Men face difficulty admitting weight problems, says top Downham Market slimmer who lost 9st

Tony Cowell before his weight loss. Picture: TONY COWELL

Tony Cowell before his weight loss. Picture: TONY COWELL - Credit: Archant

A man praised as one of the nation's top slimmers after losing more than 9st has opened up about the difficulties men face admitting weight problems.

From left to right, James Bishop, footballer Wayne Bridge and Tony Cowell. Mr Bishop and Mr Cowell w

From left to right, James Bishop, footballer Wayne Bridge and Tony Cowell. Mr Bishop and Mr Cowell were semi-finalists in Slimming World's Man of the Year 2017 competition. Picture: SLIMMING WORLD - Credit: Archant

Tony Cowell, from Downham Market, said 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.

The 56-year-old was congratulated by footballer and I'm A Celebrity...Get Me out of Here! star Wayne Bridge for being a semi-finalist in Slimming World's Man of the Year 2017 contest.

Mr Cowell went from 22st 0.5lb to 13st 8.5lb after joining Downham Market's Slimming World Group.

'It took quite a lot for me to admit that I had a weight problem to begin with, so actually deciding to do something about it and join my local Slimming World group was another big step,' he said.

'Thankfully I came to the conclusion that my health and happiness was the most important thing and plucked up the courage to go along that first time.

'My only regret now is that I didn't join Slimming World sooner.

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'I was a bit hesitant to tell people I was going to a slimming group at first but once they noticed I was losing weight, the results spoke for themselves and I didn't get any of the comments I expected.

'I have no problem singing Slimming World's praises now. It's even encouraged me to think about how active I am too, so I've refound my love for golf, cycling and walking the dogs.

'Everyday life is just a lot easier. Getting to meet Wayne was great too, I never knew losing weight would have this many perks!'

Sharon Cadman, who runs the Downham Market group that Mr Cowell attends, said she is very proud of her super slimmer.

'A lot of men think that slimming clubs are female-only zones,' she said.

'Tony and James are living proof that this isn't the case though. In fact, there are now 60,000 men attending Slimming World groups, which goes to show that men need just as much support as women to slim down and improve their health.'

Fellow semi-finalist James Bishop, 42, from Norwich, lost nearly 10st by going from 24st 2lbs to 13st 8lbs.

Mr Bridge, who has now hung up his football boots and appeared on I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!, was blown away by the achievements of the men he met at the competition.

He says: '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 Tony and James and I can't believe their transformations, they don't look like the same blokes!'

'I really have to take my hat off to them for recognising that they had a problem and then having the courage to do something about it. I think many people would be guilty of thinking that going to a slimming club isn't very manly so that makes it even harder for men to take that first step. They're definitely top blokes in my book.'