A grandad who now has the "body of a 25-year-old" was inspired to overhaul his lifestyle after a heart attack left him fearing for his health.
Richard Gouldon, 54, drank a litre of brandy every week and couldn't wear his wedding ring for six years because his fingers were too large.
Weighing 15st (95kg) at his heaviest, the dad-of-five suffered a heart attack in June 2021 and realised he needed to make a change.
After hiring a personal trainer, cutting out alcohol and overhauling his diet, Gouldon embarked on a 12-week programme with personal training business Ultimate Performance with “life-changing results”.
“I looked like an old man and now I look like a 25-year-old," Gouldon, who lives with his wife, Claire Gouldon, 48, and two of his five children, Phoebe, 13, Grace, eight, explains.
“I just didn't want to die, all I wanted was to be healthy, but what I've ended up with is an amazing new body that has transformed my entire life.”
Though he says he was was never super fit, Gouldon's movement was impacted after falling out of a tree in 2018.
The accident damaged all the muscles and nerves in the left side of his body, leaving him in constant pain and struggling to walk.
“I was cutting a tree in the back garden and I fell 30 feet,” he says.
“I was rushed to hospital and everyone kept saying I should have been dead or paralysed.
“Unbelievably, I didn’t break a single bone in my body but all my muscles and nerves in the left-hand side of my body were impacted.
“Though I was just glad to be alive, I could barely walk and my level of fitness went out the window.”
Gouldon's diet also started to suffer after the accident.
“I would drink every other day, at least three double brandy’s a night," he says.
“I was very much in the mid-life lifestyle, having meals out three times a week and the weight just piled on.
“I would work six days a week, ten to twelve hours a day, get home, have a curry, a couple of brandy’s and that was how I released stress.”
But his lifestyle started to take a toll on his body.
“I looked swollen all over, including my fingers, so I couldn’t even put my wedding ring on,” he says.
The turning point came in June 2021, when Gouldon suffered a heart attack.
“I was at home drinking some orange juice when I felt a massive pain,” he explains.
“My wife said she thought I might be having a heart attack but I didn't believe it."
But when the pain got out of control, Gouldon was rushed to hospital, where doctors confirmed he had suffered a heart attack.
After being fitted with two stents – tubes inserted into blocked passageways in the heart to keep them open – Gouldon was told he would need to rest for the next six months and advised to get fit afterwards.
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In January 2022 he discovered Ultimate Performance Leeds and despite starting with low expectations it was a pivotal moment in his fitness journey.
“I said to them my knees are a bit wonky, I have a slipped disc, no muscles in the left side of my back, I’m 15st and want to be 13 and I have just had a heart attack,” he says of his first session.
“I thought they might throw me out, but they said they would fix it.”
For one hour, three times a week, Gouldon began weight-based workouts as well as adopting a no-carb protein and vegetable diet.
By the end of 12 weeks, Gouldon had hit his goal of 13st (83kg) and couldn’t believe the results.
“It was like they had swapped my body for someone in their 20s,” he says.
“Even after ten weeks my skin looked healthier, I had lost all the visceral fat, the ‘swelling’, and I could put my wedding ring back on!”
By 16 weeks, and after totally overhauling his diet, Gouldon had dropped to 12st (76kg).
“I don’t drink anymore, I think brandy actually tastes like poison now,” he says of going alcohol-free.
“The other day I was invited to the pub with my mates and I got a coffee and no one chastised me, they all really support me."
The grandad-of-two also says he now has a better work-life balance.
"I start work at 6.30am or 7am but I finish by 3pm and go straight to the gym," he says.
“Or, on a Friday afternoon, I’ll finish work, go get our two grandkids and go straight to the caravan in Bridlington.”
Amazed by the impact his body transformation has had on his life, Gouldon has now encouraged his entire family to get fit.
"Every single person in my family has a gym membership now,” he says.
“Claire never thought she would like it but she’s been there three months and she loves it and sees it as a safe space.
“If I hadn’t had a heart attack, I would have just rolled into grandad life and probably gone up to about 16st,” he adds.
“But this has given me another body, and another life.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.