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Man v Fat Football - A Personal Blog
Written by GavTWTD on Friday, 30th Nov 2018 11:15

I'm fat. There, I said it. I'm a 248lb/112kg bloke in my late 40s and I'm struggling with my weight. I've lacked the will power to either do something about it or, when I've succeeded, to keep it off.

I love takeaways. The ease of app-tapping what toppings you want on a pizza and then deliberating over the size because the larger one is only a pound extra.

Then, quite a few months ago, I saw an item on The One Show about Man v Fat Football, a weight loss programme for lovers of football, and thought "that's just perfect for me" even though I hadn't played football in 30 years.

I entered my details online and had to wait over a month for the registration night as it was a new league, but when it came round I nervously entered the room and there were about 90 people all in the same boat as me. Some looked in a much better state than me, some worse, but you can only register if you're over a certain BMI (27.5).

We watched a brief presentation and then allocated our teams who we'd be playing with for the next 14 weeks. In our new groups we came up with our ridiculous team names and went off to be weighed, and our heights and waists measured. We set up our own WhatsApp group, selected a captain and then home.

The next week we started in earnest. You get weighed every week before each match as those measurements play a part in your team's score. The weight is recorded in your handbook in which you log what you've eaten in the week. We had a mixture of lads that played regularly, and the likes of me who didn't were stuck in defence. Plenty of substitutions later, we won our first match convincingly. I was terrible, but I loved it.

The next day we were emailed the final scores and league table updated. This is the strength of the MANvFAT programme. I might not have scored any goals in that match, but my weight loss counted towards my team score and we confirmed the win. Congratulations all around via WhatsApp and you get to know your team-mates more, and help each other.

The scoring system is quite involved, but makes perfect sense. Added onto your goals on the pitch you get a number of added bonuses:

  • Hat-trick - Every time you lose weight three times you get a goal added to your score
  • Own Goal - If you gain weight over your starting weight then a goal is taken away from your score
  • 5% - 10% - If you lose 5% or 10% of your starting weight then you get three goals added to your score
  • Team Bonus - If two of your team have lost, then a bonus of one goal is added to your score. Four players, two goals. Six players, three goals etc.
  • Tracking Goals - Similarly you get a team bonus for simply filling in your workbook (or Progress website)

Fast-forward to now and as of this week I've lost 10% of my bodyweight. My original target was to lose 27% but will certainly take longer than the 14-week programme, but you can rejoin next season provided you've over 27.5 BMI. The weight I'm aiming for is 84kg which would be too low to rejoin the programme.

I can't recommend the programme highly enough. I really feel that I can achieve my goals, but I'm also really enjoying the whole experience. I'm now eating a lot more healthily and I'm swimming five days a week and besides the MANvFAT games I'm also playing the occasional five-a-side game too. The football is competitive but non-contact though we have had complaints about our language! Everyone on our WhatsApp group are committed too and that helps a great deal.

Please note that all our links to MANvFAT are referral codes and we will be donating 100% of the money earned from each registrant to Prostate Cancer UK. You will also get £5 off your registration fee. Alternatively you can use the referral code "TWTD9680" which you can enter when you register.

There are leagues up and down the country. Click here to find one near you. Some leagues are already in play, but you can join mid-season or register your interest for the start of the next.

The Ipswich League

Those that are lucky enough to be in the Ipswich area get to play behind the Co-op stand on the practice pitch at Portman Road. The league is run by Tom Irving, who's the nutritionist at ITFC so he should know what he's talking about.

Games are played on Fridays from 7pm. Click here for more information.

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

Steve_M added 11:52 - Nov 30
But, but, but I always assumed Gav looked like Taricco....

Well done Gav for making the effort and writing about it so clearly and honestly. I've a few friends who've participated and they have all benefited from it too, seems a great idea.

Ewan_Oozami added 12:02 - Nov 30
Well done Gav! I'm always 100% supporting anyone who tries hard to improve their situation, whatever it may be (and that obviously includes Town at the moment!)

But the hardest thing of all is to take that first step and addressing it - I have friends who play walking football and they can't praise it highly enough - no-one feels uncomfortable whatever their fitness level, and I guess it'll be the same for MVF.

Keep us posted on your progress Gav, we're all rooting for you - you never know, you might even bring some harmony to the forum with your endeavours! :-)

SitfcB added 12:22 - Nov 30
I wish I was a 112kg bloke

A few TWTDers have been involved with the Ipswich one, I did it for three seasons, unfortunately it didn’t work for me as I’m not strict enough.

