If the past 18 months has taught me anything, it’s that it’s never too late to change yourself for the better.

Playing golf at 170 kilograms was fun but, boy, it became an absolute slog. I never wanted to walk when I played. I’d always opt for the golf cart because pulling a buggy up a hill became a near impossible task.

I still have a terrible slice and terrible footwork, which I attribute to having to swing around a large stomach. Plus, your clubs get shorter and shorter the more weight you put on. I can remember a golf shop attendant saying once, when I was 17 or so, that I should really lose the gut as it was hurting my game. At my heaviest, just bending down to tee my ball up or grab my ball from the cup was a real pain and struggle.

Being a large guy, you have to worry about so many things that the average person doesn’t even think about. Things like tying your shoelaces and having to hold your breath while doing so… it really grinds you down.

When my father passed away almost five years ago from lung cancer, I hit rock bottom. I fell into a dark pit and it was hard to see any light some days. Luckily, my amazing wife was an absolute rock and I wouldn’t have gotten through that grieving period without her. I realised I didn’t want my three kids to lose their father. I didn’t want to have to tell them, “I stuffed up” – the very words my father whispered to me on his deathbed. I was squeezing into an 8XL shirt, and the only place you can go from there is to lose weight or lay-by a coffin. I owed it to myself and to my family to get healthy and really make a change to ensure I am around for them for as long as I possibly can be.

By some coincidence, a temporary security guard at my work had mentioned he lost 14 kilograms on The Man Shake, a nutritional meal-replacement drink created by rugby league legend and fitness guru Adam MacDougall. I had never heard of it before so I bought a sample packet and found a flavour or two that I really liked and thought, This could be the answer. I started by trying to work out a routine. I saw Adam post a video on YouTube about intermittent fasting, so I thought I’d give it a go as well. Midnight snacking and late-night treats were always my biggest problem, along with regular soft drink consumption.

I ditched all that and replaced it with a rather simple meal plan: 10am shake; 12pm healthy snack; 2pm shake; 4pm healthy snack; 6:30pm healthy dinner. And that’s what I have stuck to for the past nine months and here I am, tipping the scales at 88 kilograms and playing the best golf of my life.

Matt Jurd: Half The Person

It’s not an overstatement to say this product literally saved my life. I can honestly say that without it, I’d still be heavier than 170 kilograms and no doubt developed several serious health conditions by now.

But diet was only one important piece of the puzzle to this lifestyle change. I knew I needed to get active. I’ve said many, many times to people that ask me, walking is really the only exercise you need to get healthy and drop weight. Just get active, get off the lounge and walk!

Walking was all I started doing, slowly at first and then increasing speed and incline over time. I thought, If walking is beneficial, why not walk around chasing a little white ball?

For me, a game of golf is a great workout because I’m usually zig-zagging the fairways to find my ball, so I always get plenty of steps in.

Since losing those 80 kilograms, my swing has become a little more fluid and I’m not topping the ball anymore because my arms now have the freedom to go where they want without having to navigate around my belly.

Better golf is one of those surprise rewards you don’t even think about.

I’m under no illusions – I’m never going to set the world on fire, but I’d love to become a bogey golfer. If I can just start eliminating those doubles/triples and ‘unmentionables’ and transition into bogey golf, that would be fantastic. Most importantly, I’m having fun again. I love jogging up a fairway and just getting out there and being active. There are really awful ways to get healthy and exercise; golf isn’t one of them.

I’m no longer scared to enter the pro shop, either. I could never find clothes to fit as an 8XL, and if they did, they looked terrible. That stuff really gets into your head. Now I’m in a size L shirt and 36 pants and enjoy shopping for golf clothes. I’m loving my new bright blue pants and purple shirt from Fayde Golf. I’m a huge fan of the bright, bold clothes. It’s so liberating to feel good and look good on the course – it actually helps build confidence, which helps my swing.

If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change, my advice is simple: just start. Make the decision and figure the rest out as you go. It’s a constant evolution. Your golf game will improve as you get healthier, whether it’s through losing weight, doing some extra cardio or lifting weights. Better golf is one of those surprise rewards you don’t even think about.

Golf is a great analogy for life – some days you’ll shank a shot and eat something you shouldn’t, but make sure you stay consistent and try your best to eat healthy and do some exercise. Plod along up that fairway and hopefully those birdies will come.

Some days I wake up feeling like I’ve won a Major just because life seems so much brighter nowadays.

What golfer doesn’t want to know that feeling?