Puffing and panting as I finally reached the temple I’d trekked to, my heart sank as I saw the number of steps that led to the top. So far, my size had made the trip to see my brother in China a real struggle. The 20-hour flight had been unbearably uncomfortable: from cringing as I asked for a seatbelt extension, to only just squeezing into my seat (and spilling over into my dad’s seat), and eating my meals at an angle because the tray table wouldn’t lay flat over my stomach. 

Now, as I stood at the temple’s base waiting for my dad and brother, a crowd of locals gathered to take pictures of me and ask for my autograph – I’d become the star attraction, as they rarely saw anyone my size. I had literally stopped traffic (and caused an accident) as people stared in disbelief. 

At 27st, life was hard – I couldn’t walk for more than five minutes, and my physically demanding job as a carer for the elderly really took its toll on me. I couldn’t even roll myself over in bed.

My get up and go had got up and gone.

 

I’d tried losing weight in the past, once even managing to lose 5st through a weight loss programme suggested by my GP. As soon as it finished and the support had gone, though, I regained everything I’d lost. 

I noticed a pattern: without group support, the weight would go straight back on.

My dad and sister had been going to a Slimming World group for years and had asked me to join them loads of times. Eventually I gave in and said I’d go, secretly thinking I’d show them that I just couldn’t lose weight and keep it off. As I listened to the new-member talk from my Consultant, Christine, I still thought it all sounded too good to be true. Even so, I went away and followed Food Optimising 100% – and was stunned to find I’d lost 10½lbs in my first week. I was hooked!  

Healthy recipes for my healthy appetite

Food is a great passion of mine – I’d originally wanted to become a chef. I knew that if Food Optimising wasn’t tasty or interesting, I’d get bored and not stick to it. Luckily, the recipes are out of this world. My dad and I take turns to cook tasty meals like beef curry and Cajun chicken pasta. The only limit to Food Optimising is your imagination!

We used to eat out and have takeaways all the time before I started my journey. Now I much prefer our home-cooked healthy recipes – but if we do go out, Slimming World has given me the knowledge to make Food Optimising-friendly choices.

As the weight began to come off, I slowly introduced Body Magic into my routine, and now it’s a huge part of my life. I run every day, do weights three times a week and yoga in the mornings. I’ll walk instead of using the car and love Fitbit walking challenges. I always used to wonder why people ran, but I totally get it now! 

Before, I couldn’t walk for five minutes – now I’ve run my first half-marathon.

Since losing weight, my blood pressure has gone from 148/104 to 122/70, my BMI has dropped from 58.6 to 25.6 and my sleep apnoea has disappeared. I took indigestion medication for 15 years and now I don’t need it. I feel so much healthier, happier and more positive.

An exciting new path

Because of my lack of confidence, I’d never really had a girlfriend and thought I’d become ‘undateable’. As I began to lose weight, I plucked up the courage to chat to a lovely lady from my group, called Karen. We started socialising outside of group, going for walks and cooking healthy recipes together, and eventually confessed our feelings for each other over a roast chicken dinner (Food Optimising-style, of course!). We’re about to move in together and hopefully we’ll get married one day – another reason I’ll always be grateful to Slimming World. 

I’ve found love, when I’d thought it would never happen.

The best thing is that I have a love for life I’ve never had before. I’ve always been a day-dreamer, but it stopped at just that. Now I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to.

Ben’s day on a plate

Before
Breakfast: Two rounds of bacon, sausage and egg sandwiches.
Lunch: Fish, chips, peas and gravy. 
Dinner: Spag bol or pizza. I’d also have four meals to myself from the Chinese every Friday. 
Snacks: Sausage rolls, crisps, pork pie – you name it, I’d eat it. And sugary fizzy drinks through the day, then two bottles of wine in the evening. 

After 
Breakfast: Fruit, yogurt and two Hi-fi bars. 
Lunch: Tuna and sweetcorn jacket potato with a huge salad. 
Dinner: Home-cooked Slimming World meals – favourite healthy recipes, like chicken curry.  
Snacks: Fruit throughout the day.

Five healthy recipes to try tonight

As Ben discovered, healthy recipes can be tasty and interesting – Food Optimising should definitely never be boring! Here are five healthy recipes to surprise your taste buds:

 

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