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Take a look at super-slimmers Andrew and Paula Butler as they scoop national title

Aircraft problems forced couple to take up diet

They knew there was a problem when they feared they were too big to fasten seatbelts on an aircraft.

But now a Huddersfield couple who thought their weight might scupper a dream holiday have lost nearly 15st and been named as Slimming World’s Couple of the Year 2016.

Andrew and Paula Butler, of Crosland Moor, worried they’d have to abandon a trip to Dubai when they both struggled to fasten their seat belts on the plane.

While on board they pledged not to take to the air again until they’d lost weight – and today, true to their word, they’re 14st 9½lbs lighter and planning an active watersports holiday for their next break.

Andrew said: “We worked really hard to save the money for the trip, but Paula told me that she’d get off the flight rather than have to ask for an extension for her seat belt – she said she just couldn’t have faced the embarrassment.

“We both only just managed to make our belts close but we promised ourselves we wouldn’t set foot on another plane until we’d lost weight. When we saw the photos from that holiday it made us even more determined to make a change.”

Andrew, who is a machine feeder for an engineering firm, gained 6st in three years after giving up smoking in 2012 and found walking even short distances a struggle.

Meanwhile, Paula had battled with her weight since school and suffered with chronic asthma and painful knees. The couple, who met in 2003 and have been married since 2005, tried diet after diet to slim down without success, including making themselves ill by following a no-carb plan.

Heavyweight couple Andrew and Paula Butler

The pair heard about Slimming World from Paula’s sister Diane, who was a member and regularly served up meals that they couldn’t believe were healthy. They decided to join Slimming World themselves in January 2015.

Andrew said: “Walking into the group was quite a daunting prospect, especially for me because I thought I’d be the only man. Our biggest fear was that we’d be judged by the other people in the group.

“Diane assured us that everyone there would be in the same boat though and she was so right. Within a few weeks we felt completely relaxed and we’ve made so many friends including our consultant Sue Chiappori – in fact, our group’s more like a family. Even now we’ve reached our target weights we’re still there every week, we wouldn’t want to miss it!”

The couple swapped their regular takeaways for healthy home-cooked meals, which they enjoy preparing and cooking together now. The plan encourages members to base meals around foods that satisfy their appetite and are low in energy density (low in calories yet filling) like fruit and veg, pasta, rice, potatoes, lean meat, fish, eggs, fat-free dairy and more.

Andrew and Paula, who has twin 22-year-old sons from a previous relationship, have also become much more active. Andrew now completes the walk to work that used to take him 45 minutes in just 20 minutes, and Paula’s asthma and knees are so much improved that she now enjoys walking their dogs twice a day. The couple have recently taken up rollerskating, too.

Paula’s weight isn’t the only thing about her appearance that’s changed as she also had her waist-length hair cropped for charity after tragically her sister Diane passed away from leukemia in April 2015 after a short illness.

Too fat to fly? Andrew and Paula Butler before their diet

Paula, who is training to work in holistic therapy, says: “After losing Diane I decided to donate my hair to the Little Princess Trust and it made three wigs for leukemia patients. Losing Diane could have thrown us off track with our weight loss, yet it made us want to finish our journey more than ever – we know she’d be so proud of what we’ve achieved.”


Andrew Butler

Age: 37

Height: 6ft 4in/1.93m

Starting weight: 22st 13lbs/321lbs/146kg

Current weight: 15st 4lbs/214lbs/97kg

Weight loss: 7st 9lbs/107lbs/49kg

Starting waist measurement: 46”

Starting clothes size: XXXL

Current waist measurement: 36”

Current clothes size: L

Paula Butler

Age: 43

Height: 6ft/1.83m

Starting weight: 20st 11½lbs/291½lbs/132kg

Current weight: 13st 11lbs/193lbs/87kg

Weight loss: 7st ½lb/98½lbs/45kg

Starting dress size: 26

Current dress size: 16

Group: Andrew and Paula attend the Huddersfield Town Centre group, which is run by Sue Chiappori

Before menu:

Breakfast: P – a cup of coffee with sugar, A – large bowl of cereal or four slices of white toast

Lunch: P – bacon and egg sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and sugary fizzy drink, A – large meat salad, crisps and chocolate bar

Dinner: Both – pasta dish made with jarred sauces or takeaway pizza or kebab

Snacks: Both – crisps, biscuits, chocolate bars.

After menu:

Breakfast: grilled lean bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes and an egg fried in a pan sprayed with low calorie cooking spray

Mid-morning: a couple of pieces of fruit or high-fibre cereal bar and fat-free yogurt

Lunch: baked potato topped with tuna with salad on the side

Mid-afternoon: banana

Dinner: homemade spaghetti bolognese

Evening snacks: homemade Slimming World-style potato wedges (cooked in the oven with low calorie cooking spray), glass of wine or lager.



Doug Thomson
Huddersfield Town correspondent
Chris Roberts
Huddersfield Giants correspondent
Louise Cooper
Crime correspondent
Nick Lavigueur
Health Correspondent
Joanne Douglas
Local Government Correspondent
Linda Whitwam
Education Correspondent
Henryk Zientek
Business Correspondent
Martin Shaw
Mirfield Correspondent