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He ain’t heavy, he’s my father: Dad sheds half his weight after son encourages him to join martial arts group

© Andrew Cawley / DCT MediaShane Saunders with his his son, Kaven
Shane Saunders with his his son, Kaven

A dad says he is fighting fit after losing almost half his bodyweight when his son talked him into joining his martial arts club.

Shane Saunders, 29, struggled with his weight for most of his life. At his heaviest he weighed 20 stone – caused by an unhealthy diet of junk food and a takeaway every night.

He’d lost his confidence, couldn’t play with his children for more than 10 minutes without losing his breath and would avoid going out because he didn’t want people to see him.

He also couldn’t bear to look at photos of himself, including snaps of his cherished wedding day.

The dad of three, from Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire, hated his body so much he would shun buying new clothes and was becoming a recluse.

However, all that changed when his eldest son Kaven, nine, talked him into joining the karate club he had been going to.

Shy Shane, who had briefly joined a karate club as a teen but left within months, rediscovered his love of martial arts.

Alongside training, he started following a Slimming World diet plan and saw the weight fall off.

© Andrew Cawley / DCT Media
A spar in the garden

Shane said: “In primary school I was relatively fat and then when I was about 16 or 17 I started eating what I wanted, got lazy and it spiralled from there.

“I got married and when I looked back at the wedding photos I thought, ‘I’m crazy big’.

“I would play with the kids for 15 minutes and then need to sit down.

“I never really wanted to go anywhere because of my lack of confidence.

“I didn’t like going on days out with my kids. I was too lazy to do anything. It was having an impact on my family life.”

However all that changed thanks to son Kaven.

Shane said: “My wee boy started going to karate and wanted me to go along. I used to do karate when I was 13 but I only did it for six months. Kaven kept asking me to go back so eventually I went.

“I loved being back in training and now I’m lighter than I’ve ever been as an adult.” Shane soon found his martial arts skills were better suited to kickboxing and so joined nearby club Cold Fury Kickboxing Academy in Dumfries.

And despite almost passing out during his first intensive training session, he has since gone on to win two national trophies in the sport.

He said: “It felt great to be winning. I was so nervous to even do it because I had only been training for four or five months before I competed so everything was new to me.”

Now, less than two years since his weight loss journey began, Shane weighs just over 11 stone and is more confident and fitter than ever.

Wife Nicolle, 27, said he is a changed man.

© Andrew Cawley / DCT Media
Kaven with one of his dad’s old shirts

“It was Kaven that inspired Shane to go back,” she said. “He is a lot more confident now. They do wee routines together.”

The whole family took part in a trek up Ben Nevis to raise £1,200 for the National Autistic Society – a charity close to their heart given the couple’s other son Miller, seven, is autistic and deaf.

And that’s not the only activity the Saunders do together.

The whole family, including three-year-old daughter Alleah, follow the routines in fitness videos together most days and take regular walks.

Shane said he couldn’t have done it without the love of Nicolle who prepares most of the family’s healthy meals and has supported him every step of the way.

He is looking to progress further in martial arts and won’t go back to his junk food ways.

“Days away with the family are so much better,” he said.

“We go for walks and I play with the kids. I feel like I don’t have to cover up when I go places.”