An Antrim man has hit the back of the net after reaching the semi-finals of a competition to find the UK and Ireland’s top male slimmers.
Slimmer Leslie Western (66) was one of 43 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2018 competition after losing an impressive 9st 3lbs. It was there that he was congratulated by the former Liverpool, Watford and England hero, international football star John Barnes.
Leslie, who slimmed from 22st 9.5lbs to 13st 6.5lbs at the Antrim Slimming World group, believes it can be hard for men to admit that they need help to lose weight, and that it is especially difficult for them to walk through the doors of a slimming club for the first time.
He said: “I first joined Slimming World with my daughter because I was on the waiting list for two knee replacements and was advised I needed to lose weight first. When I went back for my pre-op assessment 17 months later the doctor said I no longer needed the operation urgently as all the pain had dissappered as a result of the weight loss. I’m so glad I had the courage to walk through those doors. In fact, I haven’t looked back since!”
“I think I had a really negative view of weight loss before I joined Slimming World, I thought I’d be constantly hungry and have to give up all of my favourite foods. I couldn’t have been more wrong though, I eat just as much as before, if not more. The beauty of Slimming World is that I can fill up on all of my favourite foods and lose weight without depriving myself. Steak and chips, cooked breakfasts and curries are all still on the menu, I’ve just had to make some simple swaps like ditching the olive oil or butter in favour of low-calorie cooking spray and trimming the fat off of meat.
“I did worry that I’d be the only bloke in the room, I wasn’t though. And, even if I ever was, it wouldn’t matter because everyone is there for the same reason and it’s such a supportive and friendly environment. All the hints, tips and recipes you pick up in group are really helpful too.
“Losing weight has even encouraged me to think about how active I am too, and have been able to resume my passion for photography. I was unable to continue to do this when I was overweight as my mobility was so poor and I couldn’t walk long distances. I can now explore and photograph to my heart’s content. Getting to meet John was great too, I never knew losing weight would have this many perks!”
John, who has now hung up his football boots to become a successful pundit, was blown away by the achievements of the men he met at the competition. He said: “As a footballer, health and fitness has formed a huge part of my life, so I know how much effort and dedication it can take to stay fit and healthy – both mentally and physically. It was a pleasure to meet Leslie – I can’t believe his transformation, he doesn’t look like the same bloke. I think a lot of men find it really difficult to admit they have a problem with something and then seek the help they need to fix it. It’s not an easy thing to do so Leslie has my utmost respect. I have to say the food he makes looks delicious too – I might have to have a go at a few recipes myself.”