Portsmouth man 'too big' for a theme park ride sheds six stones in obesity battle
Anthony Wood’s life changed completely after an ‘embarrassing and upsetting incident’ at a theme park caused him to rethink his health.
It was 2017, he weighed 18 stones and eight pounds and was queuing for a ride. And that was the precise moment which inspired him to finally shake off the shackles of obesity.
He could not bear the thought of appearing ‘so big’ in the build-up to his wedding day and he knew then that his emotional eating habits needed to grind to a halt.
Anthony, 36, explains: ‘It was a horrible incident at a theme park with my son that summer. I queued for a ride with him, and when I got to the ride I sat down to find the staff member couldn’t do up my seat belt so I had to get back off.
‘That walk of shame was one of the worst feelings I have ever felt and even more so that my son was there to see it.’
It was not the first time Anthony had been told to exit a ride. It had happened on multiple occasions.
But today, after years battling with his weight gain since childhood, he is a proud consultant for Slimming World at Buckland, Portsmouth, having taken the plunge to join the dieting organisation four years ago – originally to support his sister.
From there the exercise junkie smashed his own goals by shedding an astonishing amount of weight leading to him becoming ‘the only male consultant in the Portsmouth area’.
He says: ‘My sister suggested we go to Slimming World because she wanted to lose a bit of weight for a holiday, and she didn’t want to go on her own. She said to me: “Why don’t we give it a go. You’re unhappy with your weight, let’s just see what it’s all about”.
‘At the time I didn’t really want to join a slimming group because I didn’t think it was something men did. I thought it was just a woman thing.
‘But the minute I went into the group I was convinced. It was really great to go in and see all these people that are losing weight who want to lose weight for their own reasons. I signed up there and then with my sister and I've never looked back.
‘I was so nervous but my consultant was so warm and friendly that she instantly reassured me and began to explain the magic of the Slimming World plan. All those thoughts and doubts just melted away.’
Anthony joined Slimming World in August 2017 where in the space of just 10 months he lost six stones. When Anthony first started losing weight, one of the first activities he ‘fell in love with’ was running. Now it’s embedded in his life he can’t stop, having run The Great South Run twice with plans to run it again this October.
For the Tesco delivery driver from Buckland, this achievemen t was sensational after previously trying many diet plans .
However, this one has had a lasting impact, as Anthony finds it manageable, fitting in around his day-to-day routines, it was something he could implement long term, unlike a less sustainable crash course. In fact he didn’t even consider it a diet – more a lifestyle change. The focus was on introducing the right foods without having to cut out takeaway night or his favourite chocolate bar.
Anthony says: ‘My diet now is definitely more balanced and manageable.
‘ It's very easy, I can still eat the things I didn't think I would be able to eat again. Slimming World taught me there is no such thing as a food you can't have.’
Prior to Slimming World, Anthony often found himself in an emotional feeding frenzy.
However he felt, happy or sad, he would eat ‘anything and everything’. Calories, fat content and the damage he was doing to his body through overeating weren’t even after-thoughts until he found his current plan .
He says: ‘This was about getting my lifestyle balance right and introducing more healthy eating – filling up on fruit and vegetables, eating lean meat as well cooking hearty family meals. And you can still enjoy all the things you really like.
‘The food optimiser pl an that they've got for everybody just works. I can't fault it. I shout it from the rooftops all the time, that' s why I decided to do it as a job because I love it so much.
‘The way it's changed my life and how happy I am now, I want to do that for other people because the help is there. It's not a diet, it's never called a diet, it's just a lifestyle change. I never have to go without my takeaway, I can still eat my chocolate like how I used to eat, yet the difference now is that I understand better and listen to my body more.
‘When I'm full up I don't need to overeat.’
After lockdown, Anthony was keen to launch his own Slimming World group every Monday evening at St Margaret’s Community Church, Southsea, spurred on by old habits where low mood caused him to revert to some of his old ways.
For many others, the confinement of lockdown offered a similar story as weight gain took hold.
And for Anthony, his own group was an opportunity to reach out to other people, who like him, were on their own journey to shedding the pounds.
It was on receiving some encouraging words from his Slimming World consultant that catapulted his fitness journey today.
He explains: ‘I stuck with Slimming World during lockdown. It helped to go virtual because obviously face-to-face groups were not allowed but I stuck with it, I kept my weight off, and then my consultant saw something in me and she said "this job is for you, you could do this job". She said "go to an opportunity event hear what it's all about and if you like the sound of it, go for it", so that's what I did. That was at the end of February/March time. The opportunity event was all done virtually, I did my interview and they said "you'd be a great asset for Slimming World".’
Of the many obstacles Anthony Woods encountered on his journey to a healthier life , the 36-year-old found many diet programmes were aimed at women. For men like him, Anthony said it was demoralising.
He says: ‘As someone on the outside looking in for the first time, whenever you think about losing weight, it seemed like a very womanly thing to do. If men were trying to lose weight it didn’t feel like a manly thing.
‘Men build this barrier a lot of the time. They're supposed to be the tough people. I'm not ashamed to say I reached out for help.
‘If I'd carried on the way I was going I don't know where I would be now if I'm honest.’
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