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'I was morbidly obese and even wondered if I'd live to see my children grow up... I knew that I had to change'

Published 21/06/2016

Slimmed down: Stuart Robinson in March this year
Slimmed down: Stuart Robinson in March this year
How Stuart looks today
Helping hand: Stuart’s girlfriend Katie McKenzie’s support was crucial
Happy family: Stuart with his children Holly and Glenwanted
All change: Stuart before his weight loss

Getting beach ready is no longer the preserve of women who snap up glossy magazines and Instagram tips on how to get the ultimate bikini body in time for their summer getaway.

Now, it seems men too are keen to present a more svelte image as the temperatures rise - and none more so than Cool FM DJ Stuart Robinson, who is also Programme Controller at Cool FM and Downtown Radio.

The father-of-two from Belfast roped in his radio show listeners to witness his ambitious bid to shed five stone after tipping the scales at over 19 stone in January. Regulars also tuned into Stuart's live Faceboook streaming where he shared his triumph and struggles along the way.

We caught up with an altogether slimmer Stuart to find how he coped during his six-month slim-down.

Stuart Robinson who is dad to Holly (12) and Glen (8) has lost almost five stone this year. He says:

At my heaviest I was 23 stone and I honestly worried about my future and whether I would be around to see my children grow up.

I have struggled all my adult life with weight problems. It all started about 21 years ago when I was working on the launch of Citybeat radio station with Stephen Nolan. We would be working late nights and long days and we would live off pizzas and fish and chip takeaways.

I had tried at various stages to diet but my problem was sticking at it and keeping the weight off.

I realised it was a mind-set 0and I needed to be in the right frame of mind to take on a challenge like this and to be determined to succeed.

For Christmas, my girlfriend Katie McKenzie (25), who is a nurse, bought me a shirt which was an extra large. Even it wouldn't fit me and she offered to take it back and change it.

There and then I made the decision to get into that shirt and to change me and not the shirt.

So in January, I made a public pledge on Cool FM that I was going to get weighed and go on a weight loss regime with regular weigh-ins and set myself a goal for June.

When I was weighed on air I was over 19 stone. I wanted to get down to 14 stones six pounds, which was the lightest I have ever been in my adult life.

I knew I was morbidly obese. I was eating because I was bored and eating all the wrong things, which impacted my mood and it was affecting all aspects of my life from my ability to do my job, to my ability to be a good, active father. So I pledged to change.

I didn't want to follow any plan or specific programme. I wanted to show myself and listeners that it was mind over matter.

I needed to eat half of what I was eating and double the amount I moved around.

In essence, I talked about it on the radio to shame myself into getting into shape for summer. I had tremendous support and doing my weigh-ins and live video-blogs was a great motivation.

There were people out there who wanted me to succeed and were rooting for me and also those who were hoping I would fail. I wanted to prove the latter wrong.

The first month I lost a stone, but it was very difficult. I can only liken it to going cold turkey. It was like I was addicted to food and I was going through withdrawal. So in January, I had severe migraines and the shakes and felt really unwell.

When I came home from work at night I knew I had two choices. I could either go into the kitchen and give into my cravings for chocolate biscuits or I could just go to bed and try and sleep through it.

So, in the end I went to bed early every night. The first couple of weeks were the most difficult.

That month, however, I lost a stone in weight as all the rubbish I had been eating left my system. I was also helped at the start as Katie was making me healthy homemade meals every night which were low in calories. There would be a healthy dinner waiting for me when I got home from work.

She would make me something like curry and rice or chicken fajitas. I started shopping around for healthy alternatives to everything I was eating, such as the lowest calorie form of mayo or lighter than light Philadelphia cheese. I was trying to get my calorie intake down as low as possible.

I was spurred on as I had lost so much the first month. Then, in February I lost about five pounds per week.

I started to get active as Cool FM was running its sponsored Cash For Kids walks - 5K in a Day, so I took part in that and I was moving a lot more.

I stuck with the challenge and walked for about an hour every day at lunchtime. If I had to go anywhere, I would leave the car behind and walk.

I was walking about 10,000 steps every day and then in the evening I would do an hour on the treadmill with higher intensity walking for about an hour.

In February, I lost about half a stone. One of my goals was to try on the shirt live on Facebook and wear it out for dinner on Valentine's Day. About 10,000 people tuned in to see me put it on and I was delighted as I was able to wear it to the dinner.

In March, I lost another half a stone and was feeling great.

A low point came in May when I was working on the show live from the Balmoral Show.

We were beside a hot food van and they kept bringing me over burgers which, of course, I ate.

I ended up putting on four pounds that week and I was completely disheartened. I was bored with talking about food and thinking about food all the time and I really did feel like giving up.

But then I thought about how far I had come and it was only a blip. I knew I needed to stick at it for the kids.

I had booked a holiday for us all with Katie at the end of the campaign and I was determined to go to Florida, a thinner and happier person.

The last time I was there I was at my heaviest and I wasn't able to go on one of the amusement rides, as I was so big the bar wouldn't close. That was one of the most humiliating times for me.

It made me realise I couldn't go on like this any longer.

So I was determined to take the kids back to Florida and be a happier, healthier version of myself - someone who had much more energy for them.

It was important for me throughout the campaign to make small, short term goals and reward myself when I had done well.

I was determined to get down from the extra large shirt to a large one. I did that at the end of March. Then I booked the holiday which I was very excited about.

I found things that took me out of my routine made sticking to a healthy diet difficult.

I was invited to an awards dinner in London with the whole team at breakfast time, but I found myself sitting in an airport so I wouldn't have a muffin as a treat?

If you're planning to lose weight try to take six months out of your life and stick to it.

Try not to have any holidays or big events during that time. You need to focus and stick to a routine - it was vital to me.

I stopped takeaways and while I would still have the odd slice of pizza, I stuck to my healthy eating plan.

I had an app on my phone which tracked my steps and the graph had doubled over the six month period from my activity last year. If I wanted a snack and was craving something, I would first try and have a tea or a coffee to see if that worked and if I was still hungry I would treat myself to three crackers with some light Philadelphia.

If I was craving chocolate, instead of having a chocolate bar, I would have a bowl of coco pops - which isn't exactly healthy, but it is a better alternative.

At the end of my campaign, more than 30,000 people tuned in and watched me on Facebook reveal my weight and I had lost four stone and 10 pounds.

I was delighted. The support I had from family, friends and listeners was tremendous.

Over the six months we had over one million people watching me on Facebook.

I feel great now and so happy to have reached my target goal. I will probably try to lose the final few pounds to take it to a round five stone in my own time but the official campaign is over now.

I am going on holidays tomorrow and the kids and I are so excited.

Imagine what it will be like for me being in Florida without carrying all that extra weight? It hasn't always been easy but for me it has all been about a mind-set.

There is no point in taking something like this on if you mind is not in the right place."

Stuart's top weight loss tips

1. Get into the right mind-set. Psychologically understand that losing weight is about 15% exercise, 15% food and 70% mind-set and determination

2. Set goals and targets throughout the journey

3. Make sure you get plenty of support from family and friends

4. One size doesn't fit all with regards to success. You need to question why you are doing this and be determined at all times

5. Be prepared and organised - don't plan any holidays or big nights out during the period you have set aside

6. Be ready for it to be draining and boring at times

7. Get your eating right and exercise plenty

8. Plan a holiday for the end of the weight-loss period

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