Rugbyphillia or how I learned to stop eating and play rugby

At rugby last night one of the guys made a comment to me. It was meant in passing and as a nice gesture (which it was) but it got me thinking and has lead me to write this blog. The comment ‘Russ, I don’t mean to be funny, but you’ve lost a lot of weight.’ This then made me think about how much weight i’d lost and how much my fitness has improved.

Now i’d like to take a lot of the credit for this and what I’m doing with the cycling but truthfully I can’t, two events and one person really deserve the credit. So take a trip down memory lane with me as I show you how I came to this point. Some of the pictures really make me cringe but I need to show them to show what I was like.

I want you to go back to the summer of 2007. It was a summer that would be plagued in my hometown of Gloucester by floods, however before that did begin my good friend wills had a barbecue. At that Barbecue this picture was taken:

I logged onto see this the next day and I could of cried. I went into denial about it. Was I really that fat? No it must have been the camera angle, I wasn’t that bad. But the scales don’t lie I was weighing in at nearly 21 stone. I was lazy and didn’t worry about exercise at all. I was going no where fast really. Which is funny as its what happened the next morning when I had to run for the bus, if people think i’m slow now they should have seen me then! I just made the bus, it was a 150 yard run but it nearly killed me!

Something had to change, but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, and that night I went home and actually cried. I was fed up of the fat jokes, being single etc etc, it was like a emo kids wet dream.

Now I don’t believe in fate or ghosts or God etc but that night something happened that is so conincidental as to be weird. I can’t explain it and don’t think there was more to it than blind luck but you never know. I had a dream about my dad, in it he told me how ashamed of me he was, why was i so fat and lazy when he’d given so much for me. I needed to face up to some responsibility and change my life.

I woke up shaking and crying its the most vivid dream i’ve ever had. So to calm down I did what I always did; had two bowls of cereal; way to take the message on board. Then I logged onto shedweb; the mecca of Glaws fans. I saw a post from two guys who’d become good mates of mine; Graham and Jim. They were trying to form a touch side and did people fancy joining in.  Now normally i’d click next and move on. But for whatever reason i agreed to it. So for the first time since school I was playing rugby of some kind:

God knows what the lads thought when the fatty on the right shipped up. Now I wont lie I was rubbish when I started I was fat, I was slow, I was of the pace and I couldn’t run for more than a minute. But I loved every minute of it and that summer I achived a childhood dream of playing rugby at Kingsholm and scoring a try. Yes it was in a touch match but still not many people have done that.

Then the touch season came to an end though and that looked like it. However Jez, asked me to fill in a match at Dowtys. I thought I’d give it one game to see if I still had what it takes so I went along:

I’ve been at the club ever since and I love it. The level of rugby isn’t great and in truth we are as social as you can get. But the lads are a good bunch and at times we play like a good side.

Whilst all this was going on, I met Em and this spurred the efforts on even more. You see, I’ve always been insecure about my body image and was so worried of losing her, what did she see in me? I was convinced one day she’d wake up see the lump next to her and call it a day. But love her she never did. Shes never made me feel crap about myself and always pushed me more than I’d ever push myself. She never moans when I slope off to another rugby match neglecting her, or moan about how hard it is. She doesn’t know how much this means to me.

So I kept on going longer than I though I would and had a second summer of touch:

This photo was taken almost a year to the day from the first touch pic and hopefully it shows that i’d already lost a bit of weight (about 2 stone I believe)

However then a set back occured when I broke my leg at training:

This made me take stock. Yes I’d lost a decent amount of weight but I could be doing and needed to do more if i wanted to come back stronger from this, so as soon as I could I joined the gym and pushed myself more. I had moments where I hated it and wanted to quit but I kept on going. The main reason a game against the cherrypickers, a bunch of old players. Players I grew up idolising with my dad, a game I was going to be part of no matter what:

I’ve played in two more games since and been honoured enough to captain in one of them. And the whole time Em has been behind me supporting and encouraging me to be better. I know my old man has been driving me on and believing in me, both more than I ever do myself and slowly but surely the weight went off and my confidence grew. I slowly developed into a passable rugby player too who could get round the park more than before.

So we come to this year and the rugby, now I’m still over weight here and have a long way to go, but judge it against the first picture and I think you can see a big step forward:

It still wasn’t enough though, something ate away at me. I was happy with my life in general but a mid 20s crisis was eating away. It was that damm desire to make my dad proud to do more to keep bettering myself. Thats when the bike ride idea came in, again Em has been amazing she didn’t moan that I wanted to swan around on my bike and leave her for 12 days, she straight away mucked in and told her dad who gave me a bike. She has helped with the fund raising. Shes amazing and i’m truely lucky to have her in my life.

So thats where I am now and this is how I looked at the fat blokes last month:

I’m actually proud of the way I look. I still have more weight to loose but I know how hard I have worked to get to that point. Yesterday I weighed in at 15 stone 8. I’ve lost over 5 stone. I’m aiming to get under 15 by the end of october and i’m on track.

So the point of this blog. Simple. If someone as lazy and mediocre as me can do it you can to! I urge anyone out there thinking of going back to sport to do it! It hurts like hell and its utter pain at times, but it can be so much fun. I’vem ade some amazing friends on this journey. Some of them are amongst my best mates now. And they’ve all helped me get to this point. Some of the stuff they are doing to help my fundraising is awesome and I really can’t thank them enough. Everyone of them has put a part of themselves into this story of making the old man proud. So a big big thank you to all of you.

But most of all thank you to Em, for beliving in me more than I do.

That photo was a few weeks ago and other than looking like a chipmunk i like this pic!

So there you go, running for a bus, breaking my leg and Em. Who would have thought all that would have changed my life.


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