LOCAL mental health campaigner Mark Moran rose to my challenge to improve his health by shedding two-and-a-half stones in just three months.
Mark who runs RISE Warrington, approached me for some advice on how promote his charitable group and get the message across to people in Warrington on how just a chat and a cuppa can usually help with their mental fitness.
Mark takes up his story: “I met with Gary, to ask for a few pointers on how we take things forward. A couple of coffees and a bacon butty later Gary came up with a grand idea” Mark stated worryingly. “How about you do a challenge ? You do so much good in Warrington, we want you around a lot longer. I challenge you to reduce your weight and take up running in the Parkrun !”
Mark’s worries were confirmed, “Me, run, exercise, really? I haven’t run any distance since I did cross country in 1990.” “I’ll be with you,” Gary supportively said. “it’s more about mind over matter, you can do it with me behind you … I believe in you!”
So the “3 stone in 3 months (and run the Parkrun) challenge had been set. Mark’s starting weight was 21st 1lb.
Mark launched the challenge on the 6th January 2020, by the end of that week he had completed his first Parkrun. Following the Couch to 5k program, he walked and jogged around the course in a time of just over 50 minutes.
As he progressed for some reason the time was going worse, not better. By this time, he had been diagnosed with Phase 2 degenerative discs in his lower back. The pain was just too much as he crossed the line for his 3rd Parkrun that he broke into tears saying “I’m a failure, even my body is saying No!”
Mark has Bipolar 1 and BPD; this set back knocked Mark’s confidence along with other issues. So much so he endured an episode of low mood for approximately two weeks which lead to some risky behaviour. “I was just not good enough!” Mark slammed. Both Gary and Mark’s family supported him through this period and he started to return to walking and cycling to keep the pain off the back.
Mark became determined to make up the time and was more active than ever! The healthy eating was going well to and the weight continued to reduce. However, he was put on new medication for the pain and this medication caused weight gain. Mark kept positive accepting that this could happen and used it to drive him forward further.
Now at the end of the three months … Mark’s target was 18st 1lb … his final recorded weight … 18st … 91/2lb! “Its certainly not about the target,” Mark explained, “this was all about the overall experience.”
He shared his story via zoom with a few of the people who has supported him and the charity. A buoyant Mark relayed what the whole challenge has meant to him.
“The fact I didn’t meet my target is my first reason to continue with the new way of living. The two-week depressive episode was the shortest episode I have had in my 26 years’ experience of having mental health issues. The though of letting people down was immense, I never understood why would people who invest their time in me. With all this negativity Mark turned them into a positive.
“Running the Parkrun gave me my very first automatic thought. I was at the 4k marker of my 4th run and I spotted a name road I knew. I was all ready to veer off course and get a lift back when a little voice stated “You are only fooling yourself you know, you have done 4km and now you are giving up with 1km to go?” I completed the race and even though my time was worse than the week before … I listened and it worked!”
Not only did he turn around the negative, he revelled in the positives to. “its not 3 stones but nearly 2 ½ stone will do for me, especially as I’m carrying on … I’ve lost 4 inches on my waist too.”
“Gary sent me a side challenge to decrease my time by 30 seconds each week. Well, even though it can be said that may not be as expected but I reduced my time be 6 minutes overall so over 12 weeks, that’s 30 seconds a week in my book!” Mark smiled.
He added: “I never believed that exercise makes you feel better mentally, now I can say it does without a shadow of a doubt. I feel better than I have in a long time, I am healthier and fitter. Even my face is thinner; all of this has led to me to think I will stay alive longer, being more active has also led me to getting involved with the family more, it makes me feel worthwhile from time to time.
“Finally, I would like to say thank you to all those who have supported me, also to those who have sponsored me. This has helped us raise £105 for the organisation with a promise of more contributions. Also, thanks go to all those who attended the virtual reveal meeting today, with special thanks to Gary for all his constant support and being there above and beyond; more than anything I love my family and it’s been amazing that they have been with me every step and stumble along the way.”
Donations can be made to support Mark’s work tackling mental health issues here CLICK HERE