A Meath man who was ‘eating and drinking himself to death’ says the running fraternity saved him and gave him a new life beyond his 'wildest dreams.'
Stephen Dever (43) believes everyone should join a sports club for support with life challenges after he spent years in a vicious circle eating and drinking to blank out how he was feeling.
"I now have a new life beyond my wildest dreams. I don't have a Ferrari but I have peace of mind and I like what I see in the mirror."
The Kells man’s weight always roller-coastered over the years until at his heaviest, he topped the scales at 21 stone, nine pounds.
But it was worse than that, he wasn’t happy.
A former magazine front-page model for then WeighWatchers after losing 100lb, Stephen stopped going to the group when he reached his target and put five stone back on within months.
After a decade more of ‘eating and drinking himself to death,’ he finally realised that he needed to address his mental health first before his eating habits would change for good.
“I was always a good eater but when I lived beside the football pitch in Drumbarragh in Kells, I’d work it off.
“It was when I moved into the town that there was a pub beside me and a Chinese across the road and it was too easy.
“When I lost the 100lbs initially in my 20s, I felt so good but then I stopped going and I piled on the pounds again.”
Stephen moved to Kerry for a time when his weight problems continued
“I always suffered from anxiety and used alcohol to make me feel better about myself. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror so I’d go to the pub. I was eating and drinking myself to death.
“I decided I needed to clean out the house as such and get rid of the stuff in my head first before I could fully concentrate on my health.
“So I ditched the drink twelve years ago and I went back to Wellness that Works and lost 8 stone 10lb.
“I was again featured in their magazine and was delighted.
“A few years ago I started running with two clubs in Kerry, the Kerry Crusaders and Born to Run in Tralee and they were so supportive in helping me to run first 5k and then making me believe I could run further.
“Ahead of every event I was in, I’d get tonnes of messages of support from club members. That’s what it’s all about.”
"I'm 13 stone, five pound now, I'm healthy and I'm happy."
Just ahead of moving back to Meath, Stephen achieved his ultimate goal when he ran not only his first marathon but his first ultra event In Listowel in Kerry last September when he ran 30 miles in six hours.
He’s also now in training for his first Dublin marathon now with the help of Navan Athletic Club.
“If you are in a bad place, get involved in a group. I used Wellness that Works and my running clubs to boost and support me. Keep going to the clubs no matter what anyone says and talk to someone if you’re low.
“These clubs saved my life and I have no doubt about that,
“I can feel things now. I used to use food and drink to hide from my feelings but now if I’m sad, I cry and if I’m happy I show it.
“Tomorrow could be a crap day but now I know that it will only be the one day and the next day will be better!”