By Izzy Hawksworth via SWNS
A dad-of-two says he can now pursue his dream to be a professional singer – after losing over nine stone.
Mark Marsden, 31, ballooned to around 26st 7lb at his heaviest but has never felt better after dropping an incredible 9st 2lbs.
He’s now able to play football with his children Riley, 11, and Amelia, five, and has been able to focus on becoming a professional singer thanks to his new confidence.
Instead of hiding behind the DJ booth like he used to, he now sings a range of songs from artists like Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Etta James and Michael Bolton.
Mark said: “I also have a lot more confidence for my singing gigs.
“I take opportunities I’d have turned down before and enjoy performing so much more because I know nobody it is talking about my weight – just how I sound.
“Music is something I’m passionate about so I now feel ready to chase my dreams and sing as much as I can.
“The only problem is it feels so good to walk into a shop and know something will fit me that I end up buying a new suit before every show.”
The DJ has admitted that ‘pure greed’ and his ‘addictive personality’ is what led him to pile on the pounds throughout his 20s.
He even needed to be fed by his brother for three months at one point, after he was left bed-bound from agonizing back spasms brought on by his weight.
After he started recovering from the injury, Mark took Amelia and Riley to a funfair but the safety bar on a ride wouldn’t close on him.
He was forced to get off the ride but ‘vowed’ to partner Stacey Bradley, 35, and his children that he would ‘never feel like that again.’
Mark, who now owns a cafe, said: “I’d been off work for a while with a bad back injury – I was bed-ridden and relied on my family to look after me.
“I was just starting to get some mobility back when the kids asked me to take them on a ride at the fair.
“But the safety bar wouldn’t close, and three staff had to try to push the bar down with a crowd of people watching.
“In the end we all got off the ride – I felt as though the kids were embarrassed by me.
“I vowed to never feel like that again.”
Just two days after visiting the funfair in November 2021, Mark decided to join his local Slimming World group in Rotherham, South Yorks,.
He lost a whopping 16lbs in the first week as he started planning meals and adapting what he would eat in the evenings.
Since then, he’s lost an incredible 16ins (40cm) around his waist and has lost 9st 2lbs (58kg) altogether.
Mark said: “I’d heard a bit about Slimming World and knew that it was about eating proper food, so it sounded like a good fit.
“I thought the group would be full of women and older people, so I was quite surprised to find that I wasn’t the only man there and at how welcome I was made to feel.
“From that first day in group, everyone including my consultant Caroline was so supportive.
“She helped me to realise where my excess calories were coming from, and I noticed that I was making unhealthy decisions when I was hungry and in a rush.
“I started planning my meals and the other members in group gave me ideas for packed lunches for work, so I wasn’t grabbing something on the go.
“In my first week, I lost 16lbs.
“Stacey was supportive too and she was happy for us to adapt our evening meals so that they fit within the plan.
“Slimming World burgers with sweet potato fries is one of our favourites.
“It’s real food so I never feel like I’m on a diet.”
Mark also decided to join a gym with the help of Slimming World’s physical activity support program and he’s now been awarded the group’s ‘Mr Sleek 2024’ title.
The dad-of-two said: “As the weight started to come off, I found that I had loads more energy.
“Instead of sleeping through my alarm in the mornings, I was waking up feeling rested and ready for the day.
“Weight training appealed to me because I knew it would help me to strengthen my back and avoid becoming injured again.
“I never would have set foot in a gym when I was heavier though so it’s completely different from before.
“The kids love it when we do active things as a family now too, like running around at soft play together and visiting theme parks, as it’s something we didn’t do when I was bigger.”
Breakfast: Large bacon, egg, sausage, hash brown, mushroom, cheese and black pudding sandwich
Lunch: Shop-bought sandwich with a bag of crisps, two chocolate bars and a flapjack
Tea: Ham and pineapple takeaway pizza with curly fries and cheesecake
Snacks: Two litres of full-sugar cola and a few beers
Breakfast: Two Weetabix with semi-skimmed milk, strawberries, banana, black coffee
Mid-morning snack: Box of grapes or melon
Lunch: Homemade tuna or chicken pasta bake topped with cheese, followed by a Slimming World Hi-fi bar
Tea: A homemade beef burger, served in a wholemeal roll with sweet potato fries and a large salad
Snacks: Low-fat cheese, rice cakes, sugar-free jelly and vodka and diet coke