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Home Canterbury News Article
A man mountain who gorged on five family-sized bars of chocolate, 16 sausages and 20 pints of beer a day decided he had to stop - or die.
After reached a staggering 37 stone, Nevil Masters used to dread walking through Canterbury where he attracted unwelcome stares and comments.
The 47-year-old hospital porter had been gaining weight for years and ballooned to dangerous levels with a 72-inch waist.
Now he has shed more than 13 stone and is still dieting, which he says has saved and transformed his life.
But at his heaviest, his vast size meant he could never travel on a plane - and his chances of romance were slim.
"No woman wanted to go out with such a big fat bloke like me," said the avid Gills fan, who works at Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Nevil, of Laxton Way, blames his eating habits on depression following an accident shortly before his 21st birthday, when he nearly lost his arm.
He said: "That's when I really started to put the weight on. I was a big bloke anyway – 6ft 5in with size 20 feet. So I was never going to be a lightweight.
"When I was off work because of the injury, I started eating all the wrong stuff and going to the pub every lunchtime and evening, drinking 20 pints a day.
"I was also eating more and more, and in the space of 16 months put on 11 stone. I just couldn't get rid of it after that, and the weight kept going on."
Nevil said he also became addicted to chocolate, eating up to five family-sized bars a day.
He said: "I stopped going to the pub so regularly when my arm healed and I started work again. But a typical day would mean skipping breakfast, but having two big sandwiches at lunchtime and two giant bars of chocolate.
"In the evening, I might have bangers, beans and mash, but with 16 sausages washed down with eight litres of fizzy drink and another two or three big bars of chocolate.
"Although I was walking miles at work, when I came home, I would crash out on the sofa and eat.
"It got to the stage where I had to sleep sitting up in bed because of the weight on my chest lying down."
Nevil - whose parents are retired head teachers from Boughton, where he grew up - said his burgeoning weight led to serious health problems, including diabetes.
He said: "Working at the hospital, I got to meet some bariatric patients and one woman, in particular, who I became friendly with.
"She later died because of complications with her weight. That really shook me up.
"By 2000, I was 37 stone and six pounds, and knew I had to do something drastic or die.
"I thought I'd try swimming, but must have been to the leisure centre six times only to freeze in the changing rooms, too scared to come out because of the looks I would get."
Nevil then went to Slimming World, but admits it was daunting turning up to a hall largely full of women.
He said: "I have never been so scared in my life. I almost walked out the door.
"But once you get to know the people they are absolutely brilliant. Sal de-Vere, who runs the group, has been so supportive. She saved my life."
Nevil's weight loss has been slow and progressive, which most health professionals say is the best way.
He said: "I didn't want the slimming to ruin my life because I like my social life.
"I enjoy going out with mates to watch the Gills and having a few pints.
"Maybe I'd put a couple of pounds on, but then the next few weeks I would lose it and a bit more.
"Now a typical day would be a piece of toast for breakfast, sandwich at lunchtime, and if I have sausage, mash and beans for tea, it's two or three sausages – not 16.
"Before bed, I’ll have a snack - maybe cheese and biscuits or a sandwich, but that's because of my diabetes.
"I've also cut right back on chocolate and just have a couple of normal-size bars a week.
"I never wanted a gastric band, because I still enjoy going out for a nice meal now and again with family and friends, and I couldn't do it with that.
"I've been losing about 5lb a month, which my consultant said was exactly the right way."
Nevil now weighs under 24 stone, but says his target is between 19 and 20 stone.
He said: "I just feel so much better and have more energy. I just wish my late nan could see me now. She was always encouraging me to lose weight.
"When I had lost quite a lot, I found that I'd had a hernia for 20 years, which I wasn't even aware of. The more I lose the better I feel, although I might need surgery to get rid of the excess skin later.
"As fas as romance goes, I'm not looking for it but if it happens, so be it."
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