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Councillors reflect on fitness challenge one year on

Councillors who took part in a fitness drive as part of Wolverhampton's Call to Action over obesity have been reflecting on their accomplishments one year on.

At one point a few years ago, Councillor Paul Sweet tipped the scales at 29 stone – pictured left – but is now 15st 7lbs after losing over 7 stone in the last 12 months
Councillor Paul Sweet before and after

Councillor Paul Sweet has lost more than 7 stone in an obesity challenge
Councillor Paul Sweet after his weight loss

Last autumn, Paul Sweet, Stephen Simkins and Daniel Warren took up a challenge thrown down by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Public Health team as it launched a programme to tackle the obesity crisis facing the city.

And 12 months on, Councillor Warren has reached his target weight, Councillor Simkins has improved his health and wellbeing while Councillor Sweet has shed over 7 stone, with more to go.

They began the challenge by working with health trainers from the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust, undergoing health checks and developing bespoke health and fitness programmes focusing on exercise and diet.

Indeed, the dramatic improvements in the trio's fitness levels meant they were able to complete the half marathon and 20km cycle races at last month's Carver's Wolverhampton Marathon - something they could have only have dreamed of doing 12 months ago.

Ros Jervis, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "As part of our Call to Action over obesity, Daniel, Stephen and Paul bravely put themselves in the spotlight to tackle their own health issues. They have all been successful and achieved the different outcomes they wanted, and their efforts should be an inspiration to all of us.

"What is really interesting is that, during the challenge, the trio began to focus on the specific outcomes they each wanted; rather than focusing on weight loss, Councillor Simkins used the challenge to improve his health and well being, while Councillor Warren aimed for a weight he felt more comfortable with. Councillor Sweet's success is extraordinary, achieving levels of weight loss rarely seen."

Councillor Sweet, who tipped the scales at 22st 9lbs at the start of the challenge and is now just 15st 7lbs, said: "The health implications of being overweight are all too obvious. I was determined to do something about it before it was too late, and this Call to Action was just the incentive I needed.

"I don't mind admitting it was incredibly daunting at first, being as heavy as I was, but thanks to fantastic support I've had from various people, not least the Healthy Lifestyles Team, I've been able to achieve something I never thought was possible. I feel so much better for it, and am physically able to do so much more than I was 12 months ago.

"Now, as well as concentrating my efforts on continuing my weight loss journey and exercise regime, I'm looking to see what I can do to improve workplace health. As a council, we want to adopt the NHS Workplace Well being Charter.  This will allow us to embed a range of policies and initiatives which will help us to improve the health of our workers - and we want other employers in the city to do the same."

Councillor Simkins, who used the challenge to address the causes of his weight issues, said: "Over the last 12 months, I've become much more conscious about what I'm eating, not just the quality of the food but also portion sizes. I'm eating more protein and a lot of vegetables, and I've started to grow my own herbs and cooking much more from scratch.

"I've also been able to bring exercise into my daily routine in a practical way. For instance, I'll hop on the bike when I commute from Bilston to Wolverhampton, instead of getting the bus, and challenge myself to improve my travel time.

"I'm really enjoying my accomplishments, and the long term health benefits they are bringing. Now I want to focus on understanding what is happening in my body, why I crave certain foods and what I can do to help me deal with these demons, because I know that, no matter how much exercise I do, it will not overcome a poor diet."

Councillor Warren, who lost around a stone and a half during the challenge, said: "I've said from the outset that my goal has been to improve my health and fitness levels so that I could play football again on a regular basis, and I'm pleased to say that with the help and support of the health trainers, I've been able to achieve this and live a more active lifestyle.

"I've also reduced portion sizes and cut back on alcohol, fast food and junk food, though I still allow myself the occasional treat in moderation. Exercise is now a regular part of my routine and I am confident that will help me maintain a weight I am comfortable with."

Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "We've been impressed by the dedication and commitment of the 3 councillors who have taken part in our obesity challenge, and we hope that other people who are struggling with weight loss issues are inspired to do something about it."

For more information about the free help available to people with weight issues from the Healthy Lifestyles Service, please call 0800 073 4242 or 01902 444246, email rwh-tr.healthy-lifestyles@nhs.net or visit the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust Healthy Lifestyles Service.

  • released: Tuesday 13 October, 2015