Robert Langston knew he had to change his life. He was 37, weighed 16.2 stone (103kg) and couldn’t walk down his local high street without losing his breath.
He had diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, and knew that his poor diet and a lack of physical activity had contributed to his condition.
Robert, a painter-decorator from Walsall, Staffordshire, had been unfit to work for several years. He had been in and out of hospital with ill health.
He contacted Time to Change, an exercise advice scheme run by Walsall Council's Sport and Leisure Development Services in partnership with NHS Walsall, which he had read about. The scheme helps people raise their activity levels gradually.
He began the exercise classes Time to Change recommended. Twelve months later, Robert has turned his life around.
He's lost more than 3 stone (20kg), improved his health and returned to full-time employment. "I wanted my life back," says Robert, now 38. "I was on heavy medication for asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure."
The fitness classes, known as PACE, involved an hour a week of circuit training, which alternates short bursts of intensive exercise with rest.
The Time to Change service also gave Robert tips on making small changes to his daily life to increase his activity levels, such as using the stairs instead of lifts and escalators.
"I went to the exercise classes once a week and slowly the weight started to come off," says Robert. "As I saw the results, I got more and more into it."
At the same time, he received advice on improving his diet from the NHS Walsall Community Health's dietitians, who were helping him with his asthma.
Within weeks of beginning his new active lifestyle, Robert's asthma improved and his better general health meant he needed less medication.
After six months, he had enough confidence to leave the scheme and go to the gym on his own. "I didn’t need the scheme any more," he says. "By that stage, I was running and generally active and ready to get back to work."
He found work as a caretaker at an infants' and nursery school. It suits his new active lifestyle perfectly as he spends most of his working day on the move.
Robert has also stuck with his healthy eating regime, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
"I haven't been on a crash diet or anything like that," he says. "I'm just eating the right stuff in the right quantities."
Robert found calorie counting most helpful for his weight management. "I try to make sure I'm not consuming more calories than I'm burning," he says.
Robert knows that making physical activity part of his lifestyle has been the key to getting healthy and staying in good shape. He has now turned his garage into a gym with a treadmill, a rowing machine and a weights bench.
"It's never too late to turn your health around," says Robert. "I was in pretty bad shape before I decided I wanted to change."