John Durkin, 52

Starting weight

21st 8lbs

Weight now

10st 11lbs

Weight lost

10st 11lbs


5ft 6½ins

Tackling slimming together helped Jo Beveridge to lose 6st 6lbs and John Durkin to lose 10st 11lbs – half his body weight! Read on to discover: 

  • their simple swaps for a slimming-friendly social life

  • the deep-thinking in group that helped them take control  

  • how John built up to his first marathon at 52! 

On discovering Slimming World – and that they could still enjoy their weekend trips to the pub...

Jo says: ‘If I’m honest with myself, I’d been unhappy with my weight since our first son, Alex, was born. When Liam arrived a few years later, it became even more difficult to find the time to eat healthily. I’d try to lose weight before a big event or holiday, but it would be a quick fix, and I always ended up back where I’d started as soon as I was eating “normally” again.  

During lockdown, John and I sought comfort in food – having a takeaway or indulgent meal was often all we had to look forward to! It meant we developed some pretty unhealthy habits, though, which then proved hard to shake. At 17st 6lbs, I knew I needed to take control of my eating and John felt the same. So when our daughter-in-law, Jodie, joined Slimming World and started raving about all the delicious food she could eat and how supportive her group was, we decided to give it a go. 

Pre-pandemic, our weekends would usually involve a trip to the pub, with a takeaway afterwards, so we were a bit worried we wouldn’t be able to enjoy that aspect of our lives any more. However, we quickly realised that, by making a few simple swaps, there was no need to miss out. Instead of beer and wine, we ordered spirits with low-calorie mixers, and alternated alcoholic drinks with soft ones. We also started experimenting with Food Optimising fakeaway curries, cooking them from scratch. We particularly loved the onion bhaji recipe – it’s now a firm favourite in our house!’ 

On what makes Slimming World different to weight loss methods they’d tried in the past... 

John says: ‘The Slimming World plan is a no-nonsense, common-sense way of eating – a world away from the crash diets we’d gone on before. It’s changed the way we think about food. We plan our dinners now and eat three balanced meals a day, which helps us to stay on track. We often batch cook, too, so if we don’t fancy cooking or are short on time, there’s usually something tasty and satisfying in the freezer.  

The group support is great. I was a bit nervous at the thought of joining and wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was worried I might be the only man or that, at 21st 8lbs, I’d be judged for being the biggest person there. It wasn’t like that at all, though – everyone was so friendly and welcoming, especially our Consultant, Sophie. We left our first group feeling like we could really do it this time. So many of the other members had told us about how much they’d lost and how easy it was, we felt sure they couldn’t all be wrong! 

Slimming World has been the missing piece of the puzzle. We’ve learned so much about how best to fuel our bodies, and the IMAGE Therapy sessions in group really opened our eyes to possible triggers and danger zones – like reaching for quick fixes when we were busy or tired after work, or snacking in front of the TV when we weren’t really hungry. After a few weeks, we started to understand who we were as slimmers. Once we’d nailed that, everything else fell into place.’ 

On getting more active with Slimming World’s Body Magic programme... 

John says: ‘Jo and I had always been quite active – I enjoyed cycling and Jo had been a member of a gym. We’d done Parkruns together, too, but it wasn’t until the weight started coming off that I properly caught the running bug! It just felt a lot easier, and my recovery time was much faster. I soon progressed from 5K to 10K, then a half-marathon... and this April, I ran my first full marathon. I still can’t quite believe that I’ve halved my body weight and run more than 26 miles! I think the best thing about a Body Magic journey is that it’s broken down into small, achievable goals, so it never feels overwhelming. There really is an activity for everyone, and we have people at all levels in our Slimming World group.  

I’m proud that I’ve run a marathon, but I’m even prouder of the type of grandparents we’ve become. When we joined Slimming World, our first grandchild, Abel, had just arrived, and knew we wanted to be fit and healthy enough to be fun, involved grandparents. He really gave us that extra push to lose weight for good. He’s since been joined by our granddaughter, Etta, and running around with them is the best exercise!’  

On what’s next... 

Jo says: ‘We’ve been together for 30 years, and we’d hoped to get married before lockdown, but we put our plans on hold because we wanted a big party. So, there might be wedding bells soon!’ 

Jo and John’s day on a plate




Buttery toast, a fast food breakfast or no breakfast at all.

Healthy Extra ‘b’ cereal and skimmed milk.  


Usually a supermarket meal deal (sandwich, crisps and a sugary drink). 

A tuna and rice salad or a jacket potato with baked beans


Chicken curry made using a jar of ready-made sauce, or crusty bread sandwiches with crisps and a chocolate bar. 

We love trying out new recipes from Slimming World’s cookbooks. Although chicken tikka masala with home-made bhajis is a bit of a go-to! 


Crisps, chocolate, biscuits or cake. 

Slimming World Hi-fi bars, fresh fruit or flavoured fat-free yogurts. 

Watch Jo and John tell their story

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