Pulling out my husband’s XXXXXXL T-shirt from our 15th laundry load of the week, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I thought of the lanky teen I’d fallen in love with all those years ago.
Tom and I met at a music festival when we were 17. He was proudly walking around with his top off – which was a little strange, really, as Scotland is rarely hot.
Now 27, and with a rigorous 30-hour gym routine in place and the World’s Strongest Man title under his belt, Tom looks poles apart from the young lad I knew back in 2012.
But it’s not just Tom’s physique that has transformed over the years, my whole life has changed to adapt to the strongman lifestyle.
After swapping numbers at the festival, things happened quite quickly between us. Tom basically came round once to my parents’ house and never left.
We’d only been together a year when he came back from the gym smelling like tires. When I asked why he said, “Because I’m going to be the World’s Strongest Man.” He’d been flipping them as part of his initial training of him. He was hooked.
Roksana Ulas Photography)
It was tough because I suddenly stopped seeing him as much. In the daytime we were both working – he was a fencer, and I was a trainee support worker, and he was at the gym in the evenings.
We’d both get frustrated because we missed each other. He’d go mad at me over little things, like leaving my dinner bowl out. Tom has autism, so he has to have things done a certain way and it can be intense.
We loved each other a lot, though, and soon Tom proposed. We were meant to be going on a weekend away together – something we’d never really done, as usually the only time we stayed away was for competitions – but my work decided they couldn’t let me have time off.
Tom insisted that we still went for a local walk, and I was annoyed because it was pouring with rain. Then, he got down on one knee with a ring and I screamed, before asking if he’d checked with my dad. When he confirmed that he had, I said yes!
making it work
We got married 14 months later on 19 September 2015. We were both just 21, so it wasn’t a very extravagant day.
Tom was working at Morrisons and doing some security work at this point. I was now a qualified support worker so it was my wage that paid for almost everything. That didn’t matter to us, though – we had the best day ever at a local hall.
Soon after our wedding, Tom came home from work early and said, “I’ve quit.” It was almost Christmas so I thought it was a crazy decision. I was concerned about how we were going to pay the rent and for the increasing food bill on one income.
He said to me, “I promise you this will all work out.”
I said, “OK, but you’re going to be in charge of keeping the house clean.” I have accepted my terms.
He did get sponsorships, which helped us a lot in the early days – the best being from the local butchers. They send us two months’ worth of meat at a time, which fills up our two freezers.
Although sometimes it doesn’t even last that long as Tom eats so much more in the fortnight before a competition.
Tom’s dream finally came true in June last year, when he won the World’s Strongest Man title.
“We did it, baby. World’s Strongest Man!” Tom shouted down the phone to me from California. I knew he was going to win, but I still instantly burst into tears of joy and relief.
Due to Covid-19 I had to stay behind at home in the Scottish Highlands, which was tough, but he kept me updated throughout the six days with texts and calls.
For the final, each competitor had to lift giant stones, weighing between 140-210kg, onto raised platforms in the fastest time.
He’d handed his phone to an older man who video-called me so I could watch the action live. But the phone was on selfie mode so he recorded his own belly instead of Tom! I was screaming, “Turn the camera around!”
While Tom may have been in America without me, both of us had put our heart and soul into preparing for his competitions.
I’m the cook of our household. Even just for breakfast he has 10 fried eggs, two rashers of bacon, mushrooms and four pieces of toast.
For lunch and dinner it was dry meat and rice constantly, but now we have a nutritionist who allows things like turkey mince with tomato sauce, or a chicken curry. To minimize my time in the kitchen I eat the same food, just a lot smaller portions!
I have also hired a psychologist. He learned how to manage his feelings about him better, and it has transformed our marriage. Before, I felt like I was walking on glass, waiting for it to break. Now, he can turn on his strongman persona in the gym, and then be my Tom at home.
He’s so thoughtful
I get him at his most chilled out and thoughtful. He brings flowers home and he’ll pick up on any little detail.
I say, “I need to get my nails done,” and the next minute he’s booked me a salon appointment. I got very lucky. People know Tom for his body, but he has a wonderful mind.
We are at our happiest when we’re out walking our dogs, sitting on the sofa watching a movie, or going to support our football team Rangers. Although, he usually gets bombarded by fans and I’m basically a professional photographer at this point.
He’s a hero now, but to me we’re just a couple trying to spend time together, so it can be frustrating. Even if they don’t know who he is, we often get attention with our size difference – he’s 6ft 9in and I’m 5ft.
It’s a full-time job being his wife, and I’ve gone part-time at work to accommodate that. The laundry alone keeps me busy with all his workout clothes from him. I am partly to blame as I wear them, too, as they are so big and cosy.
Sometimes I’m even a weight for him! We’ll be in bed, and one minute I’m laying down and the next minute I’m in the air and he’s doing reps with me.
He does like to cuddle so I’m often quite squashed, but 10 years down the line I’m used to it! I’m more exhausted after competitions than Tom.
He can sleep and eat fine, but I work myself up so much that I can’t sleep or stomach food, I feel sick and I’m so tense
I’m aching for days afterwards.
Our next big goal is to have children. If they turn to me one day and say, “I’d like to be a strongman like Dad,” then I’ll probably reply, “Is there nothing else you want to do that’s a little easier on us all?”
The world’s strongest man in stats
£200 The cost of a weekly grocery shop
350g meat per meal
10 eggs per day
XXXXXXL size clothing
30 hours a week in the gym
fifteen loads of laundry per week