I'm a Disney superfan who works at Co-op Live - I lost 16st to go on theme park rides and play Prince Charming

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Co-op Live’s Ben Clark weighed more than 30 stone before having gastric sleeve surgery.

A Disney superfan who was so big he couldn't fit in the theme park rides has lost 16 stone to play Prince Charming on stage.

Ben Clark, 35, tipped the scales at more than 30 stone and had a 48 to 50 inch waist before travelling to Poland for gastric sleeve surgery in October 2022. He realised the need to take action on his weight when he was unable to board rides at Disney World during a trip to Orlando, Florida, US, in September 2022.

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Ben spent £5,000 on the procedure, including flights and medication, and lost 16st 7lbs and can now fit on the rides with ease. He even landed his dream role as Prince Charming in Cinderella at the Taylor Hall at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, Kent.

Ben Clark, before his weight loss surgery.Ben Clark, before his weight loss surgery.
Ben Clark, before his weight loss surgery. | Ben Clark / SWNS

Ben, who is a level manager at the Co-op Live arena, from Manchester, said: "I couldn’t go on some of the rides because I couldn't fit. I'm a huge Disney nerd. I have been back on stage in three amateur shows since and finally played the role of Prince Charming.

"The weight loss has given me confidence and it makes it easier. I would not have been able to do this before."

The clinic in Poland came under the recommendation of Ben’s godmother who went under the knife a year before. Ben described the operation as "painful" and the need to diet before and after as "hard work".

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The surgery removed two thirds of his stomach - restricting the amount he needs to eat to feel full. He has since lost 16st 7lbs - and now weighs 12st 9lbs and can wear a waist size of 30 to 32 inches.

Ben said: "A lot of people think it is the easy way out but you still have to do a lot of work after. The stomach is still a muscle and you can stretch it, so for eight weeks after you are on a very strict diet."

Ben Clark after the weight loss surgery at Disneyland Ben Clark after the weight loss surgery at Disneyland
Ben Clark after the weight loss surgery at Disneyland | Ben Clark / SWNS

Post-surgery, Ben said his diet has completely changed but he still employs hacks to trick himself into keeping disciplined.

He said: "My biggest thing was I'd easily drink two plus litres of fizzy drink a day. I still treat myself to chocolate or sweets or what I want but it's in small quantities and once in a blue moon.

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“I can eat anything but only small amounts, like I will have a small chicken breast and some vegetables and be full. Instead of using a normal plate, I will use a side plate. It still looks like a full meal that way."

When Ben was younger, he was involved in musical theatre as a dancer and later as a dance teacher, and had always longed to return to the craft. Ben’s body transformation has allowed him to return to the stage.

Ben Clark playing Prince Charming in the Margate Operatic Society's production of Cinderella at Taylor Hall in Kent.  Ben Clark playing Prince Charming in the Margate Operatic Society's production of Cinderella at Taylor Hall in Kent.
Ben Clark playing Prince Charming in the Margate Operatic Society's production of Cinderella at Taylor Hall in Kent. | Ben Clark / SWNS

He achieved his dream of playing the pantomime prince in the Margate Operatic Society’s production of Cinderella. Ben also said that the weight loss journey had made him “a lot happier as a person” and inspired him to change careers and move from Margate to Manchester.

He now intends to save money both for procedures to have loose skin removed and for a trip to Florida. He said: "I really want to have the chance to do the trip again and do those rides and experience Florida as a slimmer person."

What Ben ate before his diet

  • Breakfast - nothing
  • Lunch - nothing
  • Mid afternoon snack - a cake or chocolate bar
  • Dinner - a fully cooked dinner portion for two, a roast
  • Late night snack - a take away - kebab, chips and chicken wings or a KFC or a large amount of McDonalds
  • Drinks - two litres of fizzy drink a day

What Ben ate after his diet

  • Breakfast - protein porridge or overnight oats
  • Mid morning snack - boiled egg or protein bar / shake
  • Lunch - chicken breast (flavoured) or a tin of tuna
  • Afternoon snack - nuts or hummus or protein bar / shake
  • Dinner - a heavy protein meal but side plate size
  • Drinks - water or squash, decaf coffee

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