In October 2021, I joined Slimming World weighing 19st 9lbs. Three days before, I’d tried on the best man’s suit that I’d bought before the pandemic for a friend’s wedding. As I pulled the trousers on, I realised they didn’t fit... I had to get the suit altered to be two sizes bigger. I was mortified and that’s when I knew I needed to do something about my weight.

Feeling isolated

It wasn’t just my choice of clothes that was affected by my size – I was concerned about my health, too. I was on medication for chronic gout and could barely walk because of the pain.

I also struggled with crippling anxiety and was full of self-doubt. I worked from home in recruitment, and I tried my best to appear confident and positive in meetings on screen. Inside, though, I was nervous and I always felt that people were judging me.

When I confessed to a couple of friends how unhappy I was, they were really supportive. They’d both lost weight with Slimming World and they encouraged me to give it a go.

The thought of joining was terrifying, but I needn’t have worried. The Consultant, Lorna, was so reassuring and as she explained how Food Optimising worked, it sounded really simple to follow. I couldn’t believe I could eat chicken, rice and pasta freely, without any weighing, measuring or counting!

The power of support

As I sat down and listened to the other members talking in group, I realised I wasn’t alone. There’s something really special about being in a space together like that, where everyone feels safe enough to talk about their habits and temptations – it makes you feel so connected.

That first week, I tried to prove the eating plan wrong by eating as much pasta as I possibly could, so I was amazed to discover I’d lost 11lbs at my next weigh-in! The reaction from the rest of the group was so lovely. Losing weight suddenly felt doable, and I wanted to succeed for them as much as for myself.

I feel such a part of my slimming community now. My group’s amazing – I’m not sure I’ve ever met a more supportive bunch of people. I was having a tough time a few weeks ago, and one of the members drove to my house to deliver some home-made Slimming World muffins! I’m constantly blown away by their kindness. I’ve made firm friends and I get genuinely excited about going along each week. I was surprised at how many people were a similar age to me, as well, and I’ve been really pleased to see more men join recently.

Growing in confidence

If I think back to the way I used to eat before joining Slimming World, it was pretty much all processed food and takeaways. Now I make healthier versions of the food I ate before, like a full English with lean bacon medallions and scrambled eggs cooked using low-calorie cooking spray instead of oil. I also love a Slimming World fakeaway – my favourite’s chicken tikka masala. I never feel hungry or that I’m missing out.

Losing 5st has definitely improved my health, which was my original goal. But it’s changed my life in so many other ways, too. I have more self-respect, and I look after myself by eating in a way that fuels and nourishes me and gives me more energy. I make time for long walks and I cook from scratch a lot more. It’s even fixed my loud snoring – apparently I’m now eerily quiet when I’m asleep! When I joined Slimming World, I had no idea I’d gain all these extra benefits and a fully-formed support network. It really has been a life-changing experience. 

Joe’s day on a plate

Before

After

Breakfast

Bacon and sausage sandwich on white bread with lots of butter and ketchup, or a greasy fry-up at weekends.

Baked beans, scrambled egg and bacon medallions on my Healthy Extra ‘b’ wholemeal toast.

Lunch

King-size instant noodle pot and crisps.

A lunch pot from Slimming World’s food range (available from Iceland) with extra steamed vegetables.

Dinner

A ready meal, or a takeaway from the Chinese, Indian or kebab shop.

Diet cola chicken with lots of Speed veg or salad.

Snacks

Crisps, bars of chocolate, sweets.

A small bag of crisps, a Freddo bar or a pot of low-fat yogurt.

Drinks

Sugary tea, cola and energy drinks.

Water and the occasional vodka and diet cola.

As the weight came off, I gradually got fitter. I started thinking nothing of doing a two-and-a-half-hour walk, breathing in the fresh air and losing myself in my favourite podcasts. As well as recipe inspiration, the Slimming World Podcast is full of tips on everything from staying motivated to eating out. I always come away with a new idea to try! 

Listen to the Slimming World Podcast here

MORE FOR MEMBERS: Find our member exclusive podcasts here