I prayed to Jesus ... and then lost an Almighty 11 stone
Tossing and turning in bed and unable to sleep, Roy Stevenson uttered a prayer that somehow he would find the strength to go on a diet and shed the weight that was making him super obese.
The 48-year-old civil servant was weighing in at a mighty 28 stones five-and-a-half pounds in his socks and was in despair and even talking to surgeons about a gastric bypass operation.
But there was no available funding in Northern Ireland for the surgery to staple his stomach and Roy was at the bottom of a waiting list for hospitals in England.
“I was desperate that night in bed,” recalls the father of two young sons who is a worshipper in Larne Mission Hall.
“I had tried all kinds of fad diets and nothing worked. So I asked the Almighty for help.”
Roy claims his prayer was answered a few days later when a friend persuaded him to go along to the Ballyclare Men Only Weightwatchers Class.
And guided by leader Marie Reynolds he says that now, 16 months later, he has found the solution to his weight problem.
For Mr Stevenson in that time had taken off a colossal 11 stones and now stands at what for him is a respectable 17 stones five-and-a-half pounds.
“With Marie and Weightwatchers’ help — and divine guidance — I took off a stone — 14 lbs — a month and I still haven't reached the ideal weight Mrs Reynolds wants me to attain. When surgeons got in touch last Christmas with the word I could have the stomach surgery at last I was able to tell them that by that stage I had already shed seven stones and could decline the operation.
“My prayers when I was really crying out for some kind of aid were definitely answered.”
However, Marie Reynolds isn't finished with him yet.
“Roy is an ideal member of the class,” she said, “but he needs to take off another 2.5 stones to reach what for him will be an ideal weight of 15 stones. I have no doubt he will achieve this aim. He is a shining example to all his classmates.”
Mr Stevenson was a burly, heavily built rugby player in his youth who spent his early working life as a tyre fitter with his father.
“I was an active individual until I joined the Civil Service and sat behind a desk all day and started to put on weight,” he said.
“And I liked all kinds of food. I refused nothing — I would have eaten anything with junk food, potato crisps and pork pies my speciality. I became so gross that it was embarrassing to go bathing at the seaside with my sons. Everything was a physical strain for me, even turning in bed. I had to sleep lying on my back and even that wasn't comfortable.
Roy is now a keen walker too and getting back to the kind of active lifestyle he used to enjoy.
“I feel real again,” he said.