When Simon Smith planned to freefall 829 feet down the tallest tower in Las Vagas, he had a small problem – he needed to lose weight.
He had to be below 19 stone six pounds to take part, so he slimmed to 19 stone four and took the plunge on the adrenalin-busting Sky Jump – a controlled decelerator descent – from the Stratosphere Tower.
The occasion was Simon’s 40th birthday and it was an incredible thing to do to mark the milestone.
And it was a turning point.
He first started Slimming World at the age of 17, weighing over 24 stone but his commitment to the diet was on and off for several years.
After the Vegas jump, he joined a Slimming World group in West Bridgford but found his weight was still going up and down.
Then last January “something clicked” and powered on by his determination Simon is now 17 stone two and a half pounds, losing seven stone and two pounds.
But he’s not done yet.
“By Christmas I want to have lost ten stone,” he says.
“You can drink alcohol – in moderation – on the plan but I haven’t had any since April.
Simon, 46, who lives in Clifton, lost two and a half stone in lockdown alone.
“One of the benefits from working from home is you cut out the commute time so by 5pm you are able to prepare meals better and get out and do your exercise. Pre-lockdown you’d get back from work at 6.30pm so I’ve found the lockdown process period really beneficial”.
Simon says there are other men at Slimming World on similar weight loss journeys, as well as women.
His advice to other men is: “I think they have just got to have the belief in yourself and don’t feel like you are going to be judged; you have just got to take that step. The thing is, you won’t regret it. You will start to see the difference, see the weight coming off and feel much better in yourself.
“It’s not a female-only thing. There are loads of males in Slimming World across the country”.
Simon, who is university head of admissions, is able to do 100 kilometre walks over two days. “If I hadn’t lost weight, I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” he says.
And he’s planning to return to Vegas.
“It will be nice if we get to go back. I will go back healthier, fitter and will have lost more weight”.
Double gold Slimming World consultant Naomi Wagstaff said: “I am so proud of Simon. He initially joined Slimming World to achieve a holiday dream which he smashed. He has now lost twice the amount of weight and sets himself mini goals to keep him focused.
“He has embraced body magic and food optimising, achieving some fantastic challenges, and has inspired members every single week in the virtual group by losing a fantastic 2.5 stone during lockdown – amazing!”