A man who was left struggling to breathe because of his weight is on a health mission – to try to lose 10st in the year of his 50th birthday.
At his heaviest, Shaun Sheldon, 49, from Jarrow, weighed 25st 9lb and was a size XXL with a 52-inch waist.
One morning the dad-of-two woke up gasping for breath and contacted his GP.
He was referred to a sleep clinic at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where he was diagnosed with sleep apnea caused by the weight around his neck, which was closing his airway.
Shaun, who used to work as a baker, said medics also found that his nosebleeds were caused by high blood pressure.
His health problems were the wake-up call he needed to make a change and he joined the Slimming World Group run by Davina Smith at the Masonic Hall in Hebburn in April 2018.
Since then, Shaun, who now works as a warehouse distributor, has lost 5st 9lb and is now a 46 to 48-inch waist and weighs in at 20st.
Shaun knows he is unlikely to hit his target before his 50th birthday in May, but is determined to end the year 10 stone lighter.
He said: “Over the past few years I have been struggling with my weight and it was starting to affect my health and my job, and yet I did nothing about it and it kept going up and up every time I weighed myself.
“I normally ate out of boredom or stress and it was mostly bread, crisps, biscuits and cake.
“One night I got a shock when I abruptly woke up and it felt like I had stopped breathing.”
He added:“It was then I had to do something about it as I was heading for an early grave. So I found out where the nearest Slimming World was and since I walkedthrough the doors, I haven’t looked back.
“My target is to lose 10st, and up to now I have lost 5st 9lb since I joined in April 2018. I feel much fitter now and proud of myself in what I have accomplished so far.
“I turn 50 this year and hope I will be able to hit my target by the end of the year.”
Before he started Slimming World Shaun would eat sandwiches, crisps and biscuits for breakfast, and the same for lunch, before tucking into a frozen meal for dinner and washing it all down with coke.
Now his diet has completely changed, with Shaun choosing the likes of cereal and fruit for breakfast, salads for lunch and a home-cooked meal such as chicken casserole for dinner.
He has also replaced snacking on biscuits with the likes of yoghurt.