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Matt sheds 18st and finds style
11:05am Saturday 19th May 2012 in Features
Matt wears Blue blazer, Hackett (rrp £400, outlet price £268), Blue shirt, Hackett (rrp £95, outlet price £63), white trousers, Hackett (rrp £110, outlet price £77), blue deck shoes, Daniel Footwear (outlet price £84.99)
York super slimmer Matt Briggs models the latest looks for summer and tells MAXINE GORDON about being a “thinspiration”.
WITH his broad shoulders, boy-band haircut and tanned skin, Matt Briggs looks every inch the male model. Yet every time he passes a mirror he has to pinch himself.
Two years ago, 30-year-old Matt tipped the scales at a hefty 31 stone. Today he has lost more than 18 stone and hovers around the 13-and-a-half stone mark.
The store manager from Strensall says he’s still getting used to the new Matt. “I still occasionally walk past mirrors and have to take a double glance.”
The sighting of a picture on Facebook of Matt with his dad Peter spurred him on to tackle his spiralling weight. He joined Slimming World and followed its healthy-eating programme.
“I didn’t realise how big I was,” says Matt, who now runs two Slimming World groups in York and has just won Slimming World’s highest accolade, the “Greatest Loser” award.
Matt is relishing his new body. He loves shopping for new clothes and has thrown himself into a rigorous exercise regime.
At his heaviest, Matt took a 5XL top size while his waist measured 56 inches. “I needed to shop at specialist shops in Leeds and buy my clothes online,” he says.
Now he can just walk into high street favourites such as H&M, Zara or River Island and buy straight off the peg.
At our fashion shoot at York Designer Outlet, Matt was delighted to show off trendy looks from leading labels such as Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers and Hackett.
He is cautious about splurging too much on a new wardrobe because his body is still changing shape. He is still shy of his target weight and mindful of how his exercise habits are altering his physique.
Exercise played a big part in Matt’s success. “I started small, just walking. I would park my car at York Hospital and walk to work. It was only a mile, but I built it up,” he said.
Now he trains regularly at the gym, runs, cycles, swims and does Zumba.
He has already taken part in a 50km charity bike ride and is planning to do the York 10K this summer and the Great North Run in the autumn. Next year, he wants to compete in the New York marathon.
Healthy eating was vital too. Matt admits he used to be a fussy eater, and would fill up on sugary coffees, pizza and chocolate. Once, the only vegetables he would eat were potatoes; he would tolerate peas and sweetcorn, but he’d down them whole with a drink of water. Now he is game for anything and is broadening his culinary horizons and taste buds all the time.
“I had cherry tomatoes and mushy peas for the first time last week – I’d never tried them before,” says Matt.
“If you think of it as a diet you are doomed to fail. You have to embrace it as a change of lifestyle. I used to be a picky eater but now I eat a wide variety of foods.
“I come out the supermarket now and there is nothing bad in my trolley. I used to come out and it was packed with processed food and crisps and chocolates.”
Matt hopes his story will inspire others to tackle their weight problems, particularly men.
“Slimming World is predominately a female environment,” he says. “It’s great we help lots of women lose weight, however they are just 50 per cent of the population and there’s a massive problem of men having issues with obesity.”
He says it is never too late to start over. “Up until the age of 27, I just presumed I’d be big. I used to get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. That became my existence.
“You need to find the point that helps you get motivated. For me, it was that photograph on Facebook.”
Matt turned 30 a couple of weeks ago. It was, he says, a milestone. “Physically and mentally I feel fantastic. I look at turning 30 and think of it as a brand new start. I’m just waiting to see what the world chucks at me now!”
• Matt runs his Slimming World classes at Strensall Village Hall on Mondays at 7pm and York RI Sports Club, New Lane, Holgate on Thursdays at 7pm. Find out more at slimmingworld.com
• The York Designer Outlet is hosting a men’s fashion weekend from June 15 to 17, to tie in with the first Men’s London Fashion Weekend and Father’s Day.
• Follow Maxine on twitter @MaxineYGordon
Hair: by Tory Hartley at Michael Andrew, 11 Coppergate, York. Tel: 01904 677 016.
Clothes: York Designer Outlet.
Stylist: Sally Gilbank.
Photography: Mike Cowling.