A man who has been named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek 2019, is now fighting fit, has completed numerous half marathons and is a keen American football player.
Ross Hebden, 36, who works in insurance and lives in Gloucestershire with his wife Amanda, 36, and their three children Ailla, six, Rewan, four, and Elowen, one, weighed 18st 8½lbs at his heaviest.
He had struggled with his weight since childhood and his unhealthy eating habits continued when he met his wife Amanda, as they settled into a routine of enjoying indulgent meals and cosy takeaways together.
The dad-of-three was once so overweight he struggled to fit into an aeroplane seat, but he has gone on to lose more than 5st after swapping his bacon sandwiches and doughnuts for chicken salads and fat-free Greek yoghurt – and has picked up a national slimming award.
Before: Ross Hebden, 36, from Gloucestershire weighed 18st 8½lbs at his heaviest. His diet consisted of a bacon sandwich on white buttered bread with ketchup for breakfast, a triple-layer sandwich with crisps for lunch and Chicken tikka masala for dinner
Now, Ross weighs 13st 7lbs and has overhauled his diet. He has a ‘grill up’ for breakfast, a large chicken salad for lunch and homemade sticky teriyaki pork for dinner
Ross was over the moon to be named Mr Sleek in Slimming World’s 50th anniversary year.
‘I’ve battled with my weight for much of my life, so living as an overweight person had become a daily struggle,’ he explained.
‘The first time I set foot on an plane I think it really hit me just how big I’d become.
‘We were going on a holiday to Turkey with friends and I could just about buckle the seatbelt. I was too embarrassed to ask for an extender though, so I spent the whole flight feeling squashed and uncomfortable, especially when the in-flight meal arrived because I could barely get the tray down over my stomach.’
The newly crowned Mr Slinky 2019 described the turning point as the moment he went on a trip to buy a new family car. He said: ‘We had a photograph taken at the garage to celebrate. When I saw it my heart sank’
The dad-of-three battled with his weight for much of his life. He said the moment he realised just how big he’d got was when he was on the plane heading to Turkey and was too ’embrassed’ to ask for a seatbelt extender
Ross Hebden, 36, who works in insurance, lives with his wife Amanda, 36, and their three children Ailla, six, Rewan, four, and Elowen, one (above)
Ross received an email at work by mistake which called him ‘fat’ and ‘ugly.’ Now he has been crowned Mr Slinky and is fighting fit
It was following a cruel work email that Ross received by mistake that left him feeling ashamed of his weight.
‘It had got to the stage where I was almost used to people making comments about my size,’ said the dad-of-three. ‘But when an email went around at work which called me the ‘fat and ugly bloke,’ I was devastated. I wasn’t supposed to receive it, but that didn’t matter – my self-worth was completely destroyed and I just couldn’t shake it off.’
ROSS’ VITAL STATS
Starting weight: 18st 8½lbs/260½lbs/118kg
Current weight: 13st 7lbs/189lbs/86kg
Weight loss: 5st 1½lbs/71½lbs/32kg
Starting waist measurement: 42in
Current waist measurement: 34in
Date joined Slimming World: 13th June 2017
Group: Ross attends the Newtown Tewkesbury Slimming World group in Gloucestershire run by Kathryn Stevens
In the past Ross tried to lose the pounds by upping his exercise levels, but without a healthy eating plan to go alongside it, his progress was often slow and frustrating.
‘I was getting physically fitter, yet I still wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I hadn’t done anything to address my eating habits,’ he explained. ‘Plus, if I did lose some weight I found it really hard to keep it off.
‘I yo-yoed like this for a few years until I decided to enter the Tewkesbury Half Marathon. Almost as soon as I started my training I badly injured my knee, which I knew was down to the extra weight I was carrying.’
The newly crowned Mr Slinky 2019 finally made a pact to ditch the extra pounds following a trip to buy a new family car.
