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If you had told Matt McIntyre 2 years ago that he would be competing in a 226 kilometre Iron Man race, he would have laughed.
At 148kg, McIntyre was clinically obese, and described himself as “heart attack material”.
It wasn’t something that bothered him, until a doctor said he was guaranteed to become diabetic if nothing changed.
“When the doctor told me within three months I’ll be a diabetic, I said I’ve got three months to change,” McIntyre said.
After finding that the most scientifically effective way to permanently lose dramatic amounts of weight was weight loss surgery, he decided that the gastric band was for him and set out to fight the onset of diabetes and obesity.
Within just a couple of months, he had lost enough weight so that he was no longer pre-diabetic.
In the 2 years since his surgery, McIntyre, who is now 37, has dropped to 88kg: just 60% of his previous weight.
Now, he’s attempting to reach the pinnacle of fitness by competing in the Western Australia’s Iron Man race in December.
The gruelling competition usually takes 8.5-11 hours to finish, with athletes following a 226km course of swimming, cycling and running in sweltering summer conditions.
It’s a challenge that the old Matt would never have imagined taking on, according to McIntyre.
“(Before surgery) I couldn’t stand it (running),” he said. “I found it a lot easier to lie on the lounge and eat a pack of Tim-Tams.”
His love affair with long distance runs started with 5 kilometre fun runs, which quickly snowballed into regular triathlons and half marathons.
“When I started losing weight I thought I’d like to do some fun runs and I got hooked,” he said.
“It’s the adrenaline of seeing everyone around you, especially the people ahead of you.
“When you’re unfit for so many years and you start seeing progress and improvement...that’s what keeps me going.”
It seems McIntyre’s newfound fitness addiction has caught on within the family, too. After seeing the turnaround in his son’s life, McIntyre’s father decided to drop his kilos with a gastric band and recently conquered Africa’s most formidable mountain.
“My own father had one after me - he’s just climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.”
According to McIntyre, the gastric band had no effect on his physical activity, and he was able to begin exercising as soon as he had recovered from the surgery.
“Without them (Adelaide Bariatric Centre), I don’t think I would be where I am now,” he said.
“I have nothing but good to say about (bariatric surgeon) Dr Lilian; she’s been great...and she’s the first doctor that said I was allowed to eat chocolate.”
If you would like to support Matt McIntyre’s run by donating to cancer research, you can do so at his fundraising page.
Image supplied by: Matt McIntyre