When Richard Smith was in his late twenties, he could barely climb stairs without pausing.
Labeled as ‘clinically obese’, Richard, from Neath, suffered from daily debilitating headaches and chronic fatigue and had been diagnosed with diabetes due to his unhealthy lifestyle and lack of exercise.
Working full time in a bland office, Richard was desperate to try something different – and desperate to shed his excess weight.
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So Richard tried a diet. And another diet. And another diet. But unfortunately, none worked for him.
He actually found that the harder he tried, the harder it was to stick to his plan and the harder it was to lose weight.
And as he struggled to lose weight, Richard also struggled to manage his anxiety and depression, often struggling with low self-esteem and feeling unworthy, he said.
“In my mid to late twenties, I was clinically obese. I had diabetes, debilitating migraines, anxiety and depression,” Richard said. “I put a lot on my genetics and getting older. I thought [putting on weight] was part of life, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“Outside of work, I just didn’t want to leave the house. I struggled with not being worthy. I didn’t know what to do about it.”
Richard kept trying different diets and eventually something clicked. He heard of the “keto diet“, which ten years ago was not well known. It is a diet high in fat, adequate protein and low in carbohydrates. So Richard completely cut the bread.
This is the magic trick that worked for Richard and he started to notice he was losing weight. Less than a month after changing his diet, Richard had lost two stones and when a friend barely recognized him, he felt motivated to take his health seriously and keep working hard to lose more. weight.
“Foods that I thought were healthy, like granola and fruit, I found out weren’t,” he added. “After keto, my diabetes was reversed and I had no more migraines. I learned how to have a healthy lifestyle and I learned what I ate. In 12 months I lost 107 pounds (more than seven stones) of fat.”
Feeling in better physical and mental health, Richard quit his job and decided to retrain as a nutritionist, with the goal of helping other people lose weight if they wanted to. But he wasn’t done with his own weight loss and body transformation journey.
Interested in bodybuilding, Richard signed up for a local competition in 2019 and told all his friends about it, so he wouldn’t be tempted to back down.
He stuck to his keto diet and put in hours at his local gym and then placed second which inspired him to get even fitter – and he quickly qualified for the championships British men’s physical bodybuilding. He continued to train and watch his diet and was crowned champion in his class at the 2019 championship. “It was a stunning transformation,” he said.
Since the pandemic, Richard, now 38, has not competed but plans to return in the near future.
But for now, his focus is helping others in Neath and beyond to take care of their bodies and minds through an active lifestyle.
He said: “I give presentations, share about nutrition, general health and wellness, and work to re-educate people on basic nutrition – understanding what food does to your body and why. you should think twice about the food you eat.”
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