A 26-stone man who was ‘eating himself to death’ by scoffing 35 Double Deckers a week has shed 11 stone in a year to try to become a professional boxer.
Tobie Vermeire, from Malvern Hills, Worcester, had always struggled with his weight but knew something had to change when he was so obese he ‘couldn’t put his socks on’.
‘Food addict’ Vermeire regularly found himself devouring a four-pack of the Cadbury’s chocolate bars with lunch and sometimes more in the morning and evening, WalesOnline reports.
The then insurance broker was left ‘shocked and embarrassed’ to discover his weight was 26 stone, and decided to turn his life around.
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Embarking on a fitness journey in September 2020, Tobie ditched the Double Deckers and fast food, and reconnected with an old love – boxing.
Starting out wearing XXXL clothes and a waist measuring 46 inches, It was a tough journey for Vermeire, who claims he was ‘addicted to calories, grease, fast food’.
After just over a year of training and dieting, the motorbike salesman has lost more than 11 stone but has set his sights on turning professional as a boxer by the end of this year.
Tobie said: “I’ve always had a real issue with food. It was a comfort thing for me growing up and it continued through my adult life.
“When I was 18, I was playing rugby at a reasonable level but whenever I got an injury and couldn’t play, I was still eating as if I was training. I just got bigger and bigger.
“Around 25 I decided to focus on my career but this meant I let my health get even worse. I ballooned from 18 stone up to 26 stone. I couldn’t put my own socks on.”
Despite playing rugby for his county up until he was 20, as his weight grew Tobie decided to drop down the levels so he didn’t have to focus on training.
Tobie said: “With rugby, I was playing at a decent standard but instead of keeping up my fitness, as my weight ballooned I just decided to drop down the levels so I didn’t have to try hard.
“I was playing rugby at 26 stone but just playing at a very low level so I didn’t have to train. I would turn up when I was massive and still manage to do a job.
“It wasn’t good for my health and meant I was injury-prone. I just kept eating like I was playing even when I was hurt so the weight piled on.”
Deciding to focus on his insurance broker job, Tobie paid even less attention to his health and his daily diet saw him consuming up to 10,000 calories a day while he continued his desk job.
A regular day of food for Tobie would see him chow down on two Domino’s pizzas at lunch with a four-pack of Double Deckers, before having a large takeaway every evening.
Each bar contains a whopping 30g of sugar meaning the 29-year-old was consuming a kilo of sugar a week from his Double Decker habit alone.
He added to his 10,000-calorie per day intake by chomping through sausages, eggs and bacon for breakfast every morning, a tube of Pringles, two Domino’s pizzas for lunch and a Chinese takeaway for his dinner – along with more snacks.
Tobie said: “I was a food addict. It was the only drive or pleasure in my life outside of working so food was my getaway.
“I was at work one day and they brought the scales out for everyone to check their weight. I thought I was going to be 21 stone and that I was just a few weeks off the weight I had been previously.
“When I stepped on them, I was 26 stone and I was just so embarrassed about how big I had become. I was wearing XXXL clothes and had a 46-inch waist so I was massive.
“I started to get really ill – I was fatigued, couldn’t get out of bed, constantly had headaches. I was tested for diabetes and thyroid problems but it turned out to be the physical signs of depression.”
Having considered weight loss surgery initially, Tobie decided on putting in the hard work to lose the weight naturally and went cold turkey on his favorite foods.
Tobie said: “I had to treat it like a drug addiction and go teetotal on most of the foods I’d eaten before, so no chocolate, takeaways or crisps.
“I felt awful at first, really ill. I was having withdrawal symptoms for the first few weeks, which was me coming off the copious amounts of processed foods and chocolate I’d been used to.
“I was addicted to calories, grease, fast food, the whole lot. My diet was abysmal so I had to change.
“If I hadn’t, I think I’d have eaten myself to death. I’d like to think I’ve added 10 to 15 years on to my life by reversing the years of destructive eating.”
To keep his diet on track, Tobie set himself a lofty goal and turned to boxing having fought in white-collar bouts previously with the aim of turning professional.
Tobie said: “There and then I decided I had to make a change and grab life by the horns.
“Rugby wasn’t inspiring me anymore so I knew I had to try something different. I needed a new challenge to get me out of bed and keep me driven.
“I’ve always been a boxing fan and I decided I needed to set myself a goal that kept me on track. I decided to train to become a pro.
“I looked for help from a few people but I realized I had to do it myself. Once I’d lost a little bit of weight and gained confidence, I joined a boxing gym and started working by myself on the heavy bags.
“It has just snowballed from there. I’ve had a couple of amateur fights since covid restrictions have been loosened and I’ve been sparring regularly with experienced pros.”
As a way of keeping himself accountable, Tobie set up an Instagram and TikTok page called Obese2Boxer, and now tips the scales at just under 15 stone.
Tobie said: “I’ve never been happier. This is how I should have felt at 18 or 19 which has given me a whole new lease of life.
“The only thing that I feel which is slightly negative is that I didn’t do it earlier. I feel bad that I let it get to the worst and didn’t change my life sooner.
“It’s been a huge year of change. It’s helped my mental health massively too. I left my job as an insurance broker to start selling motorbikes as I’ve always loved them.
“I need to get some more fights under my belt before I can go pro as well as sorting some sponsorship for travel.
“I was meant to be fighting at the end of January but that has been delayed as I have had covid. We’re looking to get as many fights in as possible this season.”
Before diet – 8-10,000 calories a day
- Breakfast baguette with sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, the works
- Snacking on chocolate bars, crisps + 2 energy drinks
- Lunch – 2 x personal pizzas from Dominos + 4 pack of chocolate bars ie Double Deckers
- Afternoon snack – tube of Pringles
- Dinner – Takeaway for example, special chow mein, chicken balls, beef curry, fried rice
- Evening snack – Tub of Ben & Jerry’s + family size chocolate bar ie Galaxy or Dairy Milk
After Diet – 2,000 calories a day
- Breakfast – black coffee and porridge with half a protein bar
- Lunch – rice cakes, fruit, boiled eggs, protein bar
- Dinner – Homemade lamb or beef curry with cauliflower rice or a nice piece of fish. Jacket potato if training the next day
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.