Being the biggest kid in my class at school didn’t really bother me. Back then I felt pretty healthy and was fairly active, too – I’d taken up table tennis aged 14 and was fast enough to keep my opponents on their toes. It was when I began earning my own money and going out with my friends that more weight began to creep on. I pretty much lived on takeaways. 

My partner and I had heard very good things about Slimming World, and in 2009 I went with her to our local group. I was a bit concerned I’d be the only man there – I soon realised that really wasn’t an issue. We stayed for about three months and both did really well. As we were cooking and eating together at home, we found Food Optimising fairly easy. 

So why did I stop going? My shift pattern changed at work, which meant I couldn’t always make group. I know I could have found a different group at a more convenient time and gone to that. Instead, I just let it trail off, at the same time thinking I’d be able to follow the plan under my own steam. How wrong I was.

Starting over

Unfortunately, I fell back into my old eating habits quite quickly and the weight started to go on again. By January 2013, my partner and I had separated, and I was living back with my parents. My sister, Jo, and I both decided we wanted to lose weight for two upcoming weddings, so went along to a Slimming World group together. It had worked for me in the past, so I knew it would work again. I just had to stick at it this time...

It was the same story. We both lost a couple of stones fairly fast and felt really pleased – I was back on track. Then life got in the way. Although I swore blind I’d be more disciplined and carry on Food Optimising on my own, it just didn’t happen. 

I soon went back to my old clothes size – and then up another. I was having to buy XXL T-shirts and baggy jeans, and even they felt tight. A group of us went to Magaluf for a week on a joint stag-and-hen do and, while I had the time of my life, any attempts to be sensible about my diet went right out of the window. By the time the wedding came around, I was bigger than ever. When I saw myself in the wedding photographs, I realised something needed to change – again.

Third time lucky

Summer was over and I was approaching my 30th birthday. For the first time, I started to worry about my health. I knew it was now or never. Jo wanted to get back in shape after the summer, too, so she agreed to come to group with me again.

This time, my mindset was totally different. I lost a couple of stones pretty quickly, as before. 

Then, instead of thinking I’d done the hard work and could ease up, I looked to my Consultant and the rest of the group for advice on what to do next.

For the first time ever, I decided to join a gym. I now go three times a week and have built exercise into my daily routine. And I really enjoy it. In fact, one of my new ambitions is to take part in a triathlon. 

I generally steer clear of takeaways and, when I eat out in pubs or restaurants, I plan ahead and use my Syns. I’ve also changed my drinking habits. If I’m honest, I used to down whatever was put in my hand. Now, I stick to lower Syn bottled beers or vodka with a diet mixer on a night out. 

My initial goal was to lose 6st – and I managed this in 10 months. With the help of my Consultant, I lowered my target twice and now I’m just over 12½st. Like most people, I’ve had ups and downs along the way and it’s been the support that’s got me through the more difficult times. I’ve made good friends through Slimming World and, as well as helping each other, we have a real laugh.

I look forward to seeing everyone, and we keep in touch in between on the group’s Facebook page.

So, my advice to anyone else who may be finding it difficult or thinking they can go it alone? Don’t give up! Group is an essential part of my life now. I make sure I can get there every week and I’ll never allow myself to trail off again. I’ve seen what a difference being a healthy weight has made to my life. This time, there’s no going back… 

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.