Weigh Forward contestant Tony Mann has had a 30-year battle with his weight.
Ever since he was 12, he has put on more than half a stone a year.
But now Tony is fighting back in real style and lost more weight than any contestant in the first week of the competition.
Tony, 44, was full of trepidation when he stepped on the scales for the first weigh-in to be held in the Weigh Forward competition, run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Tavistock Leisure and personal trainer Steven Smith.
And when he learned the results, he was a man struggling for words. He’d lost 17lbs in one week.
“I was gobsmacked. Now I can’t wait for the next weigh-in,” said Tony, whose weight has been a struggle since his early days at comprehensive school.
“I was 12st when I was 12, and I was 13st when I was 13,” admitted the maintenance and cleaning operative for Hartlepool Families First charity.
“When I was in the first year of senior school I was that big I was in the third year rugby squad.”
But town resident Tony has always faced life with a will to succeed and now he’s doing it in the Weigh Forward competition.
He’s loving the feeling of “everyone in it together” in the training sessions. “So far, the whole experience has been absolutely fabulous,” he said. “Everyone is encouraging each other and you could not buy the friendship that we have developed.
“Every one of those contestants is a winner in my eyes. They are a really good bunch of people and they are all doing it for the right reasons.”
The pluses, said Tony, include “working as a group”. The minuses are the jogging elements. “I am not built for running,” said the man who eventually wants to lose nine stone.
He has thrown himself totally into the challenge.
“I look forward to the next session because it is so motivational. And when things are getting tough, I remember how much pain I was in before.
“I remember what it was like when I went up and down the steps on the seafront at that first training session.
“When I go to the fridge, I just think how much my legs were aching that first time. It helps me to remember to get a piece of fruit and not a cream cake or a bag of crisps.”
His reason for entering, he said, was to battle back against type 2 diabetes. He wants to shed more weight and finally come off the medication.
He praised personal trainer Steven Smith for the tuition and motivation to do well.
The weight loss challenge will eventually see one person win a hotel stay and one-to-one personal training for two months.
And for one runner-up, a month’s supply of personal training is the fantastic offer.
Steven can be contacted on 07861520717.