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How I went from playing PC games 12 hours a day to a budding triathlete

By making small changes in his lifestyle, local resident Shane is managing to turn his life around.

Shane Sissions 1200x675.png

By making small changes in his lifestyle, local resident Shane is managing to turn his life around.

By Shane Sissons – a local Telford resident

For a long time I was content with my lifestyle. I drank 2-4 litres of fizzy drinks a day, I would smoke 20-30 cigarettes, and I snacked excessively on the wrong foods.

The most physical activity I did was to walk to the local shop to fuel my addictions (caffeine, nicotine and online gaming), because that’s what they were – addictions.

My daily routine was to wake up, turn on the PC to play games, and I would sit there until I wanted to sleep.

My sleep pattern was broken. Every day I would wake up and go to sleep around 2 hours later than the day before.

This meant that for about 2 years I didn’t have any social life outside of a computer screen.

Relationships between friends and family had broken down, I didn’t speak to people and I didn’t go out. I just didn’t know if I would be awake or not. My online life was always there, so I spent 10-12 hours a day gaming instead.

Taking control of me

I had been trying to cut down my smoking for a long time, I knew I was causing harm but I was addicted to it. I reckon I spent 2-3 hours a day with a cigarette in my hand.

To try to understand the frame of mind I was in, if I only had £20 to last me a week for food I would go to the shop to buy tobacco, then come home and work out how I’m going to eat for the week. Tobacco was at the top of my list of priorities.

But one day I realised that I lost the enjoyment smoking had given me. I kept smoking for the next day or two but I realised that I didn’t need it anymore.

Until this happened I had always failed at quitting because deep down I still wanted to smoke. That day I stopped fighting myself.

At the same time I also gave up caffeine. To put this into perspective I’ve had a caffeine addiction for about 10 years and my parents tried to stop me drinking coke when I was younger.

Shane's last ever coke zero
Shane’s last coke zero

Looking back, I’m ashamed of the person I became when I wasn’t drinking coke or when people tried to stop me from drinking it.

I still have the 1.5l bottle of coke zero half empty on top of my kitchen cupboard as a reminder that I didn’t need to isolate myself from my problems. I have been caffeine free for a year and it’s only been the past few months that I have drank it again at a friend’s house if they don’t have decaf tea, which is what I normally drink at home.

The will power I had on that day changed how I look at problems and subliminally it had shown me that I can be in control of who I am – that was the tipping point. This is when I really started to turn my life around and started to live a healthier life.

Losing weight

My weight had ballooned over 2017 from 150kg to 172kg over the course of a year. This was because I was comfort eating 2-3 hours a day instead of smoking.

I was still unaware of my size increase until one day I sat on the toilet, looked down at my belly and I was disgusted. I hadn’t looked at myself for so long and I couldn’t believe what I had become. I wanted to change but I didn’t know how.

I looked for a quick fix that didn’t need any effort, so I went to Google and I thought I had stumbled across the miracle drug “orlistat.” Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.

Having unsuccessfully found an easy way to lose weight I went back to my doctor and said that I was ready to accept help from the Healthy Lifestyles service.

I had been offered the service many times before but I had refused, I believed the service would be a shambles. I didn’t want someone telling me what I can and can’t do but I had to swallow my pride and accept the help.

To my surprise the first meeting was great. I didn’t feel like I was being judged and I started to open up. I was honest with myself and with the Healthy Lifestyles Advisor Katie, which was a key moment.

For the first time I accepted that I needed to change the way I ate and through initial regular meetings we talked about food and exercise. I was doing great at substituting unhealthy foods for better alternatives and I was slowly losing weight.

We spoke about exercise and the plan was to do one hour a week on a treadmill. But I couldn’t do it, I hated the idea of exercise.

Exercising and socialising

My sleeping was still a mess and I had woken up at about 4am on a Saturday. For no particular reason I decided that I might like to go swimming.

I checked the timetable and there was a morning session 6:30am. I went along for about 3 weeks, every day I met new people and chatted with them in the morning while waiting for the session to start.

This is where I met Tony Bray. He was training to swim the channel but every day he gave up his time to help me to learn to swim again as I hadn’t swam for a while.

Since I started swimming my normal sleeping pattern has returned and I can socialise more easily.

At this point one of my old friends asked me a question – “have you considered doing a triathlon?”

This question has changed my life. Immediately, I started looking into how to do it and remembered that someone called Alison, who I swam with in the mornings, was a triathlete. She pointed me in the direction of “Telford Triathlon Club.”

I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve anything.

A triathlon is a three-part race where you swim, cycle, and then run. When I joined the club I didn’t have a bike or anything really. I just jumped into the deep end and set my path. Joining Telford Triathlon Club has been great. I now have a network of people to train with who make exercising fun.

I took part in my first triathlon on 8 July 2018 where the distance was a 250m swim, 12km cycle and a 1.6km run. If I have tried this two months earlier I would be struggling to breathe after walking 200 meters.

Shane Sissions reaching the finishing line
Shane reaching the finishing line

My goal was to complete the race in one hour. Near the end I looked at my watch and saw that I had just 2 minutes to reach the finish and hit my goal. I ran as fast as I could, I gave it everything.

When I crossed the line my time was 59:33. I felt euphoric, especially considered where I was only two months before.

Keeping on working towards those goals

I am now training for a 10km run on 23 September and a sprint triathlon (400m swim, 27km cycle, 6.5km run) on 30 September. I am thinking of running a marathon and a half Ironman triathlon for 2019.

Since May this year I haven’t gone more than two days without exercise. I never want to go back to the person I used to be.

I have changed my degree to be 50% sport and fitness. I want a career where I can help others in the same situation as I was.

My journey has made me realise that nothing is impossible and that the only thing stopping you is yourself.

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There are days when I want to give up, and days when I struggle to choose the healthy options, but I keep trying because the only way I can fail is if I stop trying. Even if I go backwards it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that I don’t stop.

My current weight loss is 14kg with an estimated fat loss of 19kg using body fat percentages to workout fat loss. (Muscle gain has reduced overall weight loss!) Currently I can jog 3.5miles, cycle 36 miles and my longest swim is 3km and I’m pushing these limits every day.

I was asked what I would tell people in similar situations. Never give up! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something! Whatever your goal is keep working towards it and ask for help. There is support out there for anything and everything, the worst that will happen is that the help doesn’t work and you’re in the same place as before, you haven’t lost out on anything and you can then say at least you tried that solution.

Healthy Lifestyles service

A team of Healthy Lifestyle Advisers are available to help you make the healthy change you want to make with free advice that’s based around you, and your needs.

They helped me, and they can help you too.

Drop in to Southwater 1 from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday to see an advisor.

Or you can contact the team and book an appointment.

Telephone – 01952 382582
Email – healthylifestyles@telford.gov.uk

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