LIFESTYLE

Weight Loss Success: Size XXXXXXXXL Man Loses Half His Body Weight After Taking Up Zumba

22/04/2015 12:38 BST | Updated 22/04/2015 14:59 BST

A 38-stone man, who became too big to work, has waltzed off more than half his body weight after taking up Zumba.

Squeezing into a men's size XXXXXXXXL and suffering from type 2 diabetes, Tony Orrell, 56, knew that something had to change for the sake of his health.

So in 2012 he started dancing and, combining his love of Zumba with a healthy diet plan, managed to lose an incredible 21 stone.

“Once a week I go off with other women, but Debbie doesn’t mind," said Mr Orrell, referring to his wife who shared his weight loss journey with him and now weighs ten stone. "Doing Zumba helps to keep the weight off and I can’t believe how light on my feet I am now.”

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Former bank manager, Mr Orrell said that before the couple lost weight, they didn't really have time to go food shopping because of their hectic careers: "Indian and Chinese takeaway menus were always on the kitchen table.

“I’d order an onion bhaji to start, tikka masala and a rice to myself, a large naan and poppadoms and polish the lot off.”

Mr Orrell also revealed that he'd struggled with his weight since being a child: “I was the fat kid at school, I was always chubby.

“I’ve got a sweet tooth and my mum worked at a biscuit factory, so she was always bringing packets home. I spent all my pocket money on pick and mix.”

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Mr Orrell and his wife met aged 15, when they lived on the same street.

“Debbie caught my eye and I’d wanted to ask her out for ages," he said. "A girl we both knew introduced and I was smitten.”

In May 1997, Mr Orrell was made redundant from his full-time job as a bank manager and by 2003, his size made it too difficult to work.

He couldn't leave the house on his own, so he ordered their food shopping online.

“I could barely leave the house, just getting into the car on our drive left me out of breath. I worked part-time occasionally but Debbie was the breadwinner.

“She was so supportive, our marriage never strained. She knew how hard it was for me and just tried to help me when she could.”

In 2006 for their 25th wedding anniversary, the couple had booked a celebratory holiday to Florida. But they were unable to travel because of his size.

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Mrs Orrell said: “We were looking forward to spending a week in the sun and I’d bought new holiday outfits. I was ticking the days off, couldn’t wait to spend some quality time together.

“But a month before, Tony was struck down with cellulitis and leg ulcers, so painful he was hospitalised and we had to cancel the holiday.

“Tony was so apologetic, I know he felt guilty, but I didn’t care. I just wanted him to get better. We ended up celebrating with a big party instead.”

Cellulitis is an infection in the deeper layers of the skin caused by bacteria and Mr Orrell was more susceptible than most because his legs were swollen.

“Even when we did fly over the years, Tony wouldn’t get out of his seat,” she admitted. “He was so scared he might not fit back in. He couldn’t go to the toilet, because the loo cubicle is so small on a plane.”

Although the pair tried dieting, they said it never worked.

“We’d lose a few pounds then treat ourselves with chocolate,” Mrs Orrell said. “Sometimes we’d go shopping together and I’d have to drop him at the front of the supermarket then go and park. Otherwise he couldn’t walk all that way.

“But it got to a point where Tony hated going out because the staring really upset him.

“I would confront strangers about it, asking if they thought they knew us or if they had a problem. No-one ever said anything rude but I know it really got Tony down," she added.

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Mr Orrell became so big that he developed type 2 diabetes and was taking a cocktail of 15 different tablets and an injection for it daily.

“I was concerned but I just had to be supportive for him," said Mrs Orrell. "I couldn’t control what he was eating.”

Mr Orrell began to pile on the weight shortly after the pair married aged 22: "When we married, Tony’s weight was creeping up while I was a size 10.

“Tony was conscious about getting bigger and we talked about his weight but of course I loved him just as he was. Love is blind. He wasn’t as big then so it wasn’t a big deal to us.”

Aged 25, Debbie then started to pile on the pounds - eventually hitting 18 stone.

Her weight gain coincided with her stopping work as a chef: “I’d always been running around in a boiling kitchen and it was hard work. I ate healthily then, tucking into proper meals on my lunch and at the end of the day.

“But once I started an office job sat at my desk all day, and eating cakes people brought in, my clothes were getting tighter.

With Mr Orrell working at the bank all hours, the couple fell into a rut: “We were living on ready meals and takeaways in the evenings.”

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When Mr Orrell hit 45, his weight had rocketed to 38 stone.

“He was so depressed and withdrawn, we did talk about his weight but we never spoke about how serious it was,” said Mrs Orrell.

“I knew Tony could die if we didn’t do something but that part was unspoken between the two of us.”

At size XXXXXXXXL, Mr Orrell had to buy his clothes from specialists online and was scared to sit on normal chairs.

Mrs Orrell said: “He wouldn’t sit on our friend’s garden furniture in case he broke it. He was petrified of breaking other people’s property. He’s so tall as well. It was like a giant trying to sit down.

“We couldn’t go into coffee shops because he couldn’t fit into the chairs with arms. We wouldn’t go to the cinema in case the chairs weren’t wide enough. Tony was so scared he might get stuck."

After staying with his sister Anna who was having success with the Slimming World diet, they both decided to sign up in April 2012.

Mr Orrell signed up for the group and, despite being "nervous" for his first meeting, he ended up loving it.

Zumba also proved to be a huge success in his weight loss story. So much so, that the 56-year-old now weighs 17 stone, which is 21 stone less than his original weight.

“I’ve got the man I married back, he’s so confident,” Mrs Orrell said.

“He’s a completely different person than I’ve known over the last ten years. And he loves being around the ladies at Zumba, he’s a bit of a charmer. It doesn’t phase him being the only bloke there."

Mrs Orrell revealed that her husband had previously told her he thought he'd be a "fat man forever". But now, thanks to a healthier eating regime and his beloved Zumba, his life has turned around.

“By January 2013, I couldn’t keep up with him. Tony had lost eight stone so we both joined Zumba classes but I have two left feet. I was stumbling everywhere but Tony had a whale of a time.

“He salsa-ed away and loved it. It didn’t hurt he was surrounded by women, they all egg him on," Mrs Orrell grinned.

By June 2013, Mrs Orrell had reached her target weight of 10 stone by sticking to a traditional diet plan and Mr Orrell is still on his way to losing one more stone.

Now, Mr Orrell works for Slimming World as a consultant and runs his own weight loss group.

And Debbie insists she doesn’t worry about the competition from other women.

“He knows I’d kill him,” she laughed.