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How job loss caused Tom to shed the lockdown load

Social media is awash with complaints from people who have gained weight during lockdown. A King’s College London and Ipsos MORI survey of 2,254 people revealed that 48% of respondents had put on weight since March.

The same percentage reported feeling more anxious or depressed than usual, and 29% said they had drunk more alcohol. 

And it’s hardly surprising. The general feeling of pandemic despair has been intensified by the closure of gyms and the lure of the takeaway and off licence.

Tom Redmond (28) could easily have become one of those statistics. Shortly after lockdown he lost his job at Manchester Airport. He was euphoric to find another working for Jet2, but soon discovered he wasn’t entitled to furlough payments.

“I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and very worried about the future. I was constantly on PlayStation, hammering the takeaways and two pints a night was increasing to three and four and then whisky. I was on a slippery slope.”

His weight hit an all-time high of 17st 11lbs (he’s 6ft tall) and that added to his misery. So when a friend suggested they go out for a run, being a competitive type, he agreed.

“It wasn’t pretty. I couldn’t believe how unfit I’d become,” he said. “After a five-minute jog I was gasping for breath and had to walk. It took almost 8 minutes to complete 1km, that’s just over half a mile. That was when I decided to take control.”

‘Obviously no-one wants to be overweight, but I just never did anything about it. It didn’t help that at school we only had one session or two of PE a week’

“I’d been overweight as a child, but it never bothered me that much, I could laugh it off. Obviously no-one wants to be overweight, but I just never did anything about it. It didn’t help that at school we only had one session or two of PE a week.”

But lockdown provided the perfect environment for Tom to concentrate solely on himself, to plan his meals and his exercise and to work out how many calories he could eat a day in order to lose weight.

He’s now three stones lighter and is well on his way to becoming a qualified personal trainer and nutritionist.

He also summoned up the courage to post his before and after pics on Facebook (in his undies!) and received support and encouragement from far and wide.

“I worked out that if I do a certain level of exercise I can eat 2,400 calories a day and lose weight, so I’m not dieting as such. I’ve just got rid of some bad habits, fizzy drinks for light versions, less alcohol and I’m cooking for myself more. The Pinch of Nom book has some great low calorie recipes. I’m really enjoying cooking.”

Before and after – three stones lighter

And the closure of gyms is no excuse. Tom racks up 10,000 steps a day, either running or walking, depending on his mood. He also does a HIIT session of interval training at home using his own body weight for squats, burpees, lunges, sit-ups, tuck jumps etc. He uses two 2-litre bottles of water for weights.

A typical day’s eating starts with a protein shake and a banana, lunch will be a bagel or wrap with bacon, egg, salad and dinner a protein like tuna, chicken or salmon with a plate full of veg. He also enjoys fruit, apples, pineapple.

But his treat at the end of the day is a big cookie. “I just couldn’t give that up. It’s something to look forward to and I factor in the calories,” he said.

“Losing weight has helped my physical and mental health. At the start of lockdown I was feeling really down. I’ve been getting lots of compliments and people have been very kind in their encouragement. It’s quite overwhelming. Now I have drive and enthusiasm and I want to pass on the knowledge I’ve learned to other people.”

Follow Tom’s progress @ Tom Redmond Fitness

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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