Matthew Rees, 46, from Carmarthen, was one of the stars of the FFIT Cymru series on S4C, which he described as a “gamechanger”.
He left his job as an accountant to run the family’s butcher’s shop in Carmarthen market but piled on the weight in the last six years after two serious illnesses.
After suffering sepsis four years ago, he had a clot on his lung in 2020 following a Covid-19 infection and was taken to hospital by his sister, Rachel.
Doctors told him he would not have survived if he had waited for an ambulance.
At the start of the series, Matthew weighed 26st 1lbs and six months later, despite a summer ‘wobble’, now weighs 23st 5lbs, a loss of more than two stone.
Matthew revealed his progress in a special catch-up programme, FFIT Cymru 2023 – 6 Mis Wedyn (FFIT Cymru 2023 – 6 Months After).
He said: “People who have a near-death experience come from the hospital as if they have had a second chance but I went the other way and enjoyed drinking and eating. I had to sort myself out, turn the corner and go back to where I was and better.
“FFIT Cymru has given me the confidence to do things I know I can do. I’ve come a long way and learned to trust my body again.
“After being on FFIT Cymru I have the confidence to go out and promote the business.
“We’ve opened a new shop, a deli in Carmarthen market where we sell food items from across Wales.
“I’ve taken our own Carmarthen ham to food festivals and at the Abergavenny Food Festival in September we got best in show! That comes from the confidence I’ve had by going through the FFIT Cymru process.”
Before taking part in the series, Matthew didn’t feel fit enough to coach the junior Nantgaredig rugby and football teams.
He said the other coaches were running after the children while he just stood on the sidelines. But now Matthew says he is much more active.
“Because I am fitter and trust myself more with my body after FFIT Cymru I can be more involved with the boys on the rugby field. Instead of shouting from the side I am more involved and can show them what to doing rather than saying means a lot to them,” he said.
“During the series the motivation was there but I’m back in real life now so I have to motivate myself and keep myself in check.
“I now know what needs to be done in order to improve myself again. It’s a little switch and FFIT Cymru have shown me where that switch is. I’ll switch it on and be back on track again,” he said.
Cwmni Da producer Caryl Burke said the sixth series of FFIT Cymru had been very successful.
She said: “The five individuals who took part did so for very different reasons. Some wanted to lose weight and get fit while others wanted to regain fitness or to get assistance with restoring their confidence levels.
“We’re pleased all of them managed to attain their goals within the seven week series and have gone on to maintain or improve on their goals since then.
“We wish them all the very best in the future,” she said.
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