Bibra Lake resident Mark Jennings is putting out the call for more men to get involved in The University of Western Australia’s innovative community weight loss initiative for men, MAN v FAT Soccer.
Mr Jennings, 48, who is part of the Cockburn MAN v FAT Soccer league, has shed 19kg through the program so far, from a starting weight of 137kg to 118kg by the end of his first 15-week season.
A team from UWA Sport and the Psychology of Active Healthy Living (PAHL) group at UWA introduced the program last year to improve the health of Western Australian males. Players receive weight loss help from an expert league weight loss coach and continued support on the MAN v FAT website and through their team’s WhatsApp group.
Dr Ben Jackson, co-director of UWA’s PAHL group said MAN v FAT Soccer leagues at UWA, Cockburn and Canning would continue with new leagues at Rockingham, Mandurah and Victoria Park as well as Gawler in South Australia.
“We’ll have seven leagues as we come to the end of 2019 with plans to grow that to 10 or 12 in the first half of next year,” Dr Jackson said.
Mr Jennings said he first heard about MAN v FAT Soccer on the TV news and liked the idea.
“After many years being told off by my GP about my weight issues and lack of motivation and feeling embarrassed about joining a gym, I thought why not give this a go,” he said. “Seeing a photo of myself with my family for our 25th wedding anniversary woke me up as to how much weight I was carrying and I didn’t like the person I saw in that photo.
“I call it the ‘lightbulb moment’. I had already registered for the program and it gave me the motivation to go on with it after self-doubt had kicked in.”
Mr Jennings said the program helped by giving him the tools he needed to help him manage healthy food incentives, portion sizes and exercise.
“Being in a team environment which I missed from my sporting days gave me the motivation to keep losing weight each week so I didn't let my team mates down. The fire in the belly returned – so much that I lost weight every week from the motivation this program has given me.
“I feel so much better in myself mentally and physically, the pride I have in myself from the hard work, commitment and endeavour and seeing results I didn’t think were possible.
“My family has noticed not only the physical change but they’ve also made comments about how my self-belief has kicked back in.”
Mark’s advice for anyone considering getting involved in the program is not to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
“If you have never played soccer before don’t worry as I only played one game for sport at school too many years to count years ago.
“My team mates guided me on what to do – they made a massive difference and gave me the confidence to keep trying.
“We are all in the same situation with our weight so no-one judges you. Having a go is the first important step, having fun is the second important step and it keeps you motivated.
“The third embraced your team mates and enjoy being around them and give each other encouragement it really helps. I know mine did, they gave me the help and I trust I gave it in return.”
For men interested in joining the program or to find out if there are plans for a league nearby, visit:
Ben Jackson (PAHL Group, UWA) 0488 236 780
Simone Hewett (UWA Media & PR Adviser) 08 6488 7975