RYAN Mania has won the battle with his weight and is loving life back in the saddle.
The top jock retired in November 2014 at the age of 24 – just 18 months after guiding shock 66-1 winner Auroras Encore to victory in the Grand National.
The Scot, 32, struggled to keep his weight down and was virtually starving himself day-to-day.
After years of going hungry and tortuous sessions in the sauna, he decided to pack it in.
He said: "Life just got very tricky, in my personal life and my racing life. It was all to do with my day-to-day struggle with my weight.
"It affects your mind, your mind is tired, you're fatigued the whole time and it puts negative thoughts in your head and you just can't cope with it.
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"You're not eating, you're in and out of saunas, you're putting the body under so much strain. You've little energy and you're expected to go out and handle this moving animal.
"The worst thing in the world for a jockey is to stand on the scales in the morning and be 7lbs heavier than you want to be. It's like the world is ending, it's horrible. And that was happening every day. It took its toll."
But he returned after a five-year absence in October 2019 and he is feeling better than ever, having felt 'weedy' earlier in his career.
He has forged a successful partnership with trainer Sandy Thomson, with the pair teaming up for big wins with Seeyouatmidnight and Yorkhill already this winter.
And most importantly, a has a new, strict, calorie-controlled nutritional plan which helps him keep his weight down without fasting.
Each meal is no more than 500 calories, with a typical day including porridge and fruit for breakfast, baked potato and tuna for lunch and chilli con carne for dinner – plus a shed load a water.
He said: "I'm fitter and stronger than I've ever been. I genuinely feel amazing when I'm riding – I feel very strong and fit – and I'm never hungry as I'm eating properly.
"Drinking a lot of water has it's complications. It's difficult as a jockey because you do a lot of driving and I found myself having to pull off the motorway quite a lot!
"I was riding at a similar sort of weight the first time but I was sweating a lot, which I don't do now. I don't have to kill myself in the sauna anymore.
"Now I'm hydrated and well nourished, my body and brain are working a lot better. You feel more like a professional athlete rather than some skinny, little weedy jockey."
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