World Heart Day: ‘Inspirational’ Cleckheaton slimmer loses two stone after ‘dying five times’ on operating table
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Neil Shires, from Dewsbury, was left with a weak heart a few years ago after contracting swine flu and was seriously ill in hospital.
He recalled: “I was in and out of a coma. I died five times on the operating table and was left with a damaged heart, so doing nothing about my weight and my health wasn’t an option.
“The final straw was when the doctor told me I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and was obese. This really frightened me and I knew I had to do something about it.
“Carrying too much weight with an already damaged heart meant I was constantly out of breath, struggled to do my job, always felt low on energy and had constant joint pain - you name it!”
Plucking up the courage he joined Carol Rayner’s Cleckheaton Slimming World Group on Monday evenings for some much-needed support.
He said: “Now, after losing two stones, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is normal and I am no longer diabetic.
“I have more energy, I run around with the dog and everything feels easier - even silly things like picking something up off the floor.”
Marking World Heart Day today, Friday, September 29, Alexandra Clark, a registered nutritionist at Slimming World, says losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease and can also help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are both associated with increased risk.
She said: “Neil’s story shows how being a healthy weight is one of the key things you can do to support your heart health – losing just five per cent of your body weight can reduce the risk of heart disease.
“Eating more healthily and getting more active are known to improve heart health yet we know changing habits that have formed over years - sometimes decades - takes time. The in-depth support and encouragement shared at our weekly Slimming World groups is what helps our members, like Neil, to make long term behaviour changes.
“Our programme is built on a deep understanding of how people with a weight problem feel, coupled with a healthy eating plan based on the science of energy density and satiety — a powerful combination.”
The nutritionist advises five ways to try and keep your heart healthy: manage your weight; limit salt intake; cut down on unhealthy fat; fill up on fibre; get active.
On Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Neil said: “I love the variety of foods you can eat. I cook from scratch and I love it. My favourite is a tasty chilli, it tastes so good, and as a family we enjoy the meals together.
Praising the slimmer, consultant Carol said: “Neil has totally changed his lifestyle, not just the way he eats and cooks, but his activity levels and his mindset too. He’s an incredible inspiration in the group.
“It’s not easy making changes to lifelong habits and the support from the group is key to keeping your motivation topped up.”
Neil concluded: “I couldn’t have done it with my group. Their support and encouragement every week is fantastic. We have a great laugh and I’ve made close friends too.
“Carol has been an amazing support all the way through my journey, especially in testing times. Thank you!”
For more information about local groups contact Carol Rayner 07584573124.