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Father from Ashford sheds 15 stone for father-in-law who died

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A father-of-two who lost an astonishing 15 stone in four years was inspired by the wishes of his dead father-in-law.

Dave Winchester, from Singleton in Ashford, managed to shed 15 stone over four years and go from a size 6XL to a medium after being motivated by a conversation at his father-in-law's wake.

Dave Winchester has gone from a size 6XL to a medium
Dave Winchester has gone from a size 6XL to a medium

"At the wake, my mother-in-law told me that one of his wishes was that I would join Slimming World so that I could see my children grow up," Mr Winchester said.

He said that from 2013 to 2018 he didn't really leave the house because he felt embarrassed about his size.

The data analyst also admitted: "I had to stop going to work because I couldn't fit in my car.

"People would fat shame me on the street, it was awful.

"It was a joke that I would never join Slimming World, people would never ask me if I was going to go on a diet, it was a case that I was fat and I got on with it."

He added that when he did get fat shamed he would go home and drink himself to sleep. "It was mentally draining. Looking back I wish I'd been mentally stronger."

Dave was at his heaviest in 2015, weighing 28 stone and five pounds
Dave was at his heaviest in 2015, weighing 28 stone and five pounds

But two weeks after his father-in-laws wake, Mr Winchester joined an online Slimming World Group without anyone knowing.

He said he was too embarrassed to join an in-person group because there's a stigma that men don't do Slimming World. "Men don't talk about dieting.

"It's all in the head though, you're constantly judging yourself and not wanting to do things because you think everyone else is judging you, but they're not."

A few months into his Slimming World journey, Mr Winchester joined an in-person group and said the support was amazing. "I thought it would be horrendous but it was the complete opposite. I thought you'd be judged and the consultant would interrogate you, put you on a stage at the front, and everyone would see your weight.

"The group is full of inspirational people who won't realise how inspirational they are when they let us know they are going out for a bike ride or joining couch to 5k, but hearing this inspires others in the group to do that as well."

Mr Winchester said he would set himself targets throughout his weight loss journey like being able to get back on a bike so that he could take his children on bike rides when they were old enough.

He added: "I have cycled 28,500km outside and on zwift since joining Slimming World, 6,500 of that in 2022 and 2,000 in the summer of 2020 with Willesborough Cricket Club raising money for More Than Words Charity."

The father now lives a very active and healthy lifestyle and has cut alcohol out of his diet. "I believe alcohol was the biggest reason for my weight and the lifestyle choices I made around it. I have now been sober for 254 days."

Before joining Slimming World, Mr Winchester's diet often consisted of lots of processed foods with a high fat content. "I would often go to the drive thru before work for breakfast," he said.

"For lunch often a sausage or bacon baguette with a chocolate bar and a share packet of crisps. "For dinner I would usually have chips with either pizza, burgers or curry and plenty of takeaways.

"Most home cooked dinners would come from the freezer and I would usually drink up to 4lt of fizzy drink throughout the day."

Dave was about 15 stone when he met his wife Susie
Dave was about 15 stone when he met his wife Susie

But now, his diet is a lot cleaner, including plenty of fruit and vegetables. "I now have yoghurt and fruit for breakfast. Couscous with peppers, onions, sweetcorn, chillis and beetroot for lunch with a packet of lentil curls.

"Dinner is almost always at least 50% a plate of mixed fresh veg with some air fried baby potatoes and chicken breast. Drink wise, I stick to black coffee and no added sugar squashes."

He added that his diet is not restricted and he doesn't feel guilty if he eats something which might be considered "bad".

"A trip to the pub for a meal or a takeaway is always okay, and any weight gain as a result of these will be short term due to my lifestyle change.

"That's the great thing with Slimming World, you can still eat anything."

Dave Winchester
Dave Winchester

He has also joined the Willesborough Cricket Club and tries to play at least one game a weekend as he has always been passionate for the sport.

After falling from 28 stone to just 12, Mr Winchester has been listed as a finalist for Slimming World's national 'Man of the Year' award. "To be honest, I feel like we've all won already but if we can inspire someone with our stories then that'd be brilliant."

The manager of the Slimming World group Mr Winchester joined, Julia Males, said he has been such an inspiration to others in the group.

She added: "When Dave joined our group in October he was very shy but took everything in, came to group every week, and took the support from other members but also felt comfortable to support others too.

Dave said his children Heidi and Freddie also inspired him to lose the weight
Dave said his children Heidi and Freddie also inspired him to lose the weight

"The cheer was so loud when we announced that he had got into the final.

"I am so excited for him and just love to see all of the praise he is getting from others as it is very much deserved. It couldn't happen to a nicer person."

Mr Winchester will be going to Derbyshire on Sunday, June 26 for the 'Man of the Year' award where he will give a presentation telling his Slimming World success story.

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