But I have seen the success stories for real in real time and some of the results are amazing and would recommend this programme to anyone.

northstandsteps added 12:45 - Nov 30
Gav, just yesterday I joined a league they are trying yo set up in Romford. I kept on seeing these Facebook ads and after some scouring of the website, a few you tube vids and now your post on here my "I haven't played for 22 years and have gained 6 stone nerves" have disappeared. Good luck with the rest of your weight loss

BasingstokeBranch added 12:45 - Nov 30
Well done Gav. I registered for this programme too having seen the article on the One Show, paid the registration fee but I’m still waiting for a league to be established in Basingstoke.

Coastalblue added 12:46 - Nov 30
Never heard of this, but it sounds good. Going to investigate now. I ruptured my achilles just under three years ago and never been back on top of the weight since.

GavTWTD added 13:59 - Nov 30
@Basingstokebranch I'm going to be running this blog on our sister site in Portsmouth and Southampton so maybe there'll be some added interest there too.

GavTWTD added 14:04 - Nov 30
@northstandsteps yes everyone is in the same boat as you. Its important to throw yourself into it and get to know the people in your team as they help a great deal.

Thanks for yours and everyone's good wishes. I will add to the blog just before Christmas when my league is due to end and starting a new one in January. If I lose 2lbs a month I should reach my goal in March some time. Seems a long way away now but it soon comes around.

Chondzoresk added 15:07 - Nov 30
Kudos, well done. Love to lose weight as I am 19 stone....this might just be my answer. I will look into this further. Thanks Gav. Good luck to you too.

Currie10 added 06:52 - Dec 1
Hey Gav - fantastic! Great to read. Going to write a few thoughts I have on how to really get to grips with it. Really helped my ex. When I met her she couldn't run 200 metres. Within two months she'd conquered a 6k in 35 minutes - which is actually good. Lost around two stone - however, there is one key -

* She joined a programme that didn't bother with weight at all. They didn't measure it at the start, they didn't at the end. They worked in INCHES LOST at various points of the body. F45 I think it was. Measure say your quad / gut / etc etc. She lost around 44 inches combined. Weight MEH. One week you'll lose, the next you'll put on. Muscle weighs more than fat.......... etc! I find it the worst indicator ever - but in the UK we associate big people with being ' fat '. Our bodies are what 70% water content to start with!

* EAT FOOD MORE SLOWLY. The most basic point I would advise anyone doing this. Now I have no idea how you eat. However, it's proven and I know myself if I eat SLOWER, I will be full LONGER. Say you go to a Buffet - watch the big people pile their plate up, NOM NOM NOM NOM like they will run out of food within two seconds then be in such a hurry to get another loaded plate. Steady!!! CHEW YOUR FOOD. Wenger introduced ' chew to win ' at Arsenal.

* Portion size is the next thing I think gets neglected. People bang on about diets - absolute rubbish. Diets are set up to fail. Sure, it's important to get fruit / veg / vitamins / protein etc in our system - but when someone in life says YOU ARE NOT - what's human nature!?!?!? Say We're intaking 3500 calories to start with of not good food - just start chipping away at the plate sizes/ incorporate more good stuff and hey presto!

* Chocolate cake breakfast diet -

I actually did this at work - in summary - we're all going to eat rubbish - so eat the crap IN A MORNING so it's got time to go. I think nothing bad about having half a pizza / muffin for breakfast. It'll go over the course of the day.

* Exercise that bit more - take the stairs! Avoid lifts.

People often set themselves up to fail. Their desperate to lose 4/5 pounds week 1, change their diet from XYZ to salads / then week 3/4 it's gone to crap.

You'll do well mate and sound like you are - just thought I'd share this.

Needs to be fun!!!

yogiblue added 23:10 - Dec 1
Well done Gav. I've been doing the Ipswich one since it started last year, and love the whole premise of it. Highly recommend it to anyone who loves football and wants to lose weight.

rfretwell added 19:17 - Dec 5
Brilliant Gav. I have recently started doing walking football here in Walton on Thames and can highly recommend that too. It's for ages 50 and over. We have an 84 year old even and give him a 5yard exclusion zone.! Anyone interested just google "walking football" for your area or have a word with your local leisure centre.
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