It’s a fine life for Oliver after 25st weight loss!
A 24-year-old who was bullied about his weight throughout school and university says he feels ‘normal’ for the first time in his life after losing an incredible 25st.
Oliver Bales, from Portsmouth, became extremely depressed as a result of his size, which at his heaviest saw him reach nearly 39st. As well as attracting attention from cruel bullies, he was unable to stand for long periods without being in pain, had sky-high blood pressure, and couldn’t fit into seats on public transport and in lecture theatres at university.
Now, after being inspired by a friend’s weight loss on social media, Oliver has lost an amazing 25st ½lb and dropped a whopping 30 inches from his waist. His remarkable transformation has seen him named as Slimming World’s Greatest Loser 2016.
Oliver says he always knew he was overweight, yet it wasn’t until he reached his teens and early 20s that his size began to be a significant problem for him. He says: “While I have some amazing memories from my childhood, I sometimes look back and wish I could have the chance to re-do it. I used to feel like people were always comparing me to other children my age, and feeling like ‘the fat, ugly one’ made me angry and upset. I missed out on a lot, too – I always used to ‘forget’ my PE kit because I hated getting changed in front of the other pupils. As time went on, I got bigger and that’s when the bullying started.”
Sadly things didn’t improve when Oliver, who is half Filipino, went to university to study Business Studies, and during his final year he was forced to take time out of his studies due to depression. He says: “I didn’t get the experience of university life I’d hoped. I was too big to take part in activities, and I couldn’t fit in the seats in some lecture halls so I’d have to sit at a separate table away from everyone else, which was mortifying. I’d assumed university would be a mature environment and I’d be safe from bullies, but things were worse than in my hometown. I felt so ashamed and broke down.”
Thanks to Slimming World I feel normal for the first time in my life and my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.
At his heaviest Oliver weighed 38st 13½lbs and would spend most days lying in bed, eating and watching TV. His blood pressure was dangerously high at more than 160, he suffered such serious back pain that he sometimes found it difficult to get out of bed and he couldn’t stand for long periods, leaving him fearing he wouldn’t be around to see his niece and two nephews grow up. Oliver also suffered many embarrassing situations, including cracking the family bath when he stood in it to shower.
So in 2014 when he saw photos a friend was posting on her social media profiles as she lost weight with Slimming World, he decided to follow her lead and joined his local group run by Consultant Colette May-Matthews.
Oliver began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan and was amazed by how versatile it was, allowing him to enjoy traditional Filipino cuisine without guilt and still have treats like a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine. He says: “I was completely shocked that cooking something the Slimming World way could taste so delicious – better than before, in fact – and coming from an Asian background, I am a complete lover of rice so I was over the moon to know I could eat rice and still lose weight. I can honestly say I have never felt hungry.
“My Slimming World Consultant Colette is so passionate about the plan that I knew, right from the first week, that it could work for me. Seeing her every week with a smile on her face and knowing she and the other members in my group are always there for support when I need it has helped me to get to where I am today – and I know they’ll help me to stay at my target weight, too."
As the weight began to come off, Oliver found the confidence to become more active too. Now he loves going to the gym, taking part in fitness classes, swimming and running. His ambitions now include running a marathon, doing a triathlon and learning to scuba dive.
Since starting his journey in April 2014 he’s lost a total of 25st ½lb, taking him from 38st 13½lbs to 13st 13lbs, and gone from wearing a 6XL and having a 64in waist to a M and a 34in waist. Now Oliver, who is originally from Ipswich, enjoys indulging in shopping trips with his mum, who is extremely proud of his achievements. And as well as a new wardrobe he’s had to splash out on all new shoes because he’s dropped two shoe sizes since slimming down too.
Oliver, who’s recently started a new job as an on-board host for Rail Gourmet/South West Trains, says: “Everyone tells me I look amazing, which is a great feeling. As I’ve shrunk my confidence levels have soared and I’m so much happier and much more ambitious. I used to be so shy and quiet but that’s completely vanished now and I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones.
“Being overweight has affected by entire life – until now. I finally know what it’s like not to feel like an outcast, to be able to walk down the street without people laughing, pointing or calling you names, to not take up two seats on a train, to not be in constant pain….Thanks to Slimming World I feel normal for the first time in my life and my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. I hope my story will inspire other people to know that it’s never too late to get support and even if they don’t know it, there is help just around the corner – my advice to anyone wanting to make a change is ‘close your eyes and jump.”
Name: Oliver Bales
Height: 5ft 10in/1.8m
Starting weight: 38st 13½lbs/545½lbs/247kg
Current weight: 13st 13lbs/195lbs/88kg
Weight loss: 25st ½lb/350½lbs/159kg
Starting waist measurement: 64in/162.5cm
Current waist measurement: 34in/86.5cm
Date joined Slimming World: 8/04/2014
Group: Oliver lost weight at the Fareham/Titchfield group run by Colette May-Matthews.
Lunch: battered cod and chips with a battered sausage, a battered burger, a saveloy and mushy peas on the side, covered in mayonnaise and ketchup. All washed down with a cola
Dinner: doner kebab meat and a half-pounder burger with chips. Followed by a tub of cookie dough ice cream, a whole cheesecake or a selection of cream cakes, with cola
Snacks: pork pies, sausage and bean pasties, chocolate bars, ice cream, biscuits and scones with jam and clotted cream.
Breakfast: bran flakes with fat-free yogurt and chopped strawberries or a pepper and spinach omelette with low-fat sausages
Lunch: chicken and sweetcorn pasta salad or smoked ham and cream cheese sandwich on wholemeal bread with salad on the side
Dinner: homemade butternut squash risotto or Slimming World Chicken and Chorizo-style Sausage Paella (available from Iceland) when short on time
Snacks: satsumas, apples, pears, melon, raspberries, strawberries, vegetable sticks, hard boiled eggs, fat-free yogurts, low-fat hot chocolate, fun-size Mars and Twix bars or high-fibre cereal bars.
Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 18,000 groups held weekly across the UK and Republic of Ireland via a network of 4,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques.
Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. Our phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. The principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by overweight people and a recognition that those who struggle with weight carry a double burden, the weight itself and a burden of guilt and shame about their weight. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating behaviour change in a warm and friendly group environment. Consultant training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.
For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.
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