A Crawley man who was shocked into losing weight by his doctor, has finished in the top ten of a competition to find the UK and Ireland’s top male slimmers.
Andrew Newson from Maidenbower was one of just 32 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2016 competition after losing 8st 11.5lbs. There he met footballer Dion Dublin.
Andrew, 52, who started his slimming journey at 22st 5.5lbs and on a cocktail on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol, believes it can be hard for men to admit that they need help to lose weight.
He said: “When men think about losing weight it usually involves hitting the gym or trying to eat less without really telling anyone. Joining Slimming World was a big step for me, I’m so glad I had the courage to walk through those doors though.”
He added: “Of course I was worried that as a man I’d stand out like a sore thumb when I first joined. It wasn’t like that at all though; everyone was really supportive and welcoming. All the hints, tips and recipes you pick up in group are really helpful too. You soon come to realise that everyone is in that room for the same reason.”
He has since taken up running and cycling again and also went on a ten-day trek to Peru in March.
New research backs up Andrew’s view or men finding it harder to admit they need help.
A recent study by Slimming World found that 72 per cent of men thought that increasing physical activity was the most socially-acceptable weight-loss method, followed by losing weight on their own (67 per cent) and taking advice from their GP (54 per cent).
However, while men are less likely than women to attend slimming groups, research shows that when they do attend they are actually more successful than their female counterparts and they find the groups to be much more man-friendly than they expected.
Andrew continues: “I was a bit worried that I’d end up on a diet of just lettuce, so I couldn’t believe it when I joined Slimming World and my Consultant explained that I could still eat burgers, chips, steaks and curries as long as I made a few healthy swaps in terms of the way I cooked and prepared them. I thought I’d be hungry all the time but it’s been surprisingly easy to follow because I’ve never once felt deprived. I could even still enjoy the odd drink with my mates, which definitely helped too. Losing weight has also helped me to come off all of my prescription medication for cholesterol and blood pressure.
“I was a bit hesitant to tell my friends I was going to a slimming group in the beginning, by the time they noticed that I was losing weight I had no problem singing Slimming World’s praises though!
“It’s even encouraged me to think about how active I am too. I can now run 10km, easily cycle 20-40km per week, I’ve passed my advanced diving certification and regularly work out at the gym. In March I also completed a gruelling 10-day charity trek to Peru.”
When Andrew first started losing weight he had no idea he would end up at the semi-finals of a national competition. He has been overwhelmed by the stories of the other finalists and meeting former Coventry, Aston Villa and Leicester City footballing star Dion Dublin made it all the better as he has a great story to tell his mates now.
Dion, who has now hung up his football boots to present hit daytime TV show Homes under the Hammer, was blown away by the achievements of the men he met at the competition.
He says: “Health and fitness formed a huge part of my career as a footballer, so I know how much effort and dedication it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It was a pleasure to meet Andrew and hear all about his weight loss. He’s taken a really big and important step – a step which a lot of men would find too daunting – I think many people would be guilty of thinking that going to a slimming club isn’t very macho. It takes a lot to recognise that you have a weight problem and then be brave enough to do something about it – he’s a top man in my book.”
Carly Milham, who runs the Maidenbower group that Andrew attends, says she is very proud of her super slimmer. She says: “A lot of men think that slimming clubs are a woman-only zone, and Andrew is living proof that this isn’t the case. Men need just as much support as women to slim down and improve their health. I’m so proud of everything Andrew has achieved. Slimming World works for everyone, so I hope Andrew inspires lots of other men in Crawley who’d like to lose weight to take that step and join our group at The Brook School or call me on 07758 217870.”
Unfortunately, Andrew was not the overall winner of the competition. The title was taken by Danny Crosby, from Altrincham, who has lost 8st.