A group of work colleagues are reaping the health benefits after shedding a mountain of weight between them.
Four South Tyneside Council employees have told how a mixture of healthy eating and exercise has led to their dramatic weight loss of almost 15 stone collectively.
David Bloomfield, John Bowen, Ian Ellis and John Graham, who work as part of the Street Cleansing Team, have turned their lives around and feel much healthier after losing their excess baggage.
Area attendant John Bowen, who has been diabetic for the past 15 years, admits he has always struggled with his weight.
The 49-year-old, who did not want to give his starting weight, has lost more than four stones, but still has a way to go to get to his ideal size.
He said: “Losing four-and-a-half stone is great and will help lower my blood pressure. I can sometimes walk up to 10 miles a day in my job but cutting out the pies and eating more healthily has made a big difference towards my weight loss.”
Mechanical brush driver John Graham, 57, has lost four stone, and is hoping that by carrying on eating healthily and doing regular exercise he can lose another four stone this year.
“When I feel hungry between meals I attack the fruit bowl, which stops me snacking on something that’s fattening,” he said.
“I’m determined to lose the rest of my weight as I already feel so much better.”
A number of the work colleagues decided to tackle their weight problems after they were recommended by their employer to attend a Well Man’s Clinic for a medical check-up.
Ian, 46, who is a heavy goods vehicle driver based at the Middlefields site in South Tyneside, has lost four stone after swapping cream cakes for a healthier diet of fish and chicken.
The father-of-two dropped from just under 18st to just under 14st and has never felt better.
He said: “When I went to the Well Man’s Clinic I was told that I was obese and that was a shock to me.
“It was what I needed to kick start me into losing weight as I have always been a big boy, but I didn’t realise I’d got so large.
“I’ve now gone from buying trousers in a 40in waist to a 34in and I’m really proud of my achievement. I’d wanted to lose weight and taking part in the training programme at work and also having a health check really gave me the inspiration to lead a healthier lifestyle.
“I feel much, much better now and I’m not as out of breath as I used to be.”
Recent figures by health firm Bupa showed that 26% of men abandon their diets after one day.
And while experts said shedding stones worked best with a combination of a healthy diet and exercise, only 30% of people said they would always do physical activity alongside a diet.
Yet for David, who is the street cleansing supervisor, he has no intention of going back to how he used to be as he has seen his health dramatically improve in the past few months since he started taking care of what he consumes.
The 60-year-old said: “It was through taking part in a work training programme called Every Contact a Health Improvement Contact that I decided to do something about my weight which was creeping up.
“After seeing what a decent portion size should be and how much food you should actually have on your plate I’ve now lost nearly two-and-a-half stone.
“After having an NHS Health Check at work I was advised to go and see my GP and he told me that I was suffering with high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol which were all linked to my weight.
“Since losing the excess weight these have all gone down to healthier levels and I feel much better now.”
Figures released by Public Health England revealed that 68% of adults in South Tyneside are overweight. The council is committed to tackling obesity and is developing a Change4Life Integrated Wellbeing Service following a recent obesity review.
The new service will help local people make positive changes to their health by offering support to those who want to lead healthier lifestyles.
Coun Fay Cunningham, South Tyneside Council’s Health and Wellbeing Lead Member, praised the team for losing the weight and improving their health.
She said: “The team are an inspiration to us all and they’re clearly reaping the health rewards. Losing a combined weight of nearly 15 stone is such an achievement. It’s great that they’re willing to share their journey, which shows how making small, simple changes and swapping certain foods for healthier alternatives can have such a positive impact on our health.
“It’s also clear to see the council is ideally placed to support local people, many of whom are our staff, to help them tackle excess weight and other health challenges. The Every Contact a Health Improvement Contact is a prime example of how having healthy conversations with staff can lead to positive changes within our community.
“We know we have a high percentage of people who are overweight in the borough and are therefore at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.”
The Journal collaborated with Nova International more than two years ago to launch our Great North Fitness Revolution.
The campaign is challenging everyone to make a pledge to get active and make the positive changes that will lead to a better quality of life.