Dad who struggled to climb stairs loses over 5st through football and gets ‘best’ comment from five-year-old daughter

Tom is now 6st 7lb lighter (Collect/PA Real Life)
Tom is now 6st 7lb lighter (Collect/PA Real Life) Tom is now 6st 7lb lighter (Collect/PA Real Life)

A man who found himself struggling to climb the stairs has lost more than 6st after rediscovering his love of football and playing a weekly game of five-a-side, earning a huge compliment from his five-year-old daughter who says he is “so much more fun now”.

Tom Read, 31, a customer service adviser from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, weighed 25st at his heaviest and said his weight caused him to avoid social gatherings as he feared he was “the largest guy in the room”.

Wanting to be a “fun dad” and be able to take part in his children’s sports days, Tom joined the Man v Fat weight loss programme, where he played a weekly game of five-a-side football with other men hoping to lose weight and as a result, went from wearing a size XXXXXL-XXXL to a XL.

Tom, who has two children aged five and two, said: “Joining the football programme was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve gone from being the heaviest I’ve ever been to the slimmest I’ve been since my teenage years.

Tom Read
Tom Read Tom lost weight by playing football weekly (Collect/PA Real Life)

“It’s allowed me to make some great friends and increase from hardly playing football to playing at least two times a week.

“It’s also helped me socially because I would go to events thinking that I’d be the largest guy there and made me think that I shouldn’t be there.

“I would struggle getting up stairs but now I’m in better shape than I have been in years.”

Searching for a programme to help him lose weight, Tom found Man v Fat through Facebook in May 2022.

Tom Read
Tom Read The father-of-two said losing weight has saved his life (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

He said: “I’d heard of Man v Fat before but I had no idea how much it would change my life.

“I used to play five-a-side with mates from college every week but I stopped playing around the age of 24 so that’s one of the main reasons I joined the programme.”

The single father-of-two said he was struggling to climb the stairs without losing his breath and knew he “needed to make a change”.

Attending his first Man v Fat session, Tom weighed about 24st after losing a stone by himself.

  • Breakfast – four slices of toast and five or six pains au chocolat
  • Lunch – mighty bucket for one from KFC
  • Snack – share bag of crisps and an energy drink
  • Dinner – pizza, chips and a Coke

He said: “Going to my first week of Man v Fat, I was so nervous, when I was playing five-a-side I had played with lads who were fitter, competitive and used to playing at a decent level. At my heaviest, I was worried I wouldn’t fit in.

“But as soon as I walked through the doors, everyone was really welcoming and it was such a good feeling. Everyone is just there for the same reason.”

While Tom said the programme does not require dietary restrictions, he started to adapt his own daily diet.

Cutting out his snacks of share bag crisps and swapping his breakfasts of four rounds of toast and five pains au chocolat for protein porridge, Tom started to shift the pounds.

Tom Read
Tom Read Tom also adapted his daily diet (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

He said: “Before I would drink full-fat Coke and energy drinks so I cut them out and started drinking two to three litres of water a day.

“I slowly got used to it and I started to notice my clothes getting looser which motivated me to keep going.”

Every week Tom plays a 30-minute game of five-a-side football with other men trying to lose weight.

The group is weighed weekly and points are added to their score for milestone losses.

Tom Read
Tom Read Tom said his weight caused him to avoid social gatherings as he feared he was ‘the largest guy in the room’ (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

“It’s not only the friendships you make but also, the support you get from the coaches is first class and there is no shame in it. With other weight loss programmes, I’d feel under pressure if I’d had a bad week,” Tom said.

“It’s given me a routine that has allowed my mental health and confidence to improve so much, in my past I was drinking so much and just sitting home eating and this contributed to my poor health and was having an effect where I just didn’t want to do anything.

“If I hadn’t started the weight loss then I know I would be in a much worse place.”

In May 2023, Tom weighed in at 18st 7lb, 6st 7lb lighter than he was when he first started his weight loss journey a year earlier.

  • Breakfast – protein porridge with fruit
  • Lunch – sandwich, low calorie crisps and a two-finger KitKat
  • Snack – sugar-free energy drink
  • Dinner – chicken and rice
  • Snack – Mars Bar

Receiving positive feedback on his transformation from family and friends, Tom said the best compliment he got was from his five-year-old daughter.

He added: “Previously, I would struggle running around after my kids but now I can run around and play with them without getting out of breath.

“My five-year-old commented to me that I’m so much more fun now and playing with me is a lot more fun, which was just the best thing to hear.

Tom Read
Tom Read Tom said he is now able to run around with his children (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA Real Life)

“I want to be a dad who is able to take part in sports days and run around with them, so seeing the difference in me is such a boost.

“I’ll be completely honest, losing weight has saved my life. I was in a place where I just couldn’t see a positive end and felt like I’d end up being 30 stone.

“I didn’t want to be that dad that couldn’t run around after his kids and I wanted to change, and Man v Fat has allowed me to do this.

“If anyone is thinking about doing this programme, it’s the best decision I made and I’m sure it would be for others too.”