Lanark’s Gillies is half the man he used to be!

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Two years ago, Lanark businessman Gillies Macdonald weighed in at 30 stone and was facing his 40th birthday with, excuse the pun, only a slim chance of reaching his 50th.

Though his career in the recruitment industry was a success, that had come at a terrible cost not only to his waistline but also to his health and personal happiness.

“I was just working crazy hours, 6am to 9pm a lot of days, and I was just using food as fuel to keep going.

“Since I was a kid, my weight had been up and down, and I didn’t even realise that I had hit 30 stone until I decided to have a check-up before starting my own business two years ago.

“At the doctor’s, I got on a set of scales for the first time in years, and the dial went up to 30 stone.

“Funnily enough, the doctor said there was basically nothing wrong with my health but told me there was going to be something very wrong with it if I didn’t lose weight.

“I just took stock that day. I realised that I was fast heading for 40 and still didn’t have a relationship, and that was down to my weight and my lifestyle. Something had to be done.”

Driving to and from home in Lanark, he’d noticed the Curtis Brothers Fitness studio, then in Bannatyne Street, while passing but hadn’t considered going in before.

“Instead of trying to diet and exercise myself, I decided to get professional help,” he said. “After all, if your drains get blocked, you call a plumber and you go to a dentist if there’s something wrong with your teeth. I’m glad I did it.”

And what did co-proprietor Barry Curtis think of his new heavyweight customer?

“Well, Gillies was the first 30-stone guy to walk through the door,” recalled Barry of that day two years ago.

“However, I sat down and had a good conversation with him, as we do with everyone wanting to join us, and I decided there and then that this guy had the determination and the right attitude to get fit.”

At his first session, Gillies got a shock at realising just how unfit he was when Barry put him through the gentlest of exercises, just forming a few simple boxing stances.

“I was on my knees gasping for breath after a few minutes,” recalls Gillies, now looking slim and healthy, his current 16-stone weight being carried well by his 6ft 3in-high frame.

That shock and Barry’s gentle, escalating exercise regime, plus a vital diet sheet to follow, spurred Gillies on to where he is today.

That diet - and Barry states that diet is “80% and exercise 20%” of any successful fitness regime - seems hardly daunting to a layman’s eyes.

For example, Gillies can tuck into a bowl of bran flakes and three boiled eggs for breakfast if he so wishes.

“Just cut out bread and alcohol altogether and pasta after eight at night,” Barry reveals as the basic secret, saying that night-time eating is the worse enemy of all. If hunger strikes after dark, he advises hitting a fruit bowl.

On the exercise front, Gillies still attends the Curtis Brothers gym, now in the old post office in St Leonard Street, twice a week, and he and Barry still have twice-weekly pep talks.

And the two men have moved on from being trainer and client to firm friends.

Gillies, now 41, says his diet has become a routine and his regular jogging a pleasure – and he and his girlfriend are celebrating their first year together.