Iraq veteran wins battle of the bulge

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HE’S served his country in war zones including Iraq and Bosnia – but this soldier’s now waged war on his weight.

Michael Hutchinson’s weight ballooned to almost 23 stone after a back injury meant he could no longer take part in active army life.

But today, the 36-year-old from Hendon is tipping the scales at a much healthier 16st 5lbs after being persuaded to join a slimming club.

It’s not the most obvious method of weight loss for a burly solider, but it’s helped the Royal Artillery bombardier to shift six stone.

“It’s not really the done thing in the army,” said Michael.

“I only intended to go once to keep my mam happy. but I lost 10lbs in my first week so I kept on going back. It helped that I wasn’t the only man in the group, too.”

During his time serving as a light gun detachment commander, which saw him undertake tours of duty around the world, Michael was able to keep fit.

But after being injured two years ago, he was unable to exercise.

A picture posted on Facebook of him at a wedding made him realise just how much weight he had gained, and he decided to make a change by joining Slimming World at St John’s Methodist Church in Ashbrooke.

“I’d always been a well-built bloke, but because of my injury I sat at home and the weight just crept on,” he said.

“I won’t be able to go back to the army because of my back problem – I’m waiting for my medical discharge papers – but if I hadn’t lost the weight, I think I’d be housebound by now.”

To supplement his new healthy eating regime, Michael also signed up to participate in hill walking and cycling days organised by the Help For Heroes Recovery Centre in Catterick in order to regain his fitness.

Michael said: “A lot of soldiers believe that physical training is the be all and end all of weight loss and it isn’t, it is just part of it.

“You have to change your lifestyle.”

Slimming World’s Gill Whitfield said Michael was a fantastic example for, and mentor to, the other members of his class – especially the five other men.

“He is an absolute star,” she said. “It took a lot for him to come through the door that first time. He walked with difficulty, and you could see Michael felt quite anxious.

“I was told by his mother that he spent most of his time hiding away at home, playing video games, but now he is the life and soul of our group, and has been voted Man of the Year by the other members.”

l Gill Whitfield’s Slimming World group meets at St John’s Methodist Church every Tuesday at 3.15pm, 5.15pm and 7.15pm, and Friday at 9.30am and 11.30 am.