‘We had a photograph taken at the garage to celebrate,’ he said. ‘When I saw it my heart sank. Despite the exercise, I could see I was almost getting back to my biggest and deep down I knew that if I really wanted to lose weight, I had to look at what I was eating.’
He added: ‘Amanda had recently given birth to Elowen and was joining her local Slimming World group to lose some baby weight, so I thought I’d bite the bullet and go along with her.’
At first Ross was worried that he’d have to go hungry in order to lose weight, so he was surprised to learn that he could still enjoy all of his favourite meals – they just had to be prepared and cooked in a different way.
For breakfast he swapped his bacon sandwiches for a healthy ‘grill up,’ lunch was a large chicken salad rather than a triple-layer sandwich with crisps, while his usual calorie-laden chicken tikka masala dinner was switched for homemade sticky teriyaki pork.
Ross said he was surprised to learn that he could still enjoy all of his favourite meals – they just had to be prepared and cooked in a different way
Slinky Ross has completed numerous half marathons and is now a keen American football player – something he wasn’t able to do before
‘Amanda had followed Slimming World’s eating plan before so I knew the meals tasted nice, yet I still worried that I’d have to give up my favourite foods,’ said Ross.
‘Going to the group really opened my eyes to a whole new way of eating though. I realised that with a few adjustments I could still enjoy a bacon sandwich for breakfast, I just needed to trim the fat off my meat and switch to wholemeal bread.’
He continued: ‘Joining a group made everything click for me and part of that was definitely because of the other members. I was worried I’d be the only man there and I’d feel out of place, yet everyone was so welcoming and supportive that it really helped me to hit the ground running. I haven’t looked back since and neither has Amanda, she’s lost 3st 6.5lbs too!’
Breakfast: A bacon sandwich on white buttered bread with ketchup
Snack: Chocolate bar or bag of crisps
Lunch: Triple-layer sandwich with crisps, chocolate, fizzy drink and a doughnut or two
Dinner: Chicken tikka masala made with a sauce from a jar and served with a garlic naan bread
Snack: Doughnuts, biscuits, cookies, share-size bag of crisps
Breakfast: A ‘grill up’ made with low-fat sausages, lean bacon, beans, tomatoes and eggs fried in a pan sprayed with low-calorie cooking spray
Mid-morning: An apple
Lunch: A large chicken salad followed by a hi-fibre cereal bar
Dinner: Homemade sticky teriyaki pork served with vegetables and wholegrain rice or homemade cheesy chicken risotto
Evening snack: Small chocolate bar or flavoured fat-free Greek yogurt, low-fat ice cream or a hot chocolate with marshmallows
Now a keen runner and gym enthusiast, Ross has another hobby which has benefitted greatly from his weight loss.
‘I’ve always had a keen interest in American football – it was a sport I could play even at my biggest,’ he explained. ‘Back then I formed part of the offensive line as I was a big bloke… although now I’m too slim for that position!
‘I’ve switched roles to a more attacking position which sees me move around and affect the play a lot more, and I absolutely love it. Nowadays running is much easier too and I’ve completed several half marathons in under two hours, which is something I never really thought possible.’
The most important change Ross’ weight loss has brought is a little closer to home though.
‘For me, everything that I have done has been for my family,’ he said. ‘I wanted to support my wife on her Slimming World journey, but I also wanted to be the best possible father to my kids.
‘I was becoming the kind of dad who was tired all the time or was too out of breath to play with them, and that wasn’t who I wanted to be. Now I’ve got plenty of energy to keep up with my three wonderful children and I couldn’t be happier about that.’
Ross only realised the extent of his journey an dhow much he’d achieved when it came to having to get on a plane again.
‘We were flying to Spain, and this time around it was such a different experience,’ said Ross. ‘I had plenty of room, my knees didn’t dig into the seat in front and I could pull the table down with ease! I feel like a totally different person, one that is full of confidence and ready to take on whatever life throws at me.’