An overweight chapel minister who tipped the scales at 26 stone says that a new eating and fitness regime saved his life.
The Rev Dylan Parry, who hails from Caernarfon, was one of the stars of a life-changing TV show, FFIT Cymru, on S4C.
Dylan admitted at the start of the series, made by Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da, that he had an unhealthy relationship with food and hated to look at himself in the mirror.
According to the 34-year-old, he had never known a time when he had been healthy and had been diagnosed with sleep apnoea.
But after seven weeks of detailed advice and support on diet and exercise on FFIT Cymru, Dylan has lost more than three stone in weight and says he is in a much happier state of mind about himself.
He said: “Without a doubt FFIT Cymru has saved my life. If I had carried on as I was before there was no future for me.
“I have thanked everyone who has helped and supported me in the past few weeks. They have brought me back from the edge and their hard work has given me the tools to carry on and change the course of my life.
“I feel great, it’s a nice feeling.
“Before I would avoid looking at myself in the mirror but I’ve spent hours doing just that today. I’m so happy in myself, a hundred times better than I was at the start of this journey.
“I have formed a new relationship with food and have come to a new place with fitness too. And although it is hard work you reap what you sow.. Then there’s your mental health, I couldn’t thank the experts enough for the tools I needed to do this.”
He added the fridge at his home has seen a makeover and no longer stores chocolate eclairs and sugary energy drinks.
During the series Dylan underwent tests for diabetes and was surprised when they proved negative,
“The test showed my blood-sugar levels were well within the normal range. I didn’t expect that and I put that down to FFIT Cymru,” he said.
Dylan, who now lives in Bridgend looks after two chapels, one in Bridgend and the other in Porthcawl, said the members had been hugely supportive and had enthusiastically joined in his fitness regime.
“Meeting members socially after services or in their homes is a big part of the work. They no longer offer me biscuits and such like and we have started a Wednesday evening walk. We have started a conversation where there hadn’t been a conversation previously,” he said.
In addition to the weight loss the FFIT Cymru experts found his visceral fat levels – also known as ‘hidden’ fat that’s stored deep inside the body and wrapped around organs including the liver and intestines – had been reduced by 13%.
Personal trainer Rae Carpenter said: “This has been reduced in just seven weeks, just think what you can achieve in the next six months and beyond.
Meanwhile, psychologist Dr Ioan Rees said Dylan’s initial psychological score, measured just before the series started, stood at 44%.
“The same test now shows a score of 87% showing the effect of food and fitness on the brain in such a short time,” he said.
The other experts on FFIT Cymru are dietician Beca Lyne-Pirkis and new to the team this year, former Love Island contestant and online motivator Connagh Howard. Both were equally congratulatory of Dylan’s efforts and achievements during the series.
The programme is presented by Lisa Gwilym who gave an emotional Dylan a big hug at the end of the final programme.
Dylan’s parents, Edwina and Dick, said they were delighted with his efforts.
Dick said: “He’s a completely different boy, we’re with him all the way.”
With a quarter of the Welsh population believed to be overweight, taking care of health is more important than ever.
Over eight episodes in April and May the FFIT Cymru series shared positive and inspirational ideas with the nation with the five leaders transforming their health by following bespoke fitness and food plans set by the programme’s four experts.
Dylan was joined in the series by Matthew Rees, 46, butcher from Carmarthen; 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;.
Mum of three Linette Gwilym, from Llanrug near Caernarfon, wanted to be “healthy and happy” after an anxious period when her youngest son Ifan was found to have cancerous tumours on both kidneys.
She was keen to get fit again in case the four year old needed her help in the future.
“It’s like a cycle of self-loathing. I’ve always been positive and I want that back,” she said at the start of the FFIT Cymru series.
After two months of hard work and sticking to the fitness and dietary regime, Linette lost two stone and 11 pounds.
Smiling broadly during the final programme Linette said: “I feel like a million dollars. I’m so much lighter and I feel a lot like my old self. I’m doing the things I’ve not been doing for a long time and enjoying life now. I’m enjoying the things that are free around us like walking, running and going to the lake enjoy. We’re enjoying ourselves and making time for each other.”
Husband Iolo said: “I can’t believe how well she’s done even though I knew you’d do it. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you.”
Parents Dafydd and Lynne were equally impressed. Lynne said: “She’s done marvellously well, I’m so very proud of her. We want her to be healthy and have a long happy life with the boys and Iolo.”
The five leaders formed a close bond between them creating a group on social media and are already planning further activities such as scaling Yr Wyddfa and possibly going white water rafting.
At the start of the series they set themselves a personal target of collectively losing as much weight as Kelly, the lightest member of the group, weighed at the start of FFIT Cymru.
She weighed 12 stone 5Ibs and the five leaders lost a total of 12st 6lbs thereby beating that target!
Kelly, a mum of four from Bethel near Caernarfon, suffered the tragic loss of her husband from cancer and hoped FFIT Cymru would “make her feel happy inside” again.
During the FFIT Cymru series Kelly lost one stone nine pounds and sharpened her fitness to such an extent she recorded a personal best time during the 5K run at Bala. Personal trainer Rae Carpenter said her fitness level was of someone in her early 30s.
The 41-year-old teaching assistant said after husband Rory’s death eating had taken over from exercise.
“My relationship with food was not good but I’m in such different place to where I was now. I wasn’t happy inside but people thought I was happy all the time. I think I am stronger as a person now.
“FFIT Cymru has given me a chance to be me once again. A small step has turned into a giant one and I haven’t reached where I want to be even though I still have a way to go but I feel on top of the world,” she said.
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.