Killingworth to Newcastle town centre, June 2011, 19st 3lbs

I pushed down my foot on the pedal of my bike and slowly set off to work. Already I was starting to pant and I hadn’t even got to the end of the road. Part of me wanted to get off and take the car to work like I usually did. All the while, though, my doctor’s words were ringing in my head: losing weight could help to avoid complications with your type 2 diabetes. I told myself that I loved food too much to go on a diet – it’d have to be exercise instead.

As the months passed, my cycle to work got easier, though I didn’t seem to be getting any slimmer. I decided to join a cycling club, which organised regular 25- and 50-mile rides through the Northumberland countryside.

Land’s End to John o’Groats, June 2014, 19st 8lbs

‘Well done, Karl!’ I heard my wife, Sheila, say as I finished a 10-day cycle, covering over 100 miles a day. I felt euphoric to have completed it. After the event, I weighed myself and I’d only lost 7lbs. It seemed unbelievable. I’d cycled the length of the country – 1,000 miles. How could I have only lost 7lbs?

That’s when it dawned on me that exercise alone wasn’t going to shift my weight. I’d have to change the way I ate. One of the lads at work had lost weight with Slimming World and, although I didn’t think it would be for me, my mind kept coming back to it...

Newcastle town centre to Killingworth, January 2016, 23st 2lbs

I arrived home from work on my bike, then got straight in the car – and soon pulled up at Rachel’s group in Killingworth. I took a deep breath, not knowing what to expect, and walked in. With Food Optimising, Rachel explained, you don’t need to cut anything out. I felt so empowered that even when the scales showed my weight had gone up to 23st 2lbs, I wasn’t deterred. I went shopping, and then cooked one of my usual dinners, spaghetti bolognese, just cooked differently using lean minced beef and low-calorie cooking spray instead of oil.

In my first week I lost 7½lbs! I’d lost the same amount in seven days with Slimming World as I had when I’d cycled around all the way from Land’s End to John o’Groats. I couldn’t believe it!

The Ryals cycle route, May 2016, 18st 1½lbs

I couldn’t wait to go to group each week. We were like a little family, sharing tips, recipes and snack ideas. Cycling was getting easier, too. I’d had 13 previous attempts at riding over The Ryals – a set of hills in Northumberland – and had never managed to complete it all in one go. This time I wasn’t going to fail. It was still an effort, but before I knew it I was gliding down the final descent with a smile on my face.

Coast-to-coast cycle, summer 2016, 16st 8lbs

One by one I ticked off the cycle rides – and hills – that had previously defeated me. That included the Hartside Pass on the Whitehaven-to-Tynemouth coast-to-coast challenge – my particular nemesis!

I reached my 15st target weight 10 months after joining group. Sheila is so proud of me for taking control of my health – and she has lost 4st, too, just by eating Food Optimising meals at home. As for the cycling, I’m conquering ever-steeper climbs. Whenever I scale a new peak on my bike, I feel I can achieve anything!

Karl’s day on a plate


Breakfast Two bacon and sausage sandwiches and a mug of tea.

Snacks Four takeaway sausage rolls.

Lunch Reheated leftover pasta in a creamy sauce from the night before.

Dinner Spaghetti bolognese with lots of grated cheese, or a Chinese or Indian takeaway, plus rhubarb crumble for dessert.


Breakfast Overnight oats made with Healthy Extra porridge oats, fat-free natural yogurt and berries.

Snacks Apple or orange.

Lunch Reheated leftover Slimming World spaghetti Bolognese or curry from the night before.

Dinner Barbecue chicken with butternut squash mash and veg, or bacon burger with sweet potato chips and salad.

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