Lockdown wasn’t very kind to my waistline... between March 2020 and January 2022, I put on more than 7st. I was able to work from home, and it meant my lifestyle became very sedentary. On top of that, I was eating lots of takeaways, large shop-bought pizzas and lasagne ready meals with garlic bread.
I’d always been a fairly active father to my daughter, Emily, and one of the things we loved doing together was scaling the climbing wall at our local sports centre. As my weight rose, though, I found it harder and harder to keep up with her.
My clothes were getting tighter, too, which made me feel self-conscious. Eventually, I only had one top that fully covered my stomach when I had the climbing equipment on, and if that top happened to be in the wash, I wouldn’t go. It wasn’t long before Emily noticed that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about climbing as I used to be. When she suggested staying home and playing a video game instead one day, it broke my heart.
We were as close as ever, but I didn’t feel like the all-action ‘Superdad’ Emily had grown up with any more. I knew I wanted to lose weight, and at first, I thought exercise alone would do the trick. I used to be a pretty good runner, so I pulled on my trainers and headed outside. What I hadn’t thought about was how different running would feel at 20st. After a gruelling 10K, I collapsed on the sofa, scarlet in the face, wheezing and feeling more exhausted than I could ever remember.
It was torture, but I reminded myself that I was doing it for Emily. So the next day, I put myself through the same punishing run. I carried on like that for four months, and although I did lose a little bit of weight, it wasn’t coming off at anywhere near the speed that I’d put it on.
Seeing how defeated I was, my wife Sam suggested we join Slimming World together. I made some non-committal noises, then went online to find out what Slimming World was all about – and my scepticism immediately kicked in. The website said you could eat as much Free Food as you liked, and I just didn’t believe you could lose weight that way. Sam wouldn’t take no for an answer, though, and I didn’t have a better solution. Exercise hadn’t worked on its own, so I clearly needed to try something else.
Slimming World members have access to more than 900 delicious Free Food recipes on the app and website. Discover five of the most popular ones here.
Support squad, assemble!
With no one available to look after Emily, we were grateful that we could take her with us to group. The Consultant, Rachael, talked us through how the plan worked and explained the science behind it, and any concerns I had quickly faded. The atmosphere was buzzy and encouraging, and as the other members shared ideas and received personalised support, I started to feel fired up and keen to get cracking. My private weigh-in was the only low point of the night: I was 20st 8lbs – bigger than I’d ever been before.
During that first week, back in May 2022, Sam and I flicked through the recipe ideas in the member pack and made a tasty chilli and a gorgeous chicken and leek pasta dish. Incredibly, when I returned to group a week later, I’d lost a stone! Emily proudly stuck my 1st award sticker on the back of my weighing-in book for me. Then the following week, I lost another 9lbs.
Alongside an effective eating plan, I now had a support squad of people helping me to stay on track, and as the weeks went by, I started really looking forward to seeing my new friends in group. I got lots of inspiration from the regular taster sessions, and Rachael had some brilliant meal suggestions that we recreated at home. Emily got particularly excited whenever I made a new low-Syn dessert – her favourite recipe was the cinnamon swirls one, and we loved making them together nearly as much as we enjoyed eating them!
Conquering the climbing wall
As my weight steadily dropped, my clothes got looser and my running times got quicker. When I first started doing those lung-bursting 10k runs, it would take me over an hour; these days, I can do the same distance in just 45 minutes.
The most amazing thing about my weight loss is how it’s transformed my family life. Now that I have more energy, Emily and I have been neglecting the games console. Instead, I perch her on my back to play horses, or let her try out the karate moves she’s learnt at her weekly class on me – sometimes with quite painful results!
Best of all, I can keep up with Emily on the climbing wall. I know that, in her eyes, I’ve always been Superdad – and these days, I feel like I’m living up to that title and being the father I really want to be.
Support to get active, your way
When you join Slimming World, you’ll unlock our full get-fit tool kit, which includes:
• more than 90 on-demand activity videos, with workouts for every ability
• easy-to-follow exercise guides and activity ideas
• an online activity tracker, so you can chart your progress towards your next Body Magic award
• the FIT log tool, to help you identify any barriers and put strategies in place
• exclusive fitness-themed podcast episodes
Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
If you’re planning to start a new exercise programme, we recommend that you check with your GP first – especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma. If you’re pregnant, check the suitability of the exercise with your midwife.