‘I lost 10 stone in just over a year and I can actually live now’

When Victor Choules, 57, from Leeds, started running in 2018, he was instantly hooked. Like many, his love of running started with his first run in a local park. Soon after, he joined a club – the Rothwell Harriers – where he made lifelong friends and went on to train for the club and complete multiple half marathons.

But has always struggled with his weight and playing the sport he loves has been an uphill battle. The battle got tougher between 2018 and 2021 when his eating got more and more out of control.

In 2021, Choules stopped running entirely—at the time he weighed 25 13 pounds and could barely breathe while walking. He lost all motivation and confidence to the point where he no longer wanted to leave the house – not even to walk the dog. He can no longer drive – but when he rides the bus, he is bullied for his size. He uses a sleep apnea machine to breathe at night and takes six different pills a day that have kept him alive.

But in December 2021, things changed. “That weight hurts me a lot and I just need to do something about it,” he said. “I love running and I love being a part of it, so I gave in.”

Through tremendous discipline and dedication – despite the sad loss of his beloved wife Sarah in the meantime – Jolles lost 10 stone in a little over a year – and now not only is running again, And become a staunch supporter of his local running community. Here, he tells RW how he did it — and the big part running has played in his remarkable journey…

Tell us about your pre-weight runs — where did your runs start?

“I was running all the time, but I've also always been big. So I struggled with that. I used to run with a couple of friends, but then, putting on weight, they were obviously a lot faster and a lot better than me. I started with parkrun, then I started doing the half marathon in London, then I did the Manchester half marathon but then gained weight. I still try to do half marathons – when I was at my heaviest I was at 3: 30 ran one. I said to myself, ‘whatever happens, we're going to get this done'. But in the end, your body can't handle that weight to do anything, even just walk to the bus stop. At 25 stone Running…it's not very healthy.

Have you been struggling with your weight?

vic joles weight loss

Vic started running in 2018 but struggled with weight before


“I've always been big, but I've also kept at it. I used to play football seven times a week and I was a goalkeeper. I was big then, but I never thought about it, I was too heavy on this, I was too heavy on it. That one was too heavy, but then when you think about it, I need to do something about it…

My eating became very out of control. I used to love chocolate, chips, bread – bread was my downfall. If I have one slice of toast, I have seven slices of toast. Honestly, I eat eight Big Macs a day sometimes – I have nothing to hide – I suck.

I used to get bullied on the bus and other things. When I had sleep apnea, I couldn't drive, so I took the bus and people would call me by all kinds of names under the sun. We used to get off and wait for the next bus. It got to the point where I didn't even want to walk the dog – I couldn't get up and leave. I'd rather sit on the couch all day and think about nothing, now I'd rather get up and do things.

What motivated you to make a change?

“Two things: I want to run with my friends at the club – I love running and I love being a part of it. But obviously with my health issues, being that heavy is taking a toll on me, I feel like I need to do something about it. I've been on medication for high blood pressure – I'm completely off now – I think I'm on six different pills a day. My waist was 66” and now my Waist down to 38 inches.

You are now 15 lbs 13 lbs and have lost a whopping 10 lbs. how did you do it?

vic joles weight loss

Vic says he wants to throw another rock where he wants to go


“It's been a big part of being helped by Slimming World. I've joined the Rothwell Slimming World Group and it's helped me a lot. I think it's going to be a Thursday morning weigh-in thing…

With Slimming World, you can eat 15 “Syns” per day (foods that are the least filling but high in calories, such as biscuits, candy, and alcohol – there is a value for each food), but I try to eight, you can How much “free food” you want to eat, including lean meats, eggs, fish, pasta, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.

But you have to make up your mind to stick with it. You can get weighed, you can listen to what the people have to say there, but you still have to walk out and be disciplined for the next 7 days. It is easy to fall back into bad habits.

The Running and Slimming Worlds Go Hand in Hand

How has running helped you on this journey?

‘Running and weight loss go hand in hand. It definitely helps with weight loss – I know it's true. But last year I had a miserable year. I lost my wife Sarah. I could have gone backwards back then, but I couldn't because if you go backwards, you don't get out of it again.

But the running community has been great for me – I have three very special running friends, Dawn, Amanda and Don, and parkrun friends. My wife loves sunflowers so we organized a sunflower walk one evening – 200 people at the club. This year, I will be hosting a club relay in her honor. Sarah would be very proud now. She knows how much I struggle with food and how much I love running.

How can losing weight improve your health and well-being?

vic joles weight loss

Vic's friends put on his old jeans


“I can actually live now, before I could barely breathe when I was walking. But the health benefits…I'm off meds at all now. I also have more confidence. Honestly, I've never had any before Confidence, now I'm the Run Director for the Rothwell parkrun, I stand in front of 300 people every Saturday morning and I absolutely love it. I still want to lose a stone just to get where I want to go – and then I'll buy it my new wardrobe.

How Losing Weight Can Improve Your Running?

“I used to run a race and get into all kinds of trouble. When I grew up and raced, I would crawl over the line and think, what am I doing this for? Now, I can finish a race. Race and feel good about myself. When I was at my heaviest, I used to do park runs in under 40 minutes and now I'm back to 29 minutes. I'm running for my first marathon – the Rob Burrows Leeds Marathon – training, the whole club is in and we're doing the London Landmark Half Marathon and the Great North Run again this year. Eating healthy has also improved my running tremendously. I've always loved cooking but now I do everything and I Love it so much. I feel more energized.

What does a typical training week look like for you right now?

vic joles weight loss

Vic and Run Leader Dawn at Rothwell Running Club meet and greet


“Well, I finished my Active Balance class this morning, I'm doing Body Bump tomorrow, and Body Combat the next morning. Then I do Pilates twice a week, and I have interval training at the running club tonight, and I Now I'm the running leader for my club, so I'll be able to do it tomorrow night. I'm doing the parkrun every Saturday morning, and I'm setting up the Junior parkrun as well. I'll be doing long runs with the club on Sunday.

Do you have anything to say to anyone who is struggling with their weight but feels like hitting a wall?

‘Find the world of slimming closest to you and walk in the door. It's like going to an AA meeting. Because if you take the first step, you won't regret it. And the running and slimming worlds go hand in hand. If you haven't run but want to run, start by doing park runs – you can walk or walk-run, you'll never finish because there's a tail walker. You can look at your time each week and think, next week I'm going to try to beat it. I just organized a Slimming World takeover on our runway – they're all going to come and direct, just to get them involved. Slimming World helped me, so I'm going to help them. I just want to help and inspire others, and if I can help others, I will.

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