By Mark McConville
MEET the public servant who lost eleven stone and became a marathon runner after being told he might not live to see his son grow up.
Director of Training and Development in the National Council of Justice Diogo Ferreira (36) from Brasilia, Brazil weighed 25st 2lbs and suffered from high blood pressure, prediabetes, gallstones and sleep apnoea caused by obesity.
Diogo’s doctor suggested he could suffer a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years which prompted him to lose weight in order to see his newly-born son grow up.
Weight loss surgery helped Diogo slim down to 14st 2lbs and it was then that running came into his life.
“When you get married, you change your habits,” he said.
“You stop going out so many times. You would rather be home with you wife, having dinner or hanging out with other couples at restaurants.
“At some point I was studying a lot to pass an exam to become a public servant. So, I was so focused on studying that it became my life. I guess food was a way to replace other pleasures.
“I started to eat a lot, and only fast and unhealthy food. At some point you just turn on the “screw it” button, and stop caring about your nutrition, your health and everything related to that.
“I felt pretty bad. I was depressed, and feeling that I´ve achieved almost everything that I wanted in my life, except the way I look. Year after year I promised to change my life and a few months after that I was doing everything wrong again.
“When my wife was pregnant, I started to think what kind of father I would be to my son. Would I be able to play with him? Run with him? Teach him to ride a bike? Would he be ashamed of me? Would he see me as his hero?”
Diogo had no diet or exercise regime. He ate lots of fast food, sugar and fat. Since his weight loss everything has changed.
He now exercises six times a week, runs a lot and lifts weights while he has an ambition to complete an Ironman.
“I feel pretty good. My health is great, I am the super hero of my son, and I can help other people to go through the same process that I did,” he added.
“It was after the surgery that running came to my life. I set thee goals for the next six months: To run a 5k race, to run a 10k race and to run a half marathon. And I did all of them.
“I also fell in love with bodybuilding, and put on a lot of clean mass. Then I needed something to challenge myself again and I started to think whether a formerly obese person like me could run 26.2 miles.
“I slept many days on this idea until I decided to sign up for a marathon. On July of 2017 I became a marathon runner and now I´m looking for a new challenge. I did my first Sprint triathlon last November, and just started thinking would it be possible for a formerly obese person like me complete an Ironman challenge? We will see very soon.
“Now my diet has a purpose. It’s to give energy to my training routine. Since I´m training so much hard and burning so many calories, I can give myself an ice cream or a chocolate sometimes. Food is no longer a replacement for anything, because I found joy in other activities.”
Diogo explained the hardest thing about losing weight was taking the decision to start and had advice for anyone facing the same choices he has.
“The first thing is to find inside yourself the reason want to lose weight,” he said.
“Everyone has a reason. It must be strong enough to keep you in line throughout your transformation. Then put yourself in first place. It’s going to be hard and you need to focus your energy in you.
“Set small and big goals. The small goals will help you to feel that you are winning. Celebrate the small victories, they are very important. The big goals will help you see the entire process.
“Create a support network. In my case was my Instagram profile (@diogoferreirafit) where I post my training routine and my diet and get support from people all around the world.
“Finally, understand that is not going to be a linear process. You will have ups and downs. It’s perfectly normal. Look at the big picture.”
For more information see https://www.instagram.com/diogoferreirafit/