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Greatest Loser 2021 title awarded at Oakham Slimming World

Being the best at losing wouldn’t normally help you to scoop an award - yet one man from Oakham has done just that after being named the town’s ‘Greatest Loser’ 2021.

Ray Banks who is a member of the Thursday 10.30am Slimming World group, has lost more than 6st to take the title, which is awarded to the member who has lost the most weight in their group.

Ray, who’s gone from 18st 9lbs to 12st 7lbs said: “I feel fantastic since losing weight and I look so different now that people who I haven’t seen for a while often can’t believe I’m the same person. I have to say though, it’s the change on the inside that’s been the greatest – I’m healthier and have so much energy and I'm just so much happier with myself."

Ray Banks, the Greatest Loser at Oakham Slimming World 2021
Ray Banks, the Greatest Loser at Oakham Slimming World 2021

The proud 65-year-old joined the Thursday Oakham group, which is run by Sheryl Dixon, in early March 2020 - just a couple of weeks before the first national lockdown.

Ray said: “My weight impacted on so many aspects of my life, from struggling to find clothes that I liked to not being able to do simple everyday tasks without feeling tired and out of breath.

"Last February the trip of a lifetime to the USA was impacted by my lack of energy and mobility. This year I’m full of life and can't wait for the end of lockdown as I can do so much more now."

Ray Banks before
Ray Banks before

Ray’s weight was also putting a huge strain on his health; a knee injury was not healing, he was pre-diabetic with high blood pressure and simply had no stamina for everyday activities.

Now he needs fewer tablets, has a healthy BMI and can walk miles without pain.

People who are severely overweight are more likely to suffer from health problems like coronary heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer, and being overweight has also been linked to more severe outcomes of Covid-19 too.

After hearing about Slimming World from a friend, Ray decided to join the Oakham group.

Ray Banks, the Greatest Loser at Oakham Slimming World 2021
Ray Banks, the Greatest Loser at Oakham Slimming World 2021

He said: “I was nervous before my first session and had no idea what to expect. I didn’t have to be worried though, everyone there was so friendly and made me feel welcome, especially my consultant Sheryl.

"After listening to people talk and share their experiences that week, I realised everyone there was in the same boat – they understood what it felt like to struggle with their weight. But they were all working together and helping each other to achieve the very thing I wanted to, to lose weight and keep it off for good.

"I have to say I was very relieved when I found out that my weight was confidential, too – I’d had visions of having to tell everyone how much I weighed.

“I’ve met a huge variety of people at the group, different ages and genders and I was pleased to see that other men had taken the step to join the group too. I honestly don’t think I could have done it without their support each week, especially when our group went virtual.

"We still all support each other with new recipes and tips and if anyone is ever struggling, we are always there to remind each other how far we’ve come. Listening to others has really helped me to understand my own challenges and motivations when it comes to losing weight. Their support has helped me to believe in myself more, without that I don’t know if I’d have been able to make the changes and achieve the things I have. There’s nothing quite like being together in group though and I’m excited to get back into our real-life group and see everyone in person.”

Ray followed Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan and swapped too large portions and unhealthy choices for regular filling meals.

Sheryl, who runs the Thursday Oakham Slimming World groups, said: “I feel so privileged to have played a part in Ray’s transformation. He has come so far, especially as the last year has been so challenging for many of us. And while so much has changed, Ray’s determination and motivation has remained the same and I couldn’t be more proud of everything he has achieved – he is a real inspiration to the whole group.

“Given the links between Covid-19 and obesity and the impact of lockdown has had on our health and wellbeing, I know lots of people are worrying about their weight more than ever before, so I really hope Ray’s weight loss inspires people in Rutland and surrounding areas and show them that now is a great time to take the first step of their journey.

"There’s a whole group of people waiting to support them every step of the way – and absolutely no judgement.”

To find out more visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk.

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