A man who lost a huge 13-stone and won a national weight-loss award is now helping local people slim by running a group in Burnham-On-Sea.
Martin Woodsford weighed 27 stone when he was eating up to eight chocolate bars a day plus an unhealthy diet of junk food.
But in a dramatic turnaround, he lost an impressive 13 stone after focusing on his weight loss goals and he was crowned ‘Mr Sleek UK’ by Slimming World.
Martin is now an award-winning consultant for Slimming World and is helping other people to lose weight with groups in Burnham-On-Sea and Bridgwater.
His weight loss journey comes after he suffered years of abuse as a child and had the added challenges of mental and physical health issues, including depression.
Martin was taken into care at the age of 11 and remembers: “Life seemed pointless, and I had nothing to live for – it was pretty grim to be honest. I constantly lived in fear and felt worthless.”
“People have endured much worse than I did, but I truly believe that these bad times were something that I had to go through to make me a stronger person and has enabled me to empathise with others.”
Martin adds that his mental health suffered each year which also had a negative impact on his weight and led to self-abuse.
“I eventually left the school at around 21, and felt incredibly lonely. Sometimes I coped, but many times I didn’t, with no family network to reply on. I felt lost and alone, unloved and as overweight as I had become, I tried to take control by starving myself and developed anorexia and bulimia.”
“It gave me control and enabled me to cope. I was hospitalised after collapsing. I hit rock bottom and could see no way out of surviving. I came to terms with that I’d never be happy.”
Despite counselling and medication, during his 30s, Martin says his weight loss fluctuated with his mental health, leading to his weight rising to 27 stone.
“Then something happened which made my weight spiral out of control. I developed Type 2 diabetes, which worsened each month that I was being prescribed more medication. I had Asthma, a heart condition and could hardly walk. I was a mess and the doctors told me I would die if I did not so something.”
“My ex-partner became pregnant in 2004 with triplets with a horrific pregnancy. There were so many complications – including my son having a grade three brain bleed and brain swelling. It was rewarding because we had our beautiful babies but life wrenching because you couldn’t enjoy all the special things new parents are supposed to enjoy.”
“I was binge eating to cope but nothing, and no amount of chocolate, could fill the void.”
Martin’s relationship later came to an end and he came out as gay in his 40s, saying: “It was an awful time, but liberating at the same time. I felt I would be judged, but I had to do it and be true to myself. All my friends said they knew before I did, but I really didn’t.”
“I had counselling a few years ago and the counsellor really helped me understand that I had suppressed being gay because of the abuse I had suffered earlier in my life and with the need to have that perfect family that everyone dreams about. I first came out to some very close friends and then some work colleagues on a training course where I felt I was in a natural environment. It really wasn’t as bad as I had thought – even though my heart was racing.”
In 2014 he joined Slimming World and he has since lost over 13 stone, dropping from 27 stone to just over 14 stone.
Having reversed his diabetes and health problems, he says: “It’s not only changed my life, but given me a life I never thought possible or knew I wanted. It’s taught me so much as a member about myself to have faith that I can achieve anything I set my heart to.”
“To let go of guilt when I have a weight loss or don’t achieve something as planned. It’s okay to stuff things up sometimes. The pandemic has been a struggle for us all, even Will Smith and many other celebrities have declared on social media how hard they have found controlling their weight. We are all human and make mistakes, all we can do is try our best.”
Now, Martin is helping other local people by running his own Slimming World Groups.
“All anyone wants is to feel appreciated, to feel confident and happy. It’s my mission to help as many people as I possibly can achieve their dreams too,” he said.
Martin organises Covid-safe groups in Bridgwater on Mondays and in Burnham-On-Sea on Tuesday mornings and evenings at the Sea Cadets Hall in Burnham’s Cassis Close. For more information call, text or whatsapp 0734 092 4031.