Not many people would be happy to be called a loser but Michael Hutchinson is extremely proud of the title.
He lost a jaw-dropping 12st 7lb in a year after signing up to a slimming club.
At his heaviest, the 26-year-old weighed 30st 7lbs, measured 54in around the waist and had dangerously high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The dad-of-one was so big that his GP needed two sets of scales to weigh him.
On a typical day he ate thick slabs of cheese melted on toast with butter, three packs of deep-filled pre-made sandwiches, snacks of crisps, biscuits and a family pack of chocolate, eight double cheeseburgers and a home-cooked meal of lasagne.
He knew his mammoth eating habits were leading him to an early grave but it was the death of his mother-in-law which prompted him to do something about his weight.
Rheumatoid arthritis sufferer Jennifer Smith, of Highfield Road, Minster, passed away in September 2009 aged 65.
He said: “I realised I didn’t want to die young and that I wanted to be there for my wife Claire, who is an only child, and our two-year-old son Harry for a very long time.”
Psychiatric nurse Michael, who estimates he was spending £15 a day on food, set his sights on a gastric band to help him fight the flab.
His GP agreed to apply for NHS funding for the operation and he joined the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Club in a bid to shift a few pounds before the operation.
But when he lost two stone in the first month he decided to keep following the plan.
He said: “I still hadn’t heard about the operation so I thought I’d carry on. In the end I told my GP not to pursue the funding any more.”
Today, 6ft 4in Michael weighs 18st, has a 36in waist size and is enjoying life with his family.
His efforts saw him crowned Biggest Loser Male 2011 at the Slimmer of the Year Awards held in London last week where he also received a cash prize of £1,000.
Michael, who is looking forward to the birth of his second child in March, said: “Losing the weight has made such a difference to my life.
“I’ve got so much more energy now.
“I go running, I do combat sambo at the Swale Martial Arts Centre in Sittingbourne and I play a lot more with Harry.
“Claire and I used to sleep in separate beds because I snored and suffered from sleep apnea, but that’s stopped now and we’re sharing a bed again.
“It’s like I’ve got a new identity.”
Speaking from the family home in Kemsley, Claire said: “He was basically told he was putting his life at risk because of his eating.
“We’d eat the same evening meal but he was still getting bigger and putting on weight so I was wondering what was going on but he was eating in secret.
“Now he’s like a different man. He’s still Michael but he’s got a lot more confidence and he can do a lot more with Harry.
“I hope he will be an inspiration to others.”
Carol Wilson, franchisee of the Medway and Maidstone Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Club, said: “When I think what he has done it’s amazing and I’m so proud of him.
“It’s not just because of the way he’s changed his looks but also the way he’s changed his health.
“From day one, he was so focused and he’s been a star pupil.
“Even when he came to us at 30st he joined in with the exercises, albeit he stayed at the back of the room.
“Now he’s like a little Duracell bunny jumping all over the place.
“It makes me think what I do is all worthwhile.”
Michael attends the slimming group held every Monday night at 7pm at Rainham Mark Grammar School, in Pump Lane, Rainham.