Josh lost 8st 1½lbs in 11 months with Slimming World. Read on to discover:
the alcohol swap that helped him cut down on drinking
how he upped his activity levels from day one
the advice from his Consultant that made all the difference
I’d always struggled with my weight, but getting a new job was the point when it started really spiralling out of control. Working in customer services meant that I was sitting down for most of the day – and I was also eating cakes and pastries at my desk. Breaking my ankle at the office Christmas party was the final straw. Off my feet and feeling fed up, I ate to relieve the boredom. I fell into a cycle of ordering takeaways and drinking too much lager, and my weight just went up and up. Feeling rubbish about everything, I sank into the lowest mood I’d ever known.
In September 2021, my girlfriend Molly and I were invited to a wedding and we had a great time. When I saw the photos afterwards, though, I didn’t recognise the man standing next to Molly, with his waistcoat straining at the buttons. Realising it was me was like a punch to the stomach – I felt physically sick.
Feeling drained and hopeless, I made an appointment at my doctor’s surgery, and came away with a prescription to help with my mood. I knew that I also needed to find a way to lose weight – I just wasn’t sure how. Molly suggested that we both join a Slimming World group, so we’d be able to support each other.
On 5th January 2022, I joined group. Although everyone was friendly, I didn’t say a word during IMAGE Therapy – that’s the bit where members share their experiences and, with the help of the Consultant, make plans for the week ahead. When my Consultant, Rebecca, took me aside for my first weigh-in, seeing ‘20st 7lbs’ flash up on the scales gave me such a shock. That meant I’d put on about 6st in just 18 months… All I could think was: ‘How long is it going to take to get it off again?’
After hearing about Body Magic, Slimming World’s activity programme, Molly and I agreed that we wanted to start getting more active straight away, to feel the benefits from the earliest possible stage of our weight loss. Knowing that we could take it at our own pace, doing workouts that suited us, helped us to feel in control – but while Molly decided to start running, I struggled to think of anything that I might actually enjoy.
After a bit of searching online, I spotted some local tennis lessons for beginners. Something about it appealed to me, so with a bit of encouragement from Molly, I made it to my first session. Sure, I was the biggest person there, but it didn’t seem to matter to anyone else, and I soon realised it didn’t matter to me either.
READ MORE: Give tennis a go with our beginner’s guide
By then, I’d lost almost a stone. As well as learning so much from Rebecca and the other members, I’d started to share how my weeks had been going, too. In IMAGE Therapy, we talked about how helpful planning was for staying on track. Molly and I would choose our meals for the week ahead and shop for just what we needed, often batch cooking so that we had dinners ready to heat up when we came in from work. The more Food Optimising recipes we tried, the more I knew I could keep it up until that 6st disappeared.
At the same time as I was discovering just how much I could eat while losing weight, I was having a very different realisation about alcohol. Since lockdown, I’d been in the habit of buying four cans of lager every day and cracking them open after work. When I looked up my favourite brand on the Slimming World members’ app, it became clear that my daily beers had really contributed to my weight gain. Although you can still have beer on the Slimming World plan, I decided I wanted to break that habit and found that a rum and diet cola was much more slimming-friendly. It became my go-to drink on a night out and I didn’t miss my evening beers at all. In fact, I enjoyed sleeping better and waking up in the morning with a clear head and more positive attitude.
One of Rebecca’s favourite sayings was: ‘If you have one bad flower, you don’t throw away the whole bunch.’ What she meant was that if you have a bad day, it doesn’t mean your entire week has to go the same way. It didn’t take long before I was putting her advice into practice, after a big blow-out at an Indian restaurant. I felt so disappointed in myself, knowing that I could have chosen differently from the menu and stayed on track – but I remembered Rebecca’s words and was back on plan the very next day.
It took me seven months to erase that 6st, and 11 months to reach my target loss of 8st. My tennis coach couldn’t believe the transformation and said I looked like a completely different person! Molly had also done brilliantly well, losing 4st.
The life we live together now is almost unrecognisable from before. I’m medication-free and feeling great, and my tennis game just gets better and better! We also love to go on long walks in the Norfolk countryside, which I’m sure has helped my mental health.
We both feel that we have so much to look forward to, and we’re planning on tying the knot in the not-too-distant future. When that day comes, one thing is certain: I know I’ll be standing in front of the camera feeling and looking so much happier than that stranger in the waistcoat.
*Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
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