As I walked down the street, I suddenly started to feel unwell. I’d woken up with a terrible pain in my calf, which I’d initially shrugged off as cramp. Now, I began to sense something was very wrong. It felt like something was crawling up my left leg, and the next thing I knew, I was gripping hold of a lamp post and holding on to some ivy on a wall to stop myself falling. Two men rushed to help me and frantically called for an ambulance.
I lost consciousness during the journey to the hospital, and when I came to, I found myself in an intensive care ward. The doctor told me that I’d experienced a deep vein thrombosis, which had developed into a pulmonary embolism and caused my heart to go into cardiac arrest. Thanks to the paramedic’s quick action, I survived the ordeal, but my heart had stopped for 10 minutes and it took me a year to recover fully.
It wasn’t the 39th anniversary I’d promised my wife, Jeanette, and I knew my failing health was at least in part down to my size. I’d put on weight steadily since retiring from active police service and, during my recovery, the pounds had continued to creep on. Soon, I weighed over 23st and my clothes were starting to feel uncomfortably tight.
Time to change
Things finally came to a head when Jeanette and I went to a family wedding in Scotland. It was a fantastic occasion, filled with joy and laughter, but I felt incredibly self-conscious squeezed into my 44in trousers. Convinced I looked a mess, I was too embarrassed to talk to any of the guests at the reception.
Afterwards, Jeanette and I headed off on a tour of the Scottish countryside. As she bounded up every hill we came across, I had to keep stopping to catch my breath. Having always prided myself on being a fit police officer, it was a shock to realise that the slopes were too much for me. We ended up not seeing half of the sights we’d planned to because I was just physically unable to get to them.
That’s when I knew something had to change.
As soon as we got home, I searched online and found a Slimming World group running in a nearby village and, with Jeanette’s encouragement, I went along to join. Although I was nervous walking through the doors of the village hall, I soon realised I had nothing to worry about. The Consultant, Angie, and the other members were very welcoming and helped to put me at ease.
I found that I really enjoyed listening to the discussions that happened during IMAGE Therapy. It was great to get ideas on how to shop and which new foods to look out for on the shelves. I always came away with a handful of new recipe ideas that I couldn’t wait to try, too.
Back home, I was surprised at the wide range of food I could eat. I’d start my day with a bacon sandwich, using wholemeal bread as my Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice and cutting the fat off my rashers to make them Free. For lunch, I’d make a tuna salad, and dinner was often my favourite Slimming World recipe – chilli con carne with brown rice
Within months, my clothes were feeling looser and I realised I wasn’t getting as breathless when I moved around. I started to walk everywhere I could and made the most of living in the countryside and near the sea by exploring lots of new places. I also started enjoying my old pastimes again, getting busy in the garden and tinkering with my cars in the garage.
Slimming down has given me a renewed sense of confidence, vigour and a zest for life.
Now, I’m fully retired, fit and healthy and doing things I could only have dreamed of just a year ago. I can’t wait to take Jeanette back to Scotland so we can visit all the sights we missed out on the first time. And I’ve got a brand-new, slim-fit suit hanging in the wardrobe, just waiting for an occasion to show it off! I’m still losing weight and I’m currently just 5lbs from target, which I’m hoping to hit in the next few weeks. I feel like I’ve been given another chance at life – and I’m determined to live it to the fullest.
Watch Ken tell his story
Ken’s day on a plate
Big fried breakfast with white toast and butter.
Lean bacon medallions in a wholemeal roll and two boiled eggs.
A fast-food burger or Southern-fried chicken pieces with fries, and cola to drink.
A lean ham or tuna salad with lots of Speed Free Food and pickled onions, diet cola.
Deep-fried fish and chips with gravy or curry sauce.
A Food Optimised chilli con carne, plain boiled brown rice and salad.
A sausage roll, pasty or steak slice, crisps and peanuts.
Fruit, Hi-fi bars.