A 39-year-old slimmer from Dronfield has scored big after reaching the semi-finals of a competition to find the UK and Ireland’s top male slimmers, where he met international football star Wayne Bridge.
Neil Middleton was one of just 38 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2017 competition after losing an impressive 10st 2.5lbs. It was there that he was congratulated by the former Chelsea, Manchester City and England hero.
Neil, who slimmed from 25st 5lbs to 15st 2.5lbs at the Dronfield 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.
Neil says: “It took quite a lot for me to admit that I had a weight problem to begin with, so actually deciding to do something about it and join my local Slimming World group was another big step. Thankfully I came to the conclusion that my health and happiness was the most important thing and plucked up the courage to go along that first time. My only regret now is that I didn’t join Slimming World sooner.”
Last year’s ‘Machobesity Report’, by Slimming World, revealed that while 95% of men want to lose weight, mainly for health reasons, men typically keep weight worries to themselves for more than six years on average. Once they set their mind to it though, men do seem to be good at slimming down. While women lose an average of 4.3% of their body weight in three months at Slimming World, men lose an impressive 5.7%.
Neil continues: “I was a bit concerned I’d have to survive on a bit of salad! I couldn’t have been more wrong though, I eat just as much as before now, if not more. The beauty of Slimming World is that I can fill up on all of my favourite foods and lose weight without ever having to go hungry. 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.
“I was a bit hesitant to tell people I was going to a slimming group at first, but once they noticed I was losing weight, the results spoke for themselves and I didn’t get any of the comments I expected. I have no problem singing Slimming World’s praises now! It’s even encouraged me to think about how active I am too, so I’ve taken up running. I’ve gone from being unable to run for 30 seconds to running half marathons in 1 hour 43 minutes in just 10 months. I am now preparing for my first marathon. Getting to meet Wayne was great too, I never knew losing weight would have this many perks!”
Wayne, who has now hung up his football boots and appeared on I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!, was blown away by the achievements of the men he met at the competition. He says: “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 Neil and I can’t believe his transformation, he doesn’t look like the same bloke!
“I really have to take my hat off to him for recognising that he had a problem and then having the courage to do something about it. I think many people would be guilty of thinking that going to a slimming club isn’t very manly so that makes it even harder for men to take that first step. He’s definitely a top bloke in my book.”
Roz Newton, who runs the Dronfield group that Neil attends, says she is very proud of her super slimmer. She says: “A lot of men think that slimming clubs are female-only zones, and Neil is living proof that this isn’t the case. In fact, there are now 60,000 men attending Slimming World groups, which goes to show that men need just as much support as women to slim down and improve their health. Slimming World works for everyone, so I hope Neil inspires lots of other men in Dronfield who’d like to lose weight to take that step and join our group at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School or call me on 07837 784415.”
Unfortunately, Neil was not the overall winner of the competition.