When James Pepper, from Market Deeping in Lincolnshire, reached his 30th birthday he realised he’d been overweight since he was 15. After promising himself he wouldn’t spend the next 15 years continuing to feel unhappy with his size, he joined Slimming World. Now he’s lost an amazing 10st 6lb and been named Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2012! James shares his inspiring story with us…
“At 15 I was just a little bit overweight but I didn’t do anything about it and I got bigger and bigger. Whenever I felt unhappy, whether it was about my weight or something else, I’d cheer myself up by buying something nice to eat like a cake or a pie. It carried on like that for the next 15 years. I always knew I needed to do something about my weight but I didn’t know what, so I’d put it to the back of my mind.”
But when a friend asked James how he was planning to celebrate his 30th birthday he knew he couldn’t hide from it any longer: “That was the trigger because I realised then that I’d been unhappy with my size for half of my life. I asked my colleague Caroline, who had lost a lot of weight, about the Slimming World group she went to and agreed to go with her, she was delighted because she got a free week for bringing along a new member!”
So in June 2011 James joined the Deeping St James Slimming World group, run by Cheryl Hall. He says: “I was really nervous because I had the impression there’d be lots of women – and to be fair there was, but they were all really welcoming and friendly.
Everyone’s so supportive and I really enjoy sharing ideas and recipes. Even talking about what someone else is struggling with or planning for their week ahead helps you as you pick up new ideas.”
When James returned to school in September after the summer holidays almost 5st lighter, he was greeted by cheers from his pupils because of the enormous change. By his birthday in October James had lost nearly 6st and since then he’s shed another 4½st. He says the biggest change is learning to plan his meals: “I never used to think about what I’d have for dinner until I was on my way home, which means I’d pick up a takeaway or grab something quick and easy – and usually unhealthy – from the supermarket. Since joining Slimming World I enjoy cooking meals from scratch, my favourite is homemade burgers and potato wedges with salad.”
James also started to become more active, walking more and even going swimming for the first time in 12 years. It’s had a huge impact on school life too: “As a geography teacher I go on lots of trips. I used to huff and puff my way up mountains, following the kids while someone else led, but now I’m first off the bus and charging up the hill. The kids at school have been really supportive and asked lots of questions, someone even asked if they could write a magazine article on me for their coursework which was very flattering. I think it’s important to be honest with them and I always say I wish I’d done something at their age, but at least I can say I finally got fit at 30!”