03:13 PM

Ross is flying high after a 71.5lbs weight loss!

  • Ross Hebden spent an uncomfortable flight to Turkey wedged into his plane seat because he was too embarrassed to ask for a seatbelt extender

  • A photo taken when he went to pick up his new car spurred Ross into action

  • The 36-year-old is in fighting shape, has completed numerous half marathons and loves to play football

  • In an email from a colleague, he was once described as the ‘fat and ugly bloke’ which destroyed his confidence

A dad-of-three who was once so overweight he struggled to fit into an airplane seat has lost more than 70lbs.

Ross Hebden, 36, had struggled with his weight since childhood and his unhealthy eating habits continued when he met his wife Amanda, 36, as they settled into a routine of enjoying indulgent meals and cozy takeouts together.

Ross works in insurance and lives in Gloucestershire, England, with Amanda and their three children Ailla, six, Rewan, four, and Elowen, one. He says: “I’ve battled with my weight for much of my life, so living as an overweight person had become a daily struggle. The first time I set foot on an airplane I think it really hit me just how big I’d become.

“We were going on a vacation to Turkey with friends and I could just about buckle the seatbelt. I was too embarrassed to ask for an extender though, so I spent the whole flight feeling squashed and uncomfortable, especially when the in-flight meal arrived because I could barely get the tray down over my stomach.”

A cruel work email also left Ross feeling ashamed because of his weight: “It had got to the stage where I was almost used to people making comments about my size. But when an email went around at work which called me the ‘fat and ugly bloke,’ I was devastated. I wasn’t supposed to receive it, but that didn’t matter – my self-worth was completely destroyed and I just couldn’t shake it off.”

In the past Ross tried to lose the pounds by upping his exercise levels, but without a healthy eating plan to go alongside it, his progress was often slow and frustrating. He says: “I was getting physically fitter, yet I still wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I hadn’t done anything to address my eating habits. Plus, if I did lose some weight I found it really hard to keep it off. I yo-yoed like this for a few years until I decided to enter the Tewkesbury Half Marathon in England. Almost as soon as I started my training I badly injured my knee, which I knew was down to the extra weight I was carrying.

“The final straw really came when Amanda and I went to buy a new family car and we had a photograph taken at the shop to celebrate. When I saw it my heart sank. Despite the exercise, I could see I was almost getting back to my biggest and deep down I knew that if I really wanted to lose weight, I had to look at what I was eating. Amanda had recently given birth to Elowen and was joining Slimming World to lose some baby weight, so I thought I’d bite the bullet and go along with her.”

At first Ross was worried that he’d have to go hungry in order to lose weight, so he was surprised to learn that he could still enjoy all of his favorite meals – they just had to be prepared and cooked in a different way.

He says: “Amanda had followed Slimming World’s eating plan before so I knew the meals tasted delicious, yet I still worried that I’d have to give up my favorite foods. Going to the group really opened my eyes to a whole new way of eating though. I realized that with a few adjustments I could still enjoy a bacon sandwich for breakfast, I just needed to trim the fat off my meat and switch to whole wheat bread.

Now runner and gym enthusiast, Ross has another hobby which has benefitted greatly from his weight loss. “I’ve always had an interest in football – it was a sport I could play even at my biggest. Back then I formed part of the offensive line as I was a big guy… although now I’m too slim for that position! I’ve switched roles to a more attacking position which sees me move around and affect the play a lot more, and I absolutely love it. Nowadays running is much easier too and I’ve completed several half marathons in under two hours, which is something I never really thought possible.”

Ross Hebden
I’ve always had an interest in football – it was a sport I could play even at my biggest. Back then I formed part of the offensive line as I was a big guy… although now I’m too slim for that position! I’ve switched roles to a more attacking position which sees me move around and affect the play a lot more, and I absolutely love it.
Ross Hebden

The most important change Ross’ weight loss has brought is a little closer to home though. He says: “For me, everything that I have done has been for my family. I wanted to support my wife on her Slimming World journey, but I also wanted to be the best possible father to my kids. I was becoming the kind of dad who was tired all the time or was too out of breath to play with them, and that wasn’t who I wanted to be. Now I’ve got plenty of energy to keep up with my three wonderful children and I couldn’t be happier about that.

“I really understood just how far I’d come when I had to get on a plane again. We were flying to Spain, and this time around it was such a different experience. I had plenty of room, my knees didn’t dig into the seat in front and I could pull the table down with ease! I feel like a totally different person, one that is full of confidence and ready to take on whatever life throws at me.”


Name: Ross Hebden

Age: 36

Height: 6’1”/1.85m

Starting weight: 260½lbs/118kg

Current weight: 189lbs/86kg

Weight loss: 71½lbs/32kg

Starting waist measurement: 42in

Current waist measurement: 34in

Date joined Slimming World: 13th June 2017

Before menu

Breakfast: A bacon sandwich on white buttered bread with ketchup

Snack: Candy bar or bag of chips

Lunch: Triple-layer sandwich with chips, chocolate, soda and a doughnut or two

Dinner: Chicken tikka masala made with a sauce from a jar and served with a garlic naan bread

Snack: Doughnuts, cookies, share-size bag of chips

After menu

Breakfast: A traditional English breakfast made with low-fat sausages, lean bacon, beans, tomatoes and eggs fried in a pan sprayed with low-calorie cooking spray

Mid-morning: An apple

Lunch: A large chicken salad

Dinner: Homemade sticky teriyaki pork served with vegetables and wholegrain rice or homemade cheesy chicken risotto

Evening snack: Small candy bar or flavoured fat-free Greek yogurt, low-fat ice cream or a hot chocolate with marshmallows