I’d struggled with my weight as a child – then, when I was 22, my father died, and I turned to comfort eating even more. I’d have a relatively healthy breakfast and lunch, but then my evenings would be full of high-calorie snacks like crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
My weight led me to develop cellulitis after getting a blister on my foot – and the pain was a constant reminder of the damage I was doing to my health. I was also involved in a car accident that hurt my shoulder. I needed an MRI scan, but I was too big for the machine, so I had to live with the pain for years afterwards.
Outside of work, I’m a regional-level field athletics official, and I know that there were conversations about my ability to do the physical part of the role. I noticed I was starting to be given ‘gentle duties’. That’s when I knew I had to make a change.
The first step...
Initially I felt a little daunted by the idea of joining a Slimming World group. I worried that I might be the only chap there or that I’d be judged for being the biggest in the room. At 38st, I even wondered if the scales there would be able to weigh me – the last time I’d tried to weigh myself at my local pharmacy, they couldn’t take my weight.
I soon realised that I was exactly where I needed to be, though. My group was so welcoming, and although it was a shock to see my weight, I really felt like I could take control of it this time. I’d been a member of Slimming World before, but for whatever reason I just couldn’t get my head in the game then. When I joined the Oakway group, something just clicked. The support of other people who were on the same journey as me was incredible and I soon made lots of new friends.
I quickly got to grips with the Food Optimising eating plan, switching my usual diet of takeaways and convenience foods for healthier home-made meals. I started off with simple Slimming World recipes and then realised that I could make my favourite meals – like a chicken biryani – the Slimming World way and still lose weight.
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I loved that I didn’t have to go hungry – I don’t think an extreme diet where I had to cut out lots of foods would have worked for me, and this was nothing like that. Food Optimising really changed the way I thought about food. Instead of snacking all evening, I was filling up on three balanced meals a day.
Understanding my triggers around food helped me to feel more in control – I associated certain foods with bingeing, so I shopped more carefully and avoided those foods that could so easily send me off track. Getting to know myself as a slimmer was really key to my weight loss success.
I’ve always been quite active, but before I lost weight I’d often pay the price after any kind of activity and end up in a lot of pain. Learning about Slimming World’s Body Magic activity programme – and listening to the other group members talk about what they did – helped me feel less overwhelmed by the idea of regular gentle exercise, and I broke down increasing my activity levels into small steps.
I found I enjoyed swimming because it didn’t put pressure on my joints, and I took it at my own pace and built up my distance gradually. Now I swim 120 lengths six days a week and love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards – it’s a great way to start the day.
As my confidence grew, I started using the Couch to 5K app. It had always been a goal of mine to run a 5K race. Eventually I worked my way through the app and since then I’ve completed 10 Parkrun events. I started out walking, with a time of 56 minutes 6 seconds in 2021, and now my personal best is 39 minutes 15 seconds. I feel ready to enter a 10K race! It’s a world away from the life I used to lead.
There’s a different kind of ambition that I’m also planning to fulfil – my first-ever birthday party! My family lived in London when I was young and as a summer baby it was always hard to get everyone together for a celebration. Then, as I grew older, there was nothing I wanted less than a big fuss, so I never had a traditional birthday party. Now I’m ready to celebrate my 50th birthday, at half the size I used to be! The theme of the party is ‘Half the century, for half the man’.
My friends and family no longer worry about my future, although I do have a new problem – they often don’t recognise me! I’ve had a few people walk past me in the street because I look so different now.
I still have a little more to lose to reach my target weight, although I already feel so much better and more positive about the future. My mindset has changed completely. For the first time in a while, I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life. Now that I’ll comfortably fit into a plane seat, I have plans to travel abroad – the world is my oyster!
Will 2023 be the year that you change your life? Whatever you have on your wish list, we can help you make your dreams come true. Discover our two great ways to lose weight here.
Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.