Ross is flying high after 5st 1½lbs weight loss!

  • Ross Hebden spent an uncomfortable flight to Turkey wedged into his plane seat because he was too embarrassed to ask for a seatbelt extender
  • In a work email, he was once described as the ‘fat and ugly bloke’ which destroyed his confidence
  • A photo taken when he went to collect his new car spurred Ross into action
  • The 36-year-old, who has been named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek 2019, is now fighting fit, has completed numerous half marathons and is a keen American football player

A dad-of-three who was once so overweight he struggled to fit into an aeroplane seat has lost more than 5st to pick up a national slimming award.

Ross Hebden, 36, had struggled with his weight since childhood and his unhealthy eating habits continued when he met his wife Amanda, 36, as they settled into a routine of enjoying indulgent meals and cosy takeaways together.

Ross, who works in insurance and lives in Gloucestershire with Amanda and their three children Ailla, six, Rewan, four, and Elowen, one, was over the moon to be named Mr Sleek in Slimming World’s 50th anniversary year. He says: “I’ve battled with my weight for much of my life, so living as an overweight person had become a daily struggle. The first time I set foot on an aeroplane I think it really hit me just how big I’d become.

“We were going on a holiday to Turkey with friends and I could just about buckle the seatbelt. I was too embarrassed to ask for an extender though, so I spent the whole flight feeling squashed and uncomfortable, especially when the in-flight meal arrived because I could barely get the tray down over my stomach.”

A cruel work email also left Ross feeling ashamed because of his weight: “It had got to the stage where I was almost used to people making comments about my size. But when an email went around at work which called me the ‘fat and ugly bloke,’ I was devastated. I wasn’t supposed to receive it, but that didn’t matter – my self-worth was completely destroyed and I just couldn’t shake it off.”

In the past Ross tried to lose the pounds by upping his exercise levels, but without a healthy eating plan to go alongside it, his progress was often slow and frustrating. He says: “I was getting physically fitter, yet I still wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I hadn’t done anything to address my eating habits. Plus, if I did lose some weight I found it really hard to keep it off. I yo-yoed like this for a few years until I decided to enter the Tewkesbury Half Marathon. Almost as soon as I started my training I badly injured my knee, which I knew was down to the extra weight I was carrying.

“The final straw really came when Amanda and I went to buy a new family car and we had a photograph taken at the garage to celebrate. When I saw it my heart sank. Despite the exercise, I could see I was almost getting back to my biggest and deep down I knew that if I really wanted to lose weight, I had to look at what I was eating. Amanda had recently given birth to Elowen and was joining her local Slimming World group to lose some baby weight, so I thought I’d bite the bullet and go along with her.”

Ross Hebden, Slimming World's Mr Sleek 2019
Joining a group made everything click for me and part of that was definitely because of the other members. 
Ross Hebden, Slimming World's Mr Sleek 2019

At first Ross was worried that he’d have to go hungry in order to lose weight, so he was surprised to learn that he could still enjoy all of his favourite meals – they just had to be prepared and cooked in a different way.

He says: “Amanda had followed Slimming World’s eating plan before so I knew the meals tasted nice, yet I still worried that I’d have to give up my favourite foods. Going to the group really opened my eyes to a whole new way of eating though. I realised that with a few adjustments I could still enjoy a bacon sandwich for breakfast, I just needed to trim the fat off my meat and switch to wholemeal bread.

“Joining a group made everything click for me and part of that was definitely because of the other members. I was worried I’d be the only man there and I’d feel out of place, yet everyone was so welcoming and supportive that it really helped me to hit the ground running. I haven’t looked back since and neither has Amanda, she’s lost 3st 6.5lbs too!”

Now a keen runner and gym enthusiast, Ross has another hobby which has benefitted greatly from his weight loss. “I’ve always had a keen interest in American football – it was a sport I could play even at my biggest. Back then I formed part of the offensive line as I was a big bloke… although now I’m too slim for that position! I’ve switched roles now to a more attacking position which sees me move around and affect the play a lot more, and I absolutely love it. Nowadays running is much easier too and I’ve completed several half marathons in under two hours, which is something I never really thought possible.”

