Rick during his chemotherapy treatment, left, and now, right, as a muscly personal trainer.
Cancer is always a devastating disease that forever changes the lives of every single person it affects, whether it hits them directly or indirectly, and whether the sickness responds well to treatment or not.
But Rick Keyworth, diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma aged just 21 over Christmas 2008, was one of the lucky ones.
For Rick, an overweight, out-of-shape, beer-drinking ‘rugby lad’ from Stockport, the malignant 15cm tumour growing in his neck – along with the the ensuing seven months of brutal chemotherapy and radiotherapy – was the wake-up call he needed to radically shake-up his life.
Following his treatment, when he was given the all-clear, doctors at the Christie cancer hospital in Manchester warned him that treatment had ravaged his body and left it severely weakened.
He was now more susceptible to life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Rick wanted to ensure he had the best possible chance of a long and healthy future with his girlfriend – now wife – Danielle. He knew it was up to him to make changes himself.
Newly inspired, Rick immediately began reading exhaustively around nutrition, health and fitness. He stopped eating heavily processed foods, high-fat foods, high-sugar foods and junk. He hit the gym and the rugby field.
Streamlining his diet and dialling up his activity levels, Rick saw results almost immediately.
Speaking to MailOnline, he said: ‘I was always an active lad – always playing rugby and cricket, even during my treatment – but my diet wasn’t good. I was your typical rugby boy: I loved curries and beers. At 5ft 9in and 15st 5lb I had a big old belly on me.
‘Doctors were blunt with me, which I appreciated, and said the cancer treatment had given me a bit of a kicking.
‘I was suddenly at risk of other diseases so I knew I had to get my act together. I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of living.’
‘I was doing doing three or four intense resistance sessions a week and three rugby sessions. I went completely back to basics with my diet and cut out all sugars and fats, eating just lean meats and oily fish, vegetables, fruit and carbohydrate. And magic happened.
‘I suppose in that way the cancer was an eye-opener. It forced me to sort my life out and was, I suppose, a bit of a blessing in disguise. Though it isn’t the way I would have chosen to do it, given the choice!’
Rick watched the weight fall off and his physical fitness peak. But he didn’t want to stop there.
‘But I didn’t want to just read and know about it, I wanted to take it to the next level and teach other people about it, so I qualified as a personal trainer in 2010, which seemed the natural progression.’
Combining his own workouts with personal training, Rick works out around eight times a week.
Such a big life transition has not been easy, but Rick maintains it with military precision, counting calories and writing down every single thing he has to eat, as well as how much exercise he does.
‘I have a very strict, structured regime,’ he said. ‘I prepare most my meals in advance so I never get stuck reading the nutritional content of sandwich packets and unable to eat anything. And I use Muscle Food, a trusted brand who have a range of products I know will offer exactly what I need.
.’Getting in shape and being healthy is all about diet and nutrition, and it’s not about doing it for a short time, it’s about doing it month-in, month-out.
‘Consistency and being self-disciplined are the key to results.’
Rick – whose weight dropped to 12st 4lb and whose body turned from fat to muscle – eats about six regimented meals a day, supplemented with fruit.
And not only does he write down everything he puts in his body, he also logs it onto MyFitnessPal, a mobile app to which his clients have access – so they can see if he slips up.
‘Of course I treat myself every now and then. I’m human! I had a tub of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream at the weekend. Everybody has cravings.
‘But it might be two or three weeks until I have something bad again. And it wouldn’t happen every day. It’s only when tubs of peanut butter ice cream become the norm that you have to worry.’
Rick has now, thankfully, been given the all-clear from cancer, but he still has an MOT once a year to make sure everything stays as it should.
‘One of my biggest motives to change my life was that I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of surviving. It was horrible to see my family and my girlfriend, who is now my wife, worrying about me. I feel like I had the easy role and they had the difficult one.’
‘My dad died in between my chemo and radiotherapy treatments, and knowing how much my mum must have gone through. If there is anything I can now do to stop that happening again, I will.’
These days Rick is a picture of optimum health, and in a roundabout way credits cancer with giving him the impetus to change.
He said: ‘I’m a lot happier now that before I had it. I guess it kind of sorted me out.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail

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