I hit emotional rock bottom at my nephew’s wedding. It was a joyful occasion, but I’d felt like everyone was commenting on my size and – worst of all – patting my stomach. I hated seeing the pictures of myself afterwards, and decided I had to do something about my 20st-plus weight. My sister was a Slimming World member and had spent the wedding weekend extolling its virtues – she was obviously worried about my health. So I decided to join.

Growing up

I hadn't always been big – in fact, I was sometimes called the ‘runt’ of the family when I was younger. I was born with back problems and always felt self-conscious about the way I walked and ran. As I grew older I feared I’d be ridiculed if I went to a gym, and developed a bit of a phobia of exercise.

I put on weight while I was at university – but because I’d always felt small and weak, rather than feel alarmed, I actually felt bigger and stronger.

I found Food Optimising really straightforward to follow – three months in, I'd lost more than 4st and decided I needed to tackle my fear of exercise. I knew getting into the habit of walking regularly would make me much fitter in the long run. At first I couldn't even manage 20 minutes. Within five months, though, I was off on four-hour hikes! Since then I've joined a gym and started working with a personal trainer and a physiotherapist to address the remaining postural isues that still affect me.

Getting to target

I reached my target in eight months – setting small, achievable goals of 7lbs at a time really helped me stay motivated. I'd enjoyed winning Slimmer of the Week awards at group, and when I was voted Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2016 I was thrilled. Although I’m still surprised when people ask me for advice or describe me as an inspiration, it’s a good feeling to be able to help others.

As well as losing 8st, I've shed 12ins from both my chest and waist. It's fantastic not having to wear ‘old-man clothes’ with elasticated waists any more.

Perhaps the greatest result of my weight loss is the way it’s lifted my self-esteem and self-worth.

While Slimming World gives you a great education and great support, you’re responsible for the choices you make each day. That’s really empowering. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come – and my family are proud, too, especially my sister.

In my 40s, I'm finally able to face the future with confidence. I have a job I love, I respect my body and I'm now the man I was always meant to be.

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