‘Big Dave’ loses eight stone - but he says he's still got a long way to go

The Bolton News: Dave Fleming Dave Fleming

ANYONE looking for inspiration to get fit and lose weight in the New Year should look no further than Dave Fleming — winner of the Get Active Health Improvement Award.

The 45-year-old says he had always battled with his weight and was known to friends as “Big Dave” — a nickname he had accepted as “who he was”.

Mr Fleming had tried diets and had shed some of the weight, but the pounds would always creep back on.

But last March, the salesman from Smithills decided enough was enough and went to his GP for help.

Mr Fleming, who at his heaviest weighed 34 stone, said: “It was the small, everyday things that I was struggling with which made me realise I needed to do something about my weight.

“Just things like when I went to the football, my mates would all go through the turnstyles and I would have to find the disabled entrance because I was too big.

“It’s things like that that get you down. But I was just putting it off until I reached 34 stone and that’s when I decided to do something about it. I’d done it to myself and got myself to that stage, so I decided to sort it out.

“I was told I was at risk of developing diabetes and that was the scariest thing.

The father-of-one first signed up with Bolton Council’s Weight Management Team to work with a dietician every two weeks.

Mr Fleming then joined the Get Active Team and joined the gym at the Bolton Arena to start his new fitness regime.

So far he has managed to lose eight stone, but says he is only half way on his weight loss journey. Mr Fleming is aiming to get down to 15 stone.

He says the key to weight loss and lifestyle is having positive support.

He explained: “The thing is, I had been on diets before through things like Weight Watchers and it would work initially. But as soon as you come off their point system, you put the weight back on.

“This time it was about changing my lifestyle and the support I got from the nutritionists and Get Active team is invaluable.

“If you have access to a personal trainer, they can just give you that extra push and motivation which is something I had never had.

“They’ve been fantastic and so encouraging, and never critical. They never let you down either. It’s been very humbling really as well as moral boosting.

“To help me keep on track with my diet, I write everything down that I eat every day. When I used to go out for a meal, I would have always ordered steak and chips, whereas now I will always go for the fish or white meat option.

“I’ve learnt so much about food and now I treat it like fuel for my body. I’ve also learned how to watch my portion sizes.

“As soon as I started losing the weight, I just felt so much better about myself and had so much more energy.

“When it comes down to weight loss, the message is pretty simple. Eat healthy and work out. It’s no big secret.”

Child and adult obesity levels are higher than the national average in Bolton, but the council and GPs have a number of schemes in place to tackle the problem.

A council spokesman said: “There are a number of ways we can help people to work towards a healthier weight.

“From an early age we encourage healthy eating through toddler groups and school meal initiatives, plus there are a range of courses that assist people with their cooking and shopping skills, such as Cook4Life and the Wellbeing project.

“There is additional help for adults who are overweight or obese. The community weight management scheme, Riteweight, supports people to lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight, with weekly sessions and lots of advice on healthy eating.

“As well as healthy eating initiatives, the Get Active service is available for everyone in Bolton and offers a range of options for adults who want to get more active.

“The website has advice on ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle through exercise, from doing household chores and taking the stairs instead of the lift, to more structured activities like exercises classes and gym sessions.”

The team can also tailor an exercise programme for people with specific health issues who have been referred by their GP.

They have schemes for people referred from the weight management team, cancer, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation teams and can help individuals increase their activity levels by doing exercise they enjoy.

For more information, go to: getactivebolton.co.uk

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