AT the start of the year he was too overweight for an op to restore his voice but since The Journal and Real Radio’s Fit Factor competition, Ian Gibson has shed an amazing eight stone and been given the green light for life-changing surgery on his throat.
The 45-year-old Port of Tyne director from Wardley can’t wait to get his voice back, which is currently more of a whisper.
He said: “My consultant gave me a target of eight stone weight loss to perform the operation under a local anaesthetic.
“That’s now achieved and the operation on my paralysed vocal chord is confirmed for November 5.”
Having broken the 20 stone barrier – slimming from 27 stone 10lbs to 19st 10lb in just 18 weeks – he’s even taken up squash again, going head to head with Fit Factor winner Daniel Henderson at Gateshead Leisure Centre this week.
After a few close sets of 9-6 and 9-7, Daniel’s competitive spirit kicked in and he beat Ian.
However, he was given a run for his money. Dan said: “It’s not all about who’s the fittest as it’s about skill and technique too. Ian had a few tricky shots up his sleeve and had me running all over the court.”
Ian added: “I haven’t played squash since I was 18 and about 17 stone but I really enjoyed it.”
Before Fit Factor, Ian admits he was a prime candidate for a heart attack being morbidly obese, doing no exercise and working long hours in a stressful job.
A consultant had suggested gastric band surgery but Ian was determined to do things the right way. “He said that at my age and considering I had been over 20 stone for almost all my adult life, there was no chance I would lose the weight naturally,” said Ian. “Well, it shows you what he knows about me!”
When a close friend, Harry Kleipas, died of cancer last December, Ian knew he needed to turn his life around. “It was probably one of the biggest things that got me through the first few weeks – and still is,” he said. “Harry was a heavy smoker and we had a bet every year – he had to stop smoking for six months and I had to get under 20 stone and maintain it for six months. Needless to say neither of us paid out. I promised mine and his family and myself that 2012 would be the year I did it and won that bet for myself and in memory of a great friend.”
Ian says Fit Factor has had a lasting impact on his life. “I’m still maintaining the same food intake as the 12 weeks Fit Factor programme,” he said. “I’ve lost 14 inches off my waist and 18 inches off my stomach, and have gone down to XL/XXL shirts from 4/5XL.”
He’s also continuing with his exercise regime, meeting once a week with the Active 8 as well as having a weekly personal training session with David Fairlamb.
A two-mile run across the Tynemouth Longsands before David’s Saturday morning beach boot camp is also keeping him trim.
Having completed the Great North 10k, the next target is the Middlesborough 10k on September 2 and the Great North Run on September 16.
“Needless to say, I could never have done this without the tremendous support of Dave Fairlamb and his team, my understanding boss Andrew Moffat and the support of The Journal and Real Radio,” said Ian. “The ongoing help and camaraderie of the other seven has also been fantastic.”
While Daniel may be concentrating on getting fitter and maintaining his weight, Ian admits he still has further to go: “I hope to lose 12 stone by Christmas, making me under 16 stone, which I have never been since I was about 17 and was still playing football, rugby and squash.”
NEXT WEEK: After a wedding and an all-inclusive holiday, is our winner Daniel Henderson still on target?