A Jewish studies teacher who has shed nearly 14 stone in under two years has been named as one of Slimming World's slimmers of the year.
Michael Drucker of Edgware, who got a kosher bakery to introduce low calorie challah rolls, won the award in the consultant category – for those who run local Slimming World groups.
Once 28 stone with a 60-inch waist, Mr Drucker is close to reaching his healthier target weight of just under 14 stone.
"My appetite is as big as before," said the 45-year old father of four, who is a member of Edgware Adass Yisroel congregation and teaches part-time at Hasmonean High School, "but now I eat the right food."
While he had always been "big", he said, as a teenager he had played a lot of sport. "I even lost weight in yeshivah in Manchester because the food was pretty meagre".
But he began to balloon after marrying in 1987 – "my wife is a fantastic cook".
Ultimately, his weight began to cause problems. "There were so many things I couldn't do – like putting on my socks properly." Two years ago he was gnawed by a sense of "not fitting in" at his second son's wedding. "Any photograph I was in looked unbalanced. I felt I was ruining their day."
By then he had started going to his local Slimming World group in Edgware in August 2009, having overcome his fear of being an isolated male in what he imagined would be a mostly female environment.
Last October, having lost his job as head of education at JNF UK when the department closed, Mr Drucker began training as a Slimming World consultant. He now runs two groups in Edgware with 250 members – nearly half of whom are men.
Mr Drucker says there are problems with traditional Ashkenazi diets, which were "designed for heavy labour. It's fine if you burn 6,000 calories a day."
While many in his groups are Jewish – "I have a Chasid who has lost six stone" – he is proud of their multicultural mix, and recently found low-fat pork sausages to advise some of his members.