I’d battled with my weight since childhood, and after I met my wife, Amanda, we settled into a routine of enjoying indulgent meals and cosy takeaways together, which meant my weight continued to climb. Life as an overweight person became a daily struggle.

Going on holiday to Turkey with friends, I was too embarrassed to ask for a seatbelt extender, so I spent the whole flight feeling squashed and uncomfortable, especially when the in-flight meal arrived – I could barely get the table down over my stomach.

I’d try to lose weight by upping my exercise – it helped me get fitter, yet my weight wasn’t dropping very much because I hadn’t changed my eating habits. If I did lose some weight, I found it really hard to keep it off.

The turning point

It had got to the stage where I was almost used to people making comments about my size. But when an email went around at work calling me the ‘fat and ugly bloke’, I was devastated. I wasn’t supposed to receive it, but that didn’t matter – my self-worth was completely destroyed and I just couldn’t shake it off.

The final straw came when Amanda and I went to buy a new family car and we had a photo taken at the garage to celebrate. When I saw it, my heart sank. I could see I was almost back at my biggest, despite the exercise. Deep down I knew that if I really wanted to lose weight, I had to look at what I was eating. Amanda had recently given birth to Elowen and was joining her local Slimming World group to lose some baby weight, so I decided to bite the bullet and go along with her.

I was worried I’d be the only man there and would feel out of place, yet everyone was so welcoming. It really helped me to hit the ground running. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could still enjoy my favourite meals – they just had to be prepared and cooked in a different way. I could still enjoy a bacon sandwich for breakfast, I just needed to trim the fat off my meat and cook it without oil, and switch to wholemeal bread.

Joining a group made everything click for me – and that was partly because of the other members. They were so supportive.

As I got fitter, I noticed a big change in one of my hobbies. I’ve always had a keen interest in American football – it was a sport I could play even at my biggest. Back then, I formed part of the offensive line as I was a big bloke… now I’m too slim for that position! I’ve switched roles to a more attacking position which sees me move around and affect the play a lot more, and I absolutely love it. Nowadays, running is much easier too, and I’ve completed several half-marathons in under two hours.

Life is good

The most important change for me has been in my family life. I wanted to support Amanda on her Slimming World journey (she’s lost 3st 6½lbs!), and I also wanted to be the best possible father to my kids. I was becoming the kind of dad who was tired all the time or was too out of breath to play with them, and that wasn’t who I wanted to be. Now I’ve got lots of energy to keep up with my three wonderful children, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I really understood just how far I’d come when I got on a plane again. We were flying to Spain, and this time around it was such a different experience. I had plenty of room, my knees didn’t dig into the seat in front and I could pull the table down with ease! I feel like a totally different person – full of confidence and ready to take on whatever life throws at me.

Ross’s day on a plate

Breakfast: Bacon sandwich on white buttered bread with ketchup.
Snack: Chocolate bar or bag of crisps.
Lunch: Triple-layer sandwich with crisps, chocolate, fizzy drink and a doughnut or two.
Dinner: Chicken tikka masala made with a sauce from a jar and served with a garlic naan bread.
Snacks: Doughnuts, biscuits, cookies, share-size bag of crisps.

Breakfast: ‘Grill up’ made with low-fat sausages, lean bacon, beans, tomatoes and eggs fried in low-calorie cooking spray.
Mid-morning: An apple.
Lunch: Large chicken salad followed by a high-fibre cereal bar.
Dinner: Home-made sticky teriyaki pork served with vegetables and wholegrain rice, or home-made cheesy chicken risotto.
Evening snack: Small chocolate bar, flavoured fat-free Greek yogurt, low-fat ice cream, or hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Watch Ross tell his story here

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