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“I could only buy clothes in my size in America – I decided to change”

Andy, from Telford, decided that enough was enough and decided to lose weight and exercise more.
Andy in America on the lookout for new clothes
Andy in America on the lookout for new clothes
Guest blog by Andy Crozier – Chairman of Lawley Running Club, Telford Parkrun Volunteer and winner of 2017 Telford & Wrekin Council Active Lifestyle Award

I didn’t really start thinking seriously about my weight or how I was living, until I had to buy my clothes while I was on holiday in America, because that was the only way I could get the designer jeans and t-shirts that I wanted in a large enough size! I was wearing a 42 inch waist at that point.

It was July 2011 when I came back from that family holiday. I didn’t quite get back into my normal routine when we got home, because I decided to try out Taekwondo. My daughter had been studying Taekwondo for years and the club was trying to get a few parents to try it out. I really struggled during that first class, and it made me realise how overweight and unfit I was!

I decided to change

I gave myself a date to start a healthier lifestyle, and chose the 1st August 2011. When the day came, I started dieting and doing more exercise.

My way of dieting was to cut out beer and to stop eating all of the bread I had been eating. Because I drive for a living, I would always have sandwiches or cobs with me and as soon as I was in a traffic jam I would reach for the food. I swapped my sandwiches for salads so I couldn’t dip my hand in on the journeys.

I started to go running too, starting with a loop around Lawley and when I could do the loop nonstop I would go a little further.

I also found a group on Telford Council’s website called Tackle your Health, so once a week I would do circuit training with a group of guys from here, led by Tackle your Health trainer Sid.

Andy competing in a half marathon
Andy competing in a half marathon

My fitness really improved, and nearly 18 months later I had grown to really enjoy running. I thought that to help me with my motivation I would enter the Telford 10k in December 2012. I don’t think in August 2011 that I would have believed you if you said I would one day run a 10k, but I surprised even myself.

After I had done the 10k I wanted to look for a new goal, so I decided to try for a half marathon. I took the plunge and entered the Chester Half in May 2013.

For some extra motivation with my training I decided to try to raise some money for a local charity. I looked at a few but chose Stay Telford as I like and believe in what they do, so I was happy when I not only competed my first half marathon but also I raised over £500 for them!

Making friends

My running kept progressing and a few people on Facebook asked if anyone wanted to meet up to run together.

In Lawley there were a few of us in the same situation so we started meeting up and running as a group. Our running group become more and more popular, and as more people joined us I noticed that I seemed to be one who organised the routes!

In 2012 our group of runners formed a committee and worked with England Athletics to get our group turned into a club so that everyone who ran with us was insured and safe.

This was a bit of a nightmare at first but we got there in the end, and myself and one other went and got qualified as run leaders. We officially became Lawley Running Club -if you skip forward to today, we have 24 run leaders and about 250 members!

In Autumn 2014 I was chatting to my friend, Chris Richards, who was keen to install a defibrillator in Telford Town Park. We decided on a challenge to raise the money needed and came up with the idea of running 3 marathons in 2 months (43 days). I thought it would be easy, and if anything, would help me lose a bit more weight.

It was April 2015 that I ran Blackpool marathon, with a time of 4:01- this was brilliant! Two weeks later I did Milton Keynes marathon in 4:11, and finally the Liverpool marathon.

Andy beats his personal best with a lady from Southampton
Andy beats his personal best with a lady from Southampton

It was hot but I had the best run. I was chatting (as much as I could manage when running and exhausted) to a lady from Southampton when she tripped on a step. Luckily I caught her, so she was ok, and we stuck together for the rest of the race.

Her goal was to achieve 4 hours which was a secret goal of mine too! At mile 24 I was struggling but she refused to let me stop to walk. Her support really helped and we both crossed the line in 3:55!

While all this was going on Telford Parkrun was in the planning stages, and I was helping to set it up. Personally I believe the parkrun is one of the reasons I have kept a lot of my weight off- meeting weekly with like-minded people and enjoying the run.

Make the change you want to make

My advice to anyone thinking of making a change is that if I can do it – anyone can. And I mean that!

If you find it hard to motivate yourself on your own, join a Couch to 5K group like we have at Lawley Running Club, which is designed to help even the most unfit people start running until they can do a 5k. I would also recommend Telford Parkrun for a fun and friendly Saturday morning walk or run around the park.

My weight started off on the 1st August 2011 at 19stone 11 lb. After the first year of exercising more and being conscious of my diet I weighed 16 stone, and in August 2013 I reached my goal weight of 13 stone. I do eat healthily now but still like a treat, so my weight has balanced out at about 14 stone.

If you want to make a change you can do it. There are lot’s of people out there that can help you make the change you want to make.

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