PAUL Shepherd didn’t let being the only man in his slimming class put him off fighting the flab – he lost almost five stone in just nine months.
The 36-year-old joined a Weight Watchers group at the end of last July, when he tipped the scales at 16st 11lbs.
But just nine months on, he has shed a staggering 4st 10lb and is a more slender 12st 1lb.
He has slimmed from a 38-40in waist and an XL-size shirt down to a 32in waist and medium shirt.
Paul said the weight had crept on about 12 years ago when he “started working and didn’t really look after myself”.
He started to get breathless just doing day-to-day activities and a trip to his doctor revealed he had high blood pressure.
So Paul, who lives in the Oakerside area of Peterlee and works as a project manager for Janus International, based on the North West Industrial Estate, in Peterlee, decided to take action.
He signed up to Jaime Coutts’ Weight Watchers class, based at the Southside Social Club in Easington Village, and has never looked back.
Now he is a member of the Run Peterlee running club and just last weekend completed the South Tyneside 10k in just under 47 minutes – which he admits he would never imagine he would have been doing this time last year.
He joined the running club in November, having began to run on his on in August, slowly building up from a mixture of walking and running.
Paul, who is married to Deanne, 37, who works for Barclays Bank at Doxford Park, in Sunderland, said: “I tried lots of diets before, but I think Weight Watchers really worked for me.
“You can still have a bit of everything you want, you don’t have to cut anything out in particular and you can still go out for a meal.”
Before his weight loss, Paul would go without breakfast, lunch would be a pastie or a sandwich and he would have a takeaway or burgers for an evening meal.
Now he has cereal for breakfast, a healthy ready meal or low-fat sandwich for lunch and a cooked dinner for his evening meal, as well as fruit to snack on.
Paul said: “I’m a lot more confident now and have a lot more energy to do things.
“Getting out and doing exercise is a big part of it.
“Deanne is proud of me and she is glad I have done something about it.”
He said his message to other men who may be put off the thought of joining a slimming group because of gender stigmas, is: “Go for it – it can make a big difference.
“Once you get past the initial walking through the door, everyone makes you really welcome and once you’ve been there a while it doesn’t seem a big deal.”
Group leader Jaime Coutts said: “Paul is a total inspiration to our group.”