Hartlepool super-slimmer meets football legend John Barnes

Stephen Wallace with John Barnes
Stephen Wallace with John Barnes

Hartlepool slimmer Steve Wallace came face-to-face with one of his sporting heroes after reaching the semi-final of a national competition.

The 58-year-old lost more than 6st to become one of 43 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2018 competition, where he met former England footballer John Barnes.

Stephen Wallace before his weight loss

Stephen Wallace before his weight loss

Steve, who slimmed from 20st 11.5lbs to 14st at the Golden Lion Slimming World group, believes it can be hard for men to admit that they need help to lose weight.

He said: “I’m so glad I had the courage to walk through those doors. In fact, I haven’t looked back since.”

Slimming World’s recent ‘Machobesity Report’, revealed that while 95% of men want to lose weight, mainly for health reasons, men typically keep weight worries to themselves for more than six years on average.

Once they set their mind to it though, men do seem to be good at slimming down, losing an impressive 5.7% of body weight in three months at Slimming World, while women on average lose 4.3%.

I think I had a really negative view of weight loss before I joined Slimming World, I thought I’d be constantly hungry and have to give up all of my favourite foods.

Steve Wallace

“I think I had a really negative view of weight loss before I joined Slimming World, I thought I’d be constantly hungry and have to give up all of my favourite foods,” said Steve.

“I couldn’t have been more wrong though, I eat just as much as before, if not more. The beauty of Slimming World is that I can fill up on all of my favourite foods and lose weight without depriving myself.

“Steak and chips, cooked breakfasts and curries are all still on the menu, I’ve just had to make some simple swaps like ditching the olive oil or butter in favour of low-calorie cooking spray and trimming the fat off of meat.

“I did worry that I’d be the only bloke in the room, I wasn’t though. And, even if I ever was, it wouldn’t matter because everyone is there for the same reason and it’s such a supportive and friendly environment. All the hints, tips and recipes you pick up in group are really helpful too.

“Losing weight has even encouraged me to think about how active I am too, so I’ve taken up hiking again and I walk between 5-8 miles a day with my black Labrador, Max.

“Getting to meet John was great too, I never knew losing weight would have this many perks.”

John, is now a successful pundit, said: “As a footballer, health and fitness has formed a huge part of my life, so I know how much effort and dedication it can take to stay fit and healthy – both mentally and physically.

“It was a pleasure to meet Steve – I can’t believe his transformation, he doesn’t look like the same bloke.

“I think a lot of men find it really difficult to admit they have a problem with something and then seek the help they need to fix it. It’s not an easy thing to do so Steve has my utmost respect.”

Sarah Dickenson who runs the Golden Lion group, added: “A lot of men think that slimming clubs are female-only zones, so Steve is living proof that this isn’t the case.”