A MAN who joined a slimming group last year has lost nearly nine stone after excess weight put his health at risk.

Graham Bleakley joined Tiptree Slimming World in September 2018 after suffering joint pain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

He was diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago and had to start taking injections and tablets to combat the condition.

The 57-year-old now claims the weight loss has completely turned his life around.

Graham said: “I could start to feel the pressure and strain on my body when sometimes working 18-hour days.

“As the weight has come off, I started light running, which I have not done since I was at school 40 years ago.

“I then began walking three miles every evening with dumbbells.

“I now regularly run and do lots of walking and exercising on a rowing machine.

“I feel so much better, much fitter and have a lot more confidence.”

He has dropped from a staggering 22st 1.5lbs to just 13st.

Graham said: “My blood pressure and cholesterol are under control and I don’t need to take any diabetic medicine anymore and am running on an ankle that used to be so painful.

“The Tiptree group is full of lovely, friendly members and we are never judged, just encouraged from our consultant.

“I have always felt welcome at the group and we give each other encouragement, inspiration and determination to carry on with our success.

“We are not pressured to get involved but we always have a good laugh together and the taster menus we produce always bring a bit more fun to group.”

Graham had slowly piled on the pounds while working in the catering industry for 36 years.

He claims he used to eat unhealthily at work, tasting sauces full of cream, butter and alcohol, and picking at off-cuts.

The super slimmer added: “I don’t classify the Slimming World as a diet, it’s more of an education on my eating habits and food choices.

“I can still have a few treats so don’t really feel like I am missing out.

“It’s just a matter of being sensible and, of course, determined.”