone wanting to lose weight is that, if you’ve never tried it before, it may actually be less difficult than you think.”
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