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talking out Mark Labbett admits he was eating himself into an early grave before weight loss

Mark Labbett, aka ‘The Beast’ on The Chase, tells the Sunday World about losing a third of his body weight, why men need to be more open about their health, and the hit show’s new Irish recruit

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Mark giving contestants a run for their money on The Chase

Mark giving contestants a run for their money on The Chase

A slimmed-down Mark with his Fitbit.

A slimmed-down Mark with his Fitbit.

Mark before changing his lifestyle.

Mark before changing his lifestyle.

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Mark giving contestants a run for their money on The Chase

IT was a chilling reality that forced The Chase star Mark Labbett to make big changes that he now believes saved his own life.

As the quiz genius christened ‘The Beast’ on the hit ITV show saw his weight edge towards the 30-stone mark 12 years ago, the inevitability that he would be diagnosed with diabetes was merely part of a story that could lead to his premature demise.

He had just toasted his 40th birthday and the stress of his job as a schoolteacher was adding to his health concerns that he believes may well have ended his life if he didn’t make radical changes.

Speaking exclusively to Magazine+ at a fitbit event, the 56-year-old celebrity confesses he doesn’t believe he was killing himself until he embarked on a radical shift in his lifestyle and mindset.

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A slimmed-down Mark with his Fitbit.

A slimmed-down Mark with his Fitbit.

A slimmed-down Mark with his Fitbit.

“I honestly believe that I wouldn’t be here now if I had kept going the way I was,” begins Mark, who has lost 10 stone in recent years.

“I’m sure I’d have had at least one stroke or a heart attack if I had carried on eating the way I was. The stress of teaching was adding to my problems before I started working on The Chase and it was a gradual thing that caught up with me.

“I got very fit in my college days playing a lot of basketball and rugby and dropped down to 17 stone, which is not bad someone who is 6 foot 5 inches.

“The moment I stopped playing sport, I started to pile the weight on. I put on seven or eight stone and didn’t even realise how quickly it was going on.

“You put a lot of calories in when you are training for sport and when you stop that, the weight goes on and it kept going on.

“I may have been in denial for a long period because I didn’t want to admit I had a problem, but in my last year of teaching in 2003, I was at 29 stone.

“My blood pressure was high enough for them to put me on blood pressure pills and this were getting serious.

“Thankfully now, my blood pressure is normal. That might be because I’m not a teacher any more, but it has obviously got more to do with my weight.

“There was the initial shock when I was disguised with diabetes, but I was eating vast amounts of sweets and chocolate so it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

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“If I had moaned about diabetes, it would have been like a two bottle a day alcoholic moaning about having sclerosis of the liver. I did the crime, so I had to do the time. This was self inflicted and I had to accept that.

“Since then, I have lost a lot of weight since then and I got very close to being diabetes free. Maybe that is something I can aim for as my next target.”

Mark’s work with fitbit’s fitness & health trackers is helping to highlight the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and he feels men are guilty of avoiding issues that need to be discussed in a more open forum.

“Men are almost conditioned to think we are invulnerable demigods, but of course we are not,” he continues. “Women talk about their health issues, but men tend to hide away from them and that’s not good for us.

“I also think we don’t treat bigger people correctly at times. If someone had a drink problem, you wouldn’t go out of your way to offer them a double.... yet people offer people who are overweight sweet and cakes. That can’t be right.

“The reaction I’ve had suggests the viewers are quite enjoying the way I look now. Maybe I am leaner and meaner now. Dropping from a 60-inch chest to a 54. That is still bigger than most people, but I feel much healthier now.”

Mark’s life has been transformed since he landed a role on The Chase 12 years ago, as he became a belated celebrity.

“My job didn’t exist until 2009,” he added. “How can you prepare yourself to become a celebrity in your mid-40s? I feel that this is the job I was born to do, but it can still be strange when people ask for selfies in supermarkets.

“Every year, The Chase has got bigger and bigger. When we first went to ITV parties, people asked who we were, but they all know who we are now and they want selfies with us.

“Of course, we now have an Irish Chaser with us after Darragh Ennis joined the show last year and he is experiencing what the rest of us have been through as the show has got bigger and bigger and you become more well known.

“Darragh has proved to be very popular with the ladies and I’m so impressed that he is trying to be a Chaser while also doing a full-time job.

“It’s great fun, but it’s also a job you need to take seriously.”

  • Mark Labbett completed this year’s Diabetes UK One Million Steps Challenge, alongside 30,000+ others. Fitbit and Diabetes UK aim to promote the importance of leading a healthier and more active lifestyle in preventing type 2 diabetes and managing all types of diabetes.

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