Tean Butler sidestepped obesity and heart disease by putting on his running shoes

THE GAIN
From the age of seven I was obese, and I’ve been overweight for most of my life. Being the “big” kid in school didn’t really bother me; this was the image I grew up with after all. Playing rugby in school helped me control my weight (to some extent), but in 2003 I injured my knee in a rugby match and needed surgery. I wasn’t able to play sport and so started picking up more weight. I weighed around 120kg during my Grade 12 year at my current height of 1.92m. During my varsity years I kept gaining weight until 2009, when I weighed 140kg. I didn’t care about what I ate and wasn’t aware of the damage I was doing to my body.

THE CHANGE,
One day in October 2009, people close to me teased me about my weight. It really hit home how fat I was. I immediately made a decision that I was going to lose weight and become a fit and healthy person.

THE STRATEGY
I started to cut back on carbs and began to jog regularly. I jogged for around 30 minutes a day while doing a 45-minute spinning class five days a week. I allowed myself to recover over weekends. I also taught myself to look at the energy values of food that I ate. I made sure that I was burning fat each day by taking in less energy than I was using up. By the third month I had already lost 40kg. By then I was quite fit and managed my first sub- 50 minute 10km. This inspired me to enter my first marathon, which I finished. Now I am addicted to marathons and half marathons – they keep me motivated to eat correctly and train hard.

THE REWARD
People have accepted me in a different way than before. I started to feel great and had almost no “tired” days. The biggest reward is that I can look at myself in the mirror and feel proud of my body.

THE RESULT
My total weight loss is 53kg. I dropped from an XXL shirt to a medium, and from size 42 pants to a size 34