Football mad Leeds grandad who 'didn't like' what he saw in mirror loses five stone in huge transformation

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A football fanatic grandad has made an amazing transformation after he dropped five stone allowing him to get back to playing the sport he loves.

Mark Fielden from Leeds struggled with weight problems for most of his adult life after retiring from football in his thirties, and weighed 20 stone (127 kilos) at the most.

But with a strong desire to strap his boots back on to play walking football, and to improve his mental and physical health as well as the sudden death of a close friend, the 63-year-old turned to weight loss surgery in Riga, Latvia.

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A strong desire to strap his boots back on to play walking football made 63-year-old turned to weight loss surgery. Picture by Mark FieldenA strong desire to strap his boots back on to play walking football made 63-year-old turned to weight loss surgery. Picture by Mark Fielden
A strong desire to strap his boots back on to play walking football made 63-year-old turned to weight loss surgery. Picture by Mark Fielden | Mark Fielden / Weight Loss Riga

Mark said: “I was always really active in my twenties and thirties and played a lot of football to keep me fit, but the weight started to creep up when I had to stop due to my age.

“I was a big eater and drinker and before I knew it my weight was up to 20 stone and I didn’t recognise myself. 

“I haven’t been able to look at myself in a mirror for 30 years because I don’t like what I see, and I suffered from serious mental health problems as a result of my weight.

“At 18 stones I had a mini gastric bypass in March this year and have lost five and a half stone so far. I can’t believe how much it has changed my life for the better and my only regret is not doing it 30 years ago. 

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Mark weighed 20 stone (127 kilos) at the most. Picture by Mark Fielden / Weight Loss RigaMark weighed 20 stone (127 kilos) at the most. Picture by Mark Fielden / Weight Loss Riga
Mark weighed 20 stone (127 kilos) at the most. Picture by Mark Fielden / Weight Loss Riga | Mark Fielden / Weight Loss Riga

Mark, who works as a sales manager, watched as the numbers on the scale went off over the years due to a combination of a lack of exercise and a diet full of alcohol and unhealthy foods.  

After trying a range of traditional diets which never seemed to have any effect, he turned to the internet for research of weight loss surgery.

His research led him to Weight Loss Riga, a clinic in the Baltic country Latvia, that boasted raving reviews. Upon joining the clinic's Facebook group, he decided to proceed, and has since dropped from a waist size of 48 inches (122 cm) to 34 inches (86 cm) in half a year.

The father-of-four from Morley said: “Before the surgery, I was at rock bottom and I was having a mental health crisis around Christmas last year.

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“I’m chairman of a walking football club but I couldn’t even play the sport I love so much, and I struggled to maintain friendships because I never wanted to go to social events such as birthdays because I simply didn’t have clothes that looked good.

 “I knew I needed to lose weight to improve my quality of life. While I did have some apprehension about having surgery, I was reassured by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from previous patients.

“Now that I’m slimmer, I can’t believe the difference it has made to the amount of energy I have, and my mental health has come on leaps and bounds. 

“I still have the mental block about looking at myself in a mirror, but I’ve seen photos of myself and I’m delighted with how my weight loss journey is going. 

“I don’t need to look like a Greek Adonis, but I want to look like a regular 63-year-old man, and I’m there. I’m confident that soon I’ll finally be able to look in a mirror.”

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