An overweight butcher says he’s healing himself after suffering two “near death” experiences thanks to a life-changing TV show.
Before taking part in FFIT Cymru on S4C Matthew Rees, 46, tipped the scales at 26 stone and he described his new fitness and eating regime as a “gamechanger”, with his weight dropping to 22 stone 7lbs.
His current good health is in stark contrast to his condition four years ago when he had sepsis and had to undergo emergency treatment in hospital.
Matthew then had a clot on the lungs following a Covid-19 infection in 2020 and was taken to hospital by his sister Rachel.
Doctors told him that he wouldn’t have survived if he’d waited for an ambulance.
He said: “Some people came out of hospital feeling like I’ve had a second chance. I went the other way and enjoyed drinking and eating. I put on more than five stone since being ill. That had to stop and I need to sort myself out and be there for the family.
Along with fellow leader Dylan Parry, a chapel minister from Bridgend, he was initially banned from running by FFIT Cymru experts because of their concerns for his health but he managed to run the 5K parkrun in Bala.
“During the last few weeks I have had the confidence to exercise, I was afraid to go out for a run but now I have the confidence to push myself. FFIT Cymru’s been a game changer, I’m healing myself,” he said.
Married to Lydia, the couple have four children between them and Matthew, a former rugby player who now coaches youngsters, was keen to take to the field once again.
“At 46 that’s not going to happen regularly but there’s on old boys game in Nant Garedig on New Years Day and I might turn out for five minutes or so,” he said.
Matthew’s father, Chris, works with him at the family butcher’s stall in Carmarthen market. He said: “I see him getting better every day, some of the clothes he wears are hanging on him now.”
And his mum, Ann, added: “I’m very proud, it’s been a long journey and there’s still a journey in front of him but he’s coming through a very tough period.”
One of the show’s experts, Love Island star Connagh Howard, told Matthew now had the lung capacity of a 45-year-old and surprised him by showing how much weight he had lost by revealing four large pieces of ham.
“This is what you were carrying around with you before FFIT Cymru started,” he said.
Matthew and Dylan Parry were joined in the series by Andrea Davies-Tuthill, a hospital theatre nurse from Merthyr Tydfil; Linette Gwilym, 33, a social worker from Llanrug near Caernarfon, and Kelly O’Donnell, a teaching assistant from Bethel near Caernarfon;.
Series producer Siwan Haf said: “We are thrilled that all our leaders have made such fantastic progress in getting their health back on track.
“We’ll meet up with them again in six months time. The aim now is for them to continue with their new, healthier lifestyles so that they can continue to make become even healthier.
“I also want to pay tribute to Lisa Gwilym and our experts who have guided and inspired them every step of the way on this journey.”
She added FFIT Cymru is able to offer support to everyone and viewers can take part at home too by following the special food and fitness plans online on the FFIT Cymru website, www.s4c.cymru/ffitcymru, and on social media @ffitcymru for free.
The FFIT Cymru series can be seen on S4C Clic, BBC iPlayer and other streaming platforms as a box set. English subtitles are available.