“I started small, but it’s taken me further than I ever thought”

    What started off as a simple step challenge for Stephen Morrison turned into him losing 12.5st, writing a fitness blog and getting active with his family…

    My pat on the back

    Joining the step challenge site pathsforall.org.uk

    Running a 5K, 10k, half and full marathons

    Starting my fitness blog at howmanymiles.co.uk

    Getting involved with a local cycling group

    Taking part in parkrun

    “The photo of me at the 2011 office Christmas party was a picture of festive cheer – I had a drink in my hand and a big smile on my face. In reality, I was 25st and deeply unhappy. I knew something had to change.

    “I’d always been a bit chubby – I tended to use food as comfort, and my portion sizes were out of control. I gradually got bigger and bigger, and became more embarrassed to go out and do exercise.

    Small steps, big strides

    “In January 2012, I realised something had to give. I signed up to pathsforall.org.uk, a workplace step challenge. At first I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, but when my confidence built up I coerced my colleagues to take part too. Soon I was walking seven miles to work and I even walked a half marathon.

    “Next I moved on to running and after my first 5k I was hooked. I built up to 10ks then half marathons, and my ultimate high point was completing the Copenhagen marathon in 5 hours 32 minutes. I couldn’t believe I’d managed to run a marathon and finishing felt so sweet. At my lowest weight, I was 12.5st ­– half my original bodyweight.


    Me at the Christmas party

    On a roll

    “To keep up the momentum I decided to sign up to a VitalityLife plan so I could make use of the different rewards they offered. I got myself a Garmin to track my steps and heart rate and did the weekly parkrun to build up Vitality points.

    “I also started fitness blogging at howmanymiles.co.uk, using my personal experiences to help others in the same position. I even got a job as a lay advisor for the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine.

    Bumps in the road

    “Unfortunately, my knees were causing me almost constant pain and my physio said I should stop running. I was devastated that all my hard work and dedication was falling apart, and I rapidly started falling into old – and bad – ­ habits. I put on 4st in six months and started turning down invites for workouts with friends.

    Me at my fittest

    Me at my fittest

    Storming ahead

    “Despite these difficulties, I’ve decided I won’t head back down the path to obesity. I’ve made use of the Vitality benefit to buy myself a new bike from Evans Cycles.

    “I’m cycling to work and have joined a local cycling group. I’ve also got  into trail running, which is easier on the joints. I’ll probably never get back to my lightest weight again, but I’m more concerned about being healthy and happy, and a role model to my two sons, Daniel, 12, and Jack, 10. We now spend more time together, being active – we go cycling every weekend and, although I can’t promise to beat them, I can definitely give them a run for their money. We also love the Vitality rewards like cinema tickets. I can use them with my whole family – and get fit and have fun at the same time.”

    The Vitality difference:

    1. My Vitality discounted Garmin Vivofit is a huge motivator to take part in parkrun and build up my Vitality points, which earn me and my family weekly trips to the cinema
    2. When I was having problems with my knees and had to stop running, the Vitality benefit of up to 50% cash back on a bike at Evans Cycles encouraged me to buy a new bike and throw myself into cycling.
    3. Exercise has now become a family affair and we all go out running together. My wife and I both wear our half price trainers from Sweatshop bought with the Vitality discount.

    Watch Stephen’s story here:

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