The most important change Ross’ weight loss has brought is a little closer to home though. He says: “For me, everything that I have done has been for my family. I wanted to support my wife on her Slimming World journey, but I also wanted to be the best possible father to my kids. I was becoming the kind of dad who was tired all the time or was too out of breath to play with them, and that wasn’t who I wanted to be. Now I’ve got plenty of energy to keep up with my three wonderful children and I couldn’t be happier about that.

“I really understood just how far I’d come when I had to get on a plane again. We were flying to Spain, and this time around it was such a different experience. I had plenty of room, my knees didn’t dig into the seat in front and I could pull the table down with ease! I feel like a totally different person, one that is full of confidence and ready to take on whatever life throws at me.”


Name: Ross Hebden

Age: 36

Height: 6’1”/1.85m

Starting weight: 18st 8½lbs/260½lbs/118kg

Current weight: 13st 7lbs/189lbs/86kg

Weight loss: 5st 1½lbs/71½lbs/32kg

Starting waist measurement: 42in

Current waist measurement: 34in

Date joined Slimming World: 13th June 2017

Group: Ross attends the Newtown Tewkesbury Slimming World group in Gloucestershire run by Kathryn Stevens.

Before menu

Breakfast: A bacon sandwich on white buttered bread with ketchup

Snack: Chocolate bar or bag of crisps

Lunch: Triple-layer sandwich with crisps, chocolate, fizzy drink and a doughnut or two

Dinner: Chicken tikka masala made with a sauce from a jar and served with a garlic naan bread

Snack: Doughnuts, biscuits, cookies, share-size bag of crisps

After menu

Breakfast: A ‘grill up’ made with low-fat sausages, lean bacon, beans, tomatoes and eggs fried in a pan sprayed with low-calorie cooking spray

Mid-morning: An apple

Lunch: A large chicken salad followed by a hi-fibre cereal bar

Dinner: Homemade sticky teriyaki pork served with vegetables and wholegrain rice or homemade cheesy chicken risotto

Evening snack: Small chocolate bar or flavoured fat-free Greek yogurt, low-fat ice cream or a hot chocolate with marshmallows


Notes to editors

Man stats:

  • Weight worries are often associated more with women than men, but latest data shows that around one in four men have a BMI that puts them in the ‘obese’ category
  • On average, men struggle with their weight for 6.2 years before taking action
  • Slimming World currently has 60,000 men attending its groups throughout the UK and Ireland
  • There are three men attending each group on average, and 96% of our groups have at least one man in them
  • The number of attending men in group has gone up by 27.5% since 2016
  • When men do join slimming clubs they are very successful, and typically lose more weight than women. On average, men attending Slimming World lose more than 5% of their body weight in 12 weeks
  • Research of Slimming World members found that while the majority of men had sex once-a-month or more before losing weight, they now have it at least once-a-week!
  • While men make up only one in 10 patients attending commercial weight-management programmes like Slimming World through referral by the NHS, when health professionals verbally offer referral to men and women equally, the proportion of referrals who are make jumps to nearly four in 10.

Findings from various Slimming World studies published in 2016 and 2017. Details available on request.

For further information please contact Lucy Knighton in the Slimming World press office on 01773 306852 or email lucy.knighton@slimmingworld.co.uk

In addition, you can view a video of Ross talking about his weight loss here.

  • This story is NOT for syndication to any magazines without the consent of Ross Hebden and the Slimming World press office (details above).
  • Slimming World and Ross Hebden retain copyright of all images attached to this press release.
  • Slimming World’s Mr Sleek was open to all men who attend Slimming World groups across the UK and Ireland. Group finalists were voted for by members of all Slimming World groups and Ross was named the overall winner.
  • The Mr Sleek competition celebrates fabulous members who have slimmed down handsomely and achieved their weight-loss dreams. The female equivalent to Mr Sleek is Miss Slinky, the winner of which was Hayley Cook from Oxfordshire who lost 6st 5½lbs.

About Slimming World

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969 and is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. There are now more than 18,000 weekly groups supporting 900,000 members across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Groups are run by a network of 5,000 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 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, encouraging and empowering members to make changes in a supportive, 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 Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000. Follow Slimming World on Twitter at www.twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/slimmingworld 

For the Press Office please email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk