A 37-year-old slimmer from Daventry has hit the back of the net after reaching the semi-finals of a competition to find the UK and Ireland’s top male slimmers, where he met footballing legend Dion Dublin.
Des Pratt was one of just 32 men to win a place at the semi-finals of Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2016 competition after losing an impressive 8st 8.5lbs.
It was there that he was congratulated by former Coventry, Aston Villa and Leicester City star Dion.
Des, who slimmed from 23st 9.5lbs to 15st 1lb, believes it can be hard for men to admit that they need help to lose weight, and that it is especially difficult for them to walk through the doors of a slimming club for the first time.
He said: “When men think about losing weight it usually involves hitting the gym or trying to eat less without really telling anyone.
“Joining Slimming World was a big step for me, I’m so glad I had the courage to walk through those doors though.”
New research backs up Des’s view, too. A recent study by Slimming World found that 72 per cent of men thought that increasing physical activity was the most socially-acceptable weight-loss method, followed by losing weight on their own (67 per cent) and taking advice from their GP (54 per cent).
However, while men are less likely than women to attend slimming groups, research shows that when they do attend they are actually more successful than their female counterparts and they find the groups to be much more man-friendly than they expected.
Des said: “I was a bit worried that I’d end up on a diet of just lettuce, so I couldn’t believe it when I joined Slimming World and my consultant explained that I could still eat burgers, chips, steaks and curries as long as I made a few healthy swaps in terms of the way I cooked and prepared them.
“I thought I’d be hungry all the time but it’s been surprisingly easy to follow because I’ve never once felt deprived. I could even still enjoy the odd drink with my mates, which definitely helped too.
“Of course I was worried that as a man I’d stand out like a sore thumb when I first joined!
“It wasn’t like that at all though; everyone was really supportive and welcoming. All the hints, tips and recipes you pick up in group are really helpful too.
“You soon come to realise that everyone is in that room for the same reason.
“I was a bit hesitant to tell my friends I was going to a slimming group in the beginning, by the time they noticed that I was losing weight I had no problem singing Slimming World’s praises. It’s even encouraged me to think about how active I am too, so I’ve taken up running.
“When I first started losing weight I had no idea I’d end up at the semi-finals of a national competition. I’ve been overwhelmed by the stories of the other finalists and meeting Dion made it all the better as I’ve got a great story to tell my mates now.”
Dion said: “Health and fitness formed a huge part of my career as a footballer, so I know how much effort and dedication it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“It was a pleasure to meet Des and hear all about his weight loss. He’s taken a really big and important step – a step which a lot of men would find too daunting – I think many people would be guilty of thinking that going to a slimming club isn’t very macho.
“It takes a lot to recognise that you have a weight problem and then be brave enough to do something about it – he’s a top man in my book.”
Kate Isaac, who runs the Daventry group that Des attends, says she is very proud of her super slimmer. She said: “A lot of men think that slimming clubs are a woman-only zone, and Des is living proof that this isn’t the case.
“Men need just as much support as women to slim down and improve their health. I’m so proud of everything Des has achieved.
“Slimming World works for everyone, so I hope Des inspires lots of other men in Daventry who’d like to lose weight to take that step and join our group at Daventry Brass Band Hall or call me on 07585508734.”
While Des reached the final 10 of the competition, he was not the overall winner. The title was taken by Danny Crosby, from Altrincham, who has lost 8st.