Puffing and panting, I sat down for my lunch break, glad to be off my feet for a while. My painting and decorating business kept me active, but at 21½st it was hard work, and I’d get lots of stick about my size whenever I worked alongside other tradesmen.

I’d started putting on weight in my late teens and it continued into my adult life, leading to dangerously high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I’d tried meal-replacement shakes to lose weight, but the lack of food made me so hungry I couldn’t keep it up.

On a typical day I’d have a couple of chocolate bars and crisps for breakfast, a pre-packed sandwich and crisps or a takeaway for lunch, and pizza with chips, onion rings and fizzy drinks in the evening. After work I’d sink into the sofa and not move for the rest of the evening; I just had no energy.

It was the birth of my son, Freddie, that really made me want to change the quality of my life. I wanted to be able to keep up with him, chase him around and take him to the park.

Joining a group

I’d heard about Slimming World and liked the idea that I could still eat big portions. My partner, Charlie, said that she wanted to lose weight, too, so we decided to join together. Jane, my Consultant, was very welcoming – and when she explained Food Optimising it sounded right up my street!

Back home I set about filling up on Free Food, enjoying lean bacon, baked beans and egg on wholemeal toast for breakfast or last night’s leftovers for lunch, and in the evening I’d tuck into home-made spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne and rice, or steak with Slimming World chips and salad.

Food Optimising taught us how to cook meals from scratch and I loved it! Best of all, we eat together as a family and that’s really important to us. We still eat out as a family, too, switching to healthy alternatives like butterfly chicken, rice or jacket potato and corn on the cob.

I realise that men can be put off going to group because they see it as a ‘women’s thing’. I’d say to any man considering joining to just do it – you’ll receive a warm welcome and the results speak for themselves.

Since losing weight I’ve had the confidence to go to the gym and to spinning and circuit training, which has really helped tone up my body. My ambition is to run in a competitive race, which two years ago would never have been achievable.

Now I have normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and have been taken off my medication. My consultant was speechless when he saw me at my annual check-up – he couldn't believe how much weight I’d lost. It really made me realise how much I’ve achieved and how losing weight has improved my health and quality of life.

I can’t imagine being a bigger dad now, either – I love being able to run around after Freddie at the park and clamber up and down the climbing frame with him. I have the energy to be an active dad, and it’s wonderful.

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