It was 2021, and I’d been really looking forward to going to the festival with my mates, listening to some good music and making memories. Turns out I did make a few memories. They just weren’t the kind I was expecting…
Even before I got there, it was clear my size was becoming a problem. I weighed nearly 27st, and the button had recently popped off my shorts because they were so tight. I’d tried to find some new ones the day before, but clothes shopping isn’t exactly simple when you have a 48in waist. So, I just sewed the button back on and hoped for the best.
At the festival, it quickly dawned on me that being on my feet all day was going to be hard-going. Just the walk from the entrance to the main stage left me out of breath. I felt uncomfortable the whole time and I even missed one of my favourite bands, Two Door Cinema Club, because I was too exhausted to walk across the field to where they were playing.
My light-bulb moment
I remember thinking to myself: ‘I’m 25 years old. I’m at a music festival with my mates. I should be having the time of my life – but I’m not.’
I’d always struggled with my weight, even as a child. When I was younger, my parents had to put a padlock on our treats cupboard, otherwise I’d eat the lot. Moving away to uni only made it harder to manage my weight. Being independent meant I could eat whatever I wanted – and most boozy nights out would end with a takeaway, then another one the next day to ease my hangover.
I presented myself as the big, funny one. On the inside, though, I was really self-conscious
I needed to lose weight and Slimming World just felt like the best possible place to make that happen. My mum and sister were already members of a group back home in Doncaster, so I knew a little about what to expect – and that I’d be welcomed without judgement and supported.
As a big eater, I felt sure an overly restrictive plan that left me hungry wouldn’t work for me. Thankfully, Food Optimising is the opposite of that! I loved learning to cook – it almost became like therapy for me – and I discovered simple swaps that meant I could recreate healthier versions of all my favourite takeaway dishes, like Chinese chicken. And the advice I got at group helped me to shift my mindset and see that food isn’t the enemy.
Aaron’s day on a plate
A bowl of porridge using my Healthy Extras, topped with lots of fresh fruit.
A supermarket meal deal with a sandwich, crisps and a sugary drink, followed by chocolate or a cake.
Takeaway pizza or Southern-fried chicken and chips.
Crisps, chocolate, sweets, biscuits or cake.
Slimming World Hi-fi bars and flavoured fat-free yogurts.
Taking on new challenges
My family had always been into walking, but I never went with them – I struggled with my fitness so much, even walking to the top of the stairs would leave me gasping. As the weight came off, though, I started going for small walks around the block – it was hard at first, but gradually it got easier and became enjoyable.
In time, the walks progressed to runs, and I’ve since completed the Leeds Half Marathon, which feels like an amazing achievement! I’ve also started hiking and, these days, I genuinely love getting out into the countryside. In the past year, I’ve completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge and even climbed Snowdon and Ben Nevis. My dream is to complete the London Marathon one day.
It feels like my life is just beginning – and I can’t wait to see what’s next for me. Heading back to Leeds Fest feeling fit and confident is definitely a big tick off the list, though!
Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.