Body Transformations: Richard Stafford

James Stafford Before and after

Best foot forward!

Unlike the usual procedure, we actually found him! A member or staff stumbled across him and we HAD to feature his epic story.

But if you don’t want to leave you tale to chance, then get in touch and have your story told!

Either email us at or send us a message on Facebook or twitter

Here is Richard’s body transformation.

What is your fitness background?

Growing up I played football and rugby, and later I joined the army at 16 which involved a lot of physical training, so generally I was very fit.

Between leaving the army in 2004 and starting my transformation in 2011, I did very little exercise. This was partly due to illness, but if truth be told I had the wrong attitude towards healthy living. Basically, worked an office job and ate too much!

Why did you decide to transform your body?

Having ballooned to almost 26 stone I became disgusted with myself and very concerned that I would not be around long enough to be part of my daughters’ life. Plus I desperately wanted to do something meaningful with my life.

I hated that I couldn’t do anything without being out of breath and tired. I hated the embarrassment of not being able to do simple things, like go on a roller coaster at theme parks because I was too fat. So I finally decided enough was enough, no more excuses. I started my transformation in 2011 after recovering from back surgery.

What your training was like during the transformation?

Initially, due to my poor fitness levels and because I was recovering from surgery, I started off walking my dog around the Knap in Barry. I gradually increased the distance every day. I progressed by joining my local gym, Barry Leisure Centre, where I spent 2 months doing 60 minutes cardio on a treadmill and exercise bike, gradually increasing pace and gradient. I read up on heart rate zones and made sure to workout in the optimum fat burning zone.

After 3 months and a 3 stone weight loss, I decided to join a local karate club to compliment what I was doing at the gym. This had a massive positive effect on both my mind and body. The philosophy of Kyokushin karate is to keep pushing and trying, even when you feel you can do no more. This message has spurred me on on countless occasions.

Gradually over 12 months my fitness and strength increased and my weight dropped to 12 stone. At this point I had surgery to remove loose skin that I had on my abdomen. After the surgery I focused my training on being in shape for karate.

My current routine is pre-breakfast cardio and core training 3 times a week at DW gym in Llanishen and 3 weight sessions a week. This is to keep my cardiovascular fitness up and my fat % down.

What was your diet like?

I wrote a diet plan with 60% of my calories from protein, 30% carbs and 10% fat. I incorporated supplements and used protein shakes and fat burners. For the initial 12 months through the main weight loss I used Sci MX GRS5 and shred x fat burners.

As part of the diet I also made a lot of subtle changes like changing to green tea instead of normal tea. Little changes but ones I felt make a big difference. The other massive part of my diet was to once a week allow myself a cheat meal. This made the hard times where I’d be really hungry bearable.

Having dropped down to 12 stone and having the skin removed, I looked terribly small to a point where people thought I was ill! At this point I revisited the calories I needed per day using the Harris Benedict theory and changed my macronutrients to 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. I also changed my supplements to a good quality whey protein, a casein protein for bedtime and a testosterone booster. These supplements, combined with balanced calories, led to me gaining 2 stone but I have kept my fat percentage down and my waist size has stayed the same.

How has your lifestyle changed?

My transformation has completely changed my life, my personality and my future. The transformation has made me overhaul my lifestyle; at first it was little things like doing something active when I was bored instead of eating, or walking to the shop instead of driving. I also stopped drinking alcohol, initially for a year, but now I only drink on the odd special occasion, even then I’m wary of what I’m drinking.

When it comes to things like food shopping, I’m constantly looking at the nutritional information to make sure it’s good for me and not full of processed fat. And of course there’s the gym. I stick to my plan religiously. Some people call me obsessed and don’t agree but that’s their opinion, they call it obsession I call it dedication.

What challenges did you face?

1. Injury
During my transformation I have picked up the odd injury, normally from karate but I usually get round this by tailoring my training so the injury has a chance to heal. 12 months ago I broke a bone in my hand during a fight for my grading. Back in the old days I would have used this as an excuse not to not train at all, but instead I just didn’t lift weights until it was better and focused on cardio and core based training instead.

2. Environment
Some fitter people in the gym would look at me and snigger because I was overweight. This is a massive stumbling block and difficult to get over. The idiots in question really should be helping and encouraging overweight people rather than making them feel uncomfortable.

3. Finances
The final stumbling block that has also tripped me up a few times is the cost of being healthy. When I was overweight my food shopping bill was far cheaper than now. Not to mention the government putting an extra 20% tax on sports supplements. Not being loaded, there are times I find it difficult to afford the healthy options like fresh fruit, vegetables and chicken etc, but I have always managed. Surely if the government really wanted people to be healthier they would work with supermarkets to make eating healthy cheaper than eating unhealthy? But that’s another story!

How do you feel about your transformation?

I am massively proud of my transformation so far, but am not satisfied and don’t think I will ever be 100% satisfied. I feel I will always want to improve something, whether it’s aesthetic or goal based e.g. running.

Again, some people say that I should be satisfied with what I have achieved so far, but for me the fear of being the way I was before keeps pushing me to better myself however I can.

What are your plans for the future?

I have a number of plans for the future mainly to continue getting leaner, stronger and fitter. I have returned to dojo training to continue on my path towards getting to black belt. I have passed 6 gradings so far and got 4 to go so lots of work to do there. Also I’m looking forward to continuing to compete in national tournaments and maybe one day win one or two.

I would also like to make a career out of helping people achieve what I did and am hoping to study the relevant qualifications to become a fitness instructor and or dietitian in the future.

2 thoughts on “Body Transformations: Richard Stafford

  1. Arlo Neumann

    Awesome transformation brother..really great work. I did the same..I went from 302 to 167 where I am now..started at age 39 and I will be 41 this summer…all of the stuff you said about alcohol and eating is spot on and I feel the same was nice to read about someone like me. DriveDedicationDeterminationDiscipline

  2. Richard Stafford

    Hey thanks for the comment man. Sorry about late reply. Well done on your success #respect


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *