A biscuit-factory worker lost 18 stone after being told his blood pressure was so high he should be dead.
Dad-of-one Gary Marsden, 47, of Batley, was so spooked he shed nearly half his body weight after a routine medical at work three years ago.
Gary, who works at Fox’s Biscuits in Batley, had been overweight for 20 years after piling on the pounds when he settled down with wife Pamela. He has dropped from 37 stone to 18 stone after changing his diet and taking karate lessons.
Now an active dad to Ben, 11, he has rewarded himself with a motorbike after years of being too big to ride one.
“As a young man I ate pretty healthily and never used to worry about my size,” said Gary. “It was only when I met my wife and we moved into our own home that I began to get bigger.
“It was the first time in my life that I could buy whatever food I wanted and we were contented too. Slowly over the years I put on more than 18st.”
Gary’s weight had a big impact on his confidence and he turned to food for comfort, trapping himself in a vicious circle.
“I felt ashamed so I became depressed and withdrawn,” he said. “It was a catch-22 situation as I would comfort eat but then I gained more weight and became even more depressed.
“I’d make excuses not to go on nights out or attend family gatherings because I felt really self-conscious. However, I hated missing out on doing things with my son.”
The turning point came when Gary, who is a stock controller for Fox’s Biscuits, had a medical at work in May 2012.
The nurse was so shocked by his blood pressure reading that she immediately sent him to A&E at his local hospital.
Gary said: “She told me my blood pressure was so high that she was surprised I was still walking around, she said technically I should be dead.
“That was a wake-up call for me. I knew my family was already worried about my health and I had to do something. I wanted to be around to see Ben grow up.”
Gary’s wife Pamela was already a Slimming World member and she suggested he went along with her, so on in June 2012 Gary joined the Batley Slimming World group, weighing in at staggering 37st 6lbs.
Gary adopted the healthy eating plan and lost 5lbs in his first week. Now he’s celebrating after being awarded Slimming World’s Greatest Loser 2015 title.
As he slimmed down, Gary became more active, playing rugby with Ben, taking up karate and learning to play the guitar, thanks to pal Matthew Hickling.
In total Gary has now lost 18st 8.5lbs, after dropping from 37st 6lbs to 18st 11.5lbs.
As a reward for his slimming success, Gary bought himself a motorbike.
“I haven’t been able to ride for years so it was my treat to myself. I feel like I’ve got my youth back and it feels amazing,” he said.
Gary’s menu before:
Breakfast: Big bowl of sugary cereal with milk and/or slices of white toast.
Lunch: Fish and chips or a chip butty.
Dinner: Takeaway, such as a curry or pizza, washed down with beer.
Snacks: chocolate bars, biscuits, sausage rolls, pork pies.
Gary’s menu after:
Breakfast: Two Weetabix with skimmed milk and topped with sliced banana.
Lunch: Salad with tuna, pickled onions and beetroot.
Dinner: Homemade chilli con carne with rice or spaghetti bolognese with pasta.
Snacks: Grapes, bananas, apples and fat-free yogurts.