Back in the game
When 5ft 11ins Lee Hartley from Liverpool was dropped from his football team for being out of shape, he thought his playing days were over. Then he joined Slimming World, lost 5st 12½lbs* – and found his perfect match...
“I’ve always loved football and, as a kid, had dreamed of playing for Liverpool. I joined a Sunday league team when I was 16 and continued to play for them throughout my teens and twenties.
"As time went on though, my weight started creeping up. I was eating loads of greasy breakfasts and sugary snacks and was always out drinking with my mates.
"Eventually the manager brought in a new goalkeeper and I was dropped to the subs’ bench. He told me to get a grip and get in shape. I took it badly and walked away from football.
"My weight was affecting me at work too. I’ve always had a physical job and, back then, I’d come home completely drained and just flop down on the sofa. I developed a back problem that kept me off work for five weeks and nearly cost me my job.
"Eventually, in the summer of 2011, a neighbour suggested I join Slimming World. I felt really nervous about it – particularly as I was convinced slimming clubs were for women and I’d be the only man. As it turned out, there were already a couple of men there.
"I couldn’t believe it when I heard how much I could eat on the plan and finding out that a balanced meal could still contain loads of pasta, rice or potatoes was great. I could still have a healthy fry up at the weekend too – just with a few little changes like trimming the fat off the bacon and using a low calorie oil spray.
After a month I’d lost over a stone and by two months I was 2st lighter.
"Because I’m a typically competitive bloke, Slimming World’s Body Magic activity programme and awards gave me an extra incentive to get fitter. I started with a short jog around the streets, followed the programme and built up gradually. A year later and I entered the Liverpool Marathon!
"I started playing football again when a friend who manages a Sunday league team invited me to join them. I haven’t missed a minute of play in the last two years.”
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.