Before their transformation, Sarah and Mark would consume takeaways and bottles of wine every night
A husband and wife from Salford have turned their lives around to “feel incredible” after living an unhealthy lifestyle addicted to eating takeaways and drinking wine “every night”.
Mark and Sarah Smith, from Winton in Greater Manchester, were trapped in a terrible routine – affecting their lives and relationship – until Mark experienced a near-death experience with his heart, forcing the pair to make much-needed changes to get out of their poor habits.
Sarah reached out to Manchester’s UP Fitness gym after watching constant Instagram reels of celebrities working out with ‘tough’ trainers. They signed up to UP for their total body transformation programme in October 2022, with the sole aim to resolve their unhealthy habits.
The big step was precisely what the Salford couple needed, as Mark went on to lose four stone and changed his ‘beer belly’ into a shredded six pack. Similarly, Sarah, 44, reduced her weight by three stone and is now looking in her prime after she was able to see muscles bulging through like never before, Manchester Evening News reports.
Sarah and Mark now look shredded after their major u-turn in their lives
They couple have now been able to incorporate both exercise and eating whole foods into their every day lives. Mark and Sarah both live in Winton, Eccles and also work for the same financial company in Manchester city centre together.
They have managed to make a major u-turn in their lives, as they previously would take a quick trip to Greggs to pick up unnecessary snacks on their lunch break. However, they are now focused on making time for hard-working gym sessions, and this led them to abandon their formerly nightly takeaways and the bottles of booze.
The decision to become dedicated to the gym has enabled the Salford couple to transform their lives and their 18-year relationship, according to them. “I’d been really unfit for quite a long time, and a couple of years ago I had a vascular issue where the blood flow was restricted to the left hand side of my body and my eye dropped on one side,” Mark said.
“I did make some changes to my diet at that time, but quickly slipped back into old habits of eating takeaways and drinking wine every night. I was generally living an unhealthy life. We both put quite a bit of weight on and we were both unhappy. We were arguing all the time, we weren’t active. It got to the point that Sarah said ‘right, we need to do something about this’.”
Sarah added: “It was a combination of everything, I was not coping with my grief after I lost my dad, and my emotions were all over the place. I was worried about Mark’s health and really unhappy at home – we were both miserable, grouchy and we’d take everything out on each other.
“We were just existing. We were in this constant cycle of get up, go to work, get home, have a drink and feel alright for a while but then waking up and feeling sad.”
Sarah pictured before and after losing three stone
The married couple became comfortable with their poor habits of getting a takeaway via delivery apps after getting home tired from work. They would pop open a bottle of wine as they eagerly waited for their meals to arrive and consume two to three bottles of wine between them.
When looking at their bank statements, the couple were appalled to discover that they were splurging £50 to £60 every night on their food and wine purchases. They would order fast food on delivery apps as well as taking a trip to their local shop to purchase £10 bottles of their favourite wine. However, they now use their money – which would previously be spent on pizzas, kebabs and alcohol – to use for their gym sessions instead.
Mark explained: “If I gave you access to my Deliveroo account from that time you’d be shocked. I’ve now deleted the app off my phone as it was just so easy to order a takeaway every night without hardly thinking about it when it already has your card details stored.
“The neighbours joked about the amount of takeaways we used to have – you know it’s bad when even the neighbours are commenting. We’d have a takeaway at 7pm, then sometimes be ordering a McDonalds takeaway with desserts at 11pm.”
Looking back at her old habits, Sarah said: “I’d hardly eat in the day, and the first thing I’d sometimes be having was wine at night when we got in – then the food later on. We very very rarely cooked at home.”
She had watched UP Fitness on Instagram, where she saw a trainer called ‘Evil Steve’ coaching Strictly star and influencer Gemma Atkinson. Sarah recognised the trainer’s “tough love”, which was just the kind that her and her husband Mark needed.
They decided to sign up last October for two works outs at the start, but this soon increased to three. Sarah stated: “I knew they’d be tough and put you out of your comfort zone, they do push you and that’s how you achieve personal best. But they look after you at the same time.”
Mark was put through his paces with personal trainer Adam while Sarah was with Joe, but the main issue which needed rectifying was their takeaway habit. Alternatively, they were advised by their trainers to put focus their eating habits on whole foods and home cooking.
Mark pictured before and after losing four stone
Sarah continued: “I was actually glad when they said that the takeaways and the wine needed to stop – I needed someone else to say it and now I have that accountability. I can control it now.”
Mark added: “Adam was pretty clear at the outset that changes needed to be made, if you don’t listen and don’t be honest they can’t help. I knew going into that what I needed to change but I just needed help to do it. I went in with an open mind but listened to what they said. You’ve got to be open to change.”
Mark – who is 5′ 10″ – started his journey at 15 stone 8lbs, but he has now dropped down to an 11stone 7lbs. In merely six months, Mark cut 30kg and has gone from finding it difficult to fit into 38″ waist trousers to a 32″. His wife Sarah – who is 5’7″ – was looking to tone up, where she has gone from her top weight of 11stone down to 8stone. She has also been able to toned up her whole body during her journey, and has gone from wearing a size 12/14 to a size 8.
Mark stated: “We both feel absolutely incredible, the change in everything that this has made is absolutely ridiculous. I’m fitter, I look better, I feel better – all that sort of stuff it’s been a complete transformation. It has completely changed our lives and our relationship. It’s rescued it to a certain degree.”
Sarah revealed: “I’m so much more confident. In the past I would always get Mark to come with me to things, but now I do things on my own. I never used to drive, but now I’ve started driving more and I’ve even had a tattoo. We cook together now, it’s like another hobby we’ve got together.”
The couple were able to surprise themselves to participate in a professional photoshoot with the gym and they cannot believe how much their figures have changed. Sarah stated: “Before when we’ve tried to lose weight, it’s almost like you’re frightened of food and think you can’t eat. But with this it was actually the complete opposite – we weren’t putting the right food in, we were having takeaways constantly. Now we have the tools to fuel our bodies.”
Mark added: “For me, before I was living off 3,5000 calories of junk food and low energy, now I’m on 3,500 calories of whole foods – and obviously I’m now healthy and maintaining.”
The couple’s family and friends have welcomed their impressive life changes. “The response has been mega, my family are so proud of me for making these changes for my health,” Mark said, while Sarah added: “At first friends thought there was no way we could go without a drink but we’ve proved them wrong. Now we still enjoy an occasional drink when we go out.”
Mark stated: “We don’t touch alcohol in the week at all, if we have a drink at the weekend it’s just a glass with a meal if we feel like it. We’ve completely changed the mindset of ‘if you’re opening a bottle, you might as well drink the whole bottle’.”
Mark’s daily diet before
- Breakfast – Coffee and a cigarette
- Lunch – Greggs sandwich with a pasty – and a bacon turnover just for the walk back to the office.
- Dinner – Takeaway pizza or kebabs, bottle of wine
Mark’s daily diet now
- Breakfast – Fruit, porridge, honey, peanut butter and protein shake
- Snack – Rice Krispies marshmallow bar
- Lunch – Chicken, veg and rice or sweet potato
- Snack – Bagel and jam/peanut butter
- Dinner – Steak or fish with veg, or home-made spaghetti bolognaise.
- 9pm – Protein shake
Sarah’s daily diet before
- Breakfast – Coffee or Diet Coke
- Lunch – Nothing, or Greggs sausage roll or a packet of crisps
- Dinner – Bottle of wine, then takeaway
Sarah’s daily diet now
- Breakfast – Porridge oats, peanut butter and fruits and protein powder
- Pre-workout – Portion of fruit
- Lunch – Chicken veg and rice or sweet potato
- Post-workout – Blueberry muffin
- Dinner – Home-made chilli or curry – no shop bought sauces, all made from scratch