A FORMER soldier who beat the bulge is waging a war against weight gain on Wearside.
Michael Hutchinson is hoping to prove an inspiration to other men struggling with their weight when he becomes the city’s first male Slimming World consultant.
The 36-year-old from Hendon has shed more than seven stone after suffering a back injury while he was serving his country which meant his weight crept up to almost 23 stone.
The former Royal Artillery bombardier has since been medically discharged as his injury meant he could no longer be active in the Army.
But dropping from 22st 13lb to 15st 6lb since January has given him a whole new lease of life.
Michael, whose tours of duty included Iraq and Bosnia, said: “I want to help people as much as I’ve been helped. Losing the weight has completely transformed my life.
“I was looking for something to do now I’ve been discharged, and I want to show other men how much weight loss can change your life. I would have been housebound if I hadn’t done something about my weight.
“There’s still a stigma around men attending slimming clubs, but hopefully, knowing that I’ve been through the same thing will encourage them to come along and give them more confidence.”
He added: “I’m going through my training at the minute, and the district manager said I’ll be the only active male consultant in Sunderland.”
Michael himself had to be persuaded to attend his first Slimming World class, but after losing 10lb in the first week, he’s never looked back.
“I’d always been a well-built bloke but, because of my injury I sat at home and the weight just crept on,” he explained.
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.”
Michael’s first class will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday, January 2, at Valley Road School, Hendon, and classes will take place at the venue every week. Anyone interested in joining the group can contact Michael on 07472 505599.