As nicknames go, “The Beast” has never been the most flattering.
The ITV quizzer has lost a staggering 61kg, now tipping the scales at 120kg, and after a lifetime of ordering bespoke XXXXL clothing, can now fit into “off-the-peg M&S chinos”.
The 55-year-old Oxford graduate — he got an MA in maths from Exeter College — credits a new two-meal-a-day regime and daily walks for his dramatic weight loss.
At his heaviest, in 2003 — his last year as a full-time teacher — Mark weighed 184kg, and now he says: “This is the lightest I’ve been in 25 years.
“I’m now under 20 stone, and I am really feeling the difference, as well as seeing it.
“I’m now down to a 44-inch waist, my chest is 54 inches, while my neck measurements are down to 19 inches, which is fantastic for me and the top end of a normal man’s range.
“My knees really feel the difference. I will never be athletic again but I just move so much better for not carrying that extra weight.”
And Mark — nicknamed because his surname sounds like the French for The Beast, La Bête — adds: “As soon as the shops open again, I’m due to do a mega-shop of all the big high street stores because I can now wear Marks & Spencer’s trousers and chinos in an XL.
“It’s the first time I’ve been able to buy off-the-peg in as long as I can remember. I actually ordered a load of sweatpants from M&S but they accidentally sent me some 36 to 38-inch waist ones instead but, shock horror, I could fit into them.
“Granted, they were tight, and they wouldn’t have been comfortable for a gym session, but the fact that I could even put something like that on was amazing.”
Brainbox Mark, arguably the most popular of the Chasers on the hit ITV quiz show hosted by Bradley Walsh, has done it the hard way, with no gastric band, no quick-fix diet pills and no gimmicky fat loss clinic.
A big-boned child, he says he has always struggled with his weight, cruelly dubbed the “Incredible Hulk” and “Honey Monster” at school, “along with other appalling nicknames which I won’t share.”
After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2016, he started to cut down the amount of sugar in his diet.
A self-confessed sweet and chocolate junkie, he was advised that a gastric bypass or band wouldn’t work on him because the sugar would go straight through it.
Mark credits its largely meat-based plan for helping him shift the final stone this year. The weight loss has also seen a dramatic lowering of his blood pressure, and today he is almost diabetes-free.
“I always try to have a decent breakfast, a cooked breakfast, because it’s actually quite good for you, and maybe just a muffin or two for lunch if I’m filming.
“I’m often just too exhausted in the evening to eat, and just go to bed without. It works for me.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was republished with permission