As a teacher, it’s always a little bit daunting to start a job at a new school – so imagine how it felt to sit on a table and have it collapse beneath me. It happened during morning assembly, in front of 900 students! I was completely mortified but, as always, I tried to brush it off with a joke. 

A tight squeeze

At 22st, I was used to my weight causing problems at work. I teach music, so I often take part in musical performances. They’re more physical than you might think and before I lost weight they would leave me exhausted and completely breathless. Being overweight was destroying my confidence, too. Orchestra pits are fairly small spaces, and I was always very conscious of how much room I was taking up. 

The turning point

I’d started to worry about my health a lot, too. I remember moving house and then going to the doctors because I was scared that nagging chest pains were the start of a heart attack. They weren’t, I just wasn’t used to manual labour and had pulled a muscle lifting boxes. It was enough to make me want to make a change, though. 

Before, walking from one end of school to the other was a struggle and it would leave me breathless. Now, I can walk for miles!

Finding food freedom

When my friend Amanda joined Slimming World, I decided to go along, too – and I haven’t looked back! I’d tried lots of diets in the past, but they always left me feeling deprived and they didn’t teach me anything about food. Slimming World was totally different. I finally had the freedom to choose what I wanted to eat –and I learned how to enjoy my favourite foods and get the weight loss I wanted. 

I still really enjoy going to group and my Consultant, Sinead, is incredible. She’s just the most caring and inspiring person. Because she’s lost weight herself, she knows how it feels to have ups and downs along the way. She always seems to know the right thing to say, and I really couldn’t have done it without her. The other members are really supportive too, and it’s so motivating to be surrounded by people who have the same goal as me. 

I donʼt fear going out any more or worry that I won’t have anything to wear that fits 

Looking for love

My friend Amanda, who I started my journey with, has now lost 3½st and she got married recently. She looked absolutely beautiful and we both felt incredible on the day. My love life is looking up as well! Losing 10st gave me the confidence to try online dating and I met my now-boyfriend, Kieran. 

It might sound clichéd but losing weight really has been life-changing for me. Looking back, a lot of my worries were connected to my weight. I was concerned about my health and my ability to do my job, and my self-esteem was so low. Now, all those worries have disappeared and I can genuinely look forward to the future. I can’t wait to see what’s coming my way! 

What a difference! Neither of us thought this was possible. I’m so proud of Amanda. I’m also really proud of how far I’ve come

3 things that were key to Ryan’s 10st weight loss success

Cooking from scratch – to suit me! 

I always used to claim I was too busy to cook, but I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Lots of Slimming World recipes are really quick and easy, and my food tastes so much better now because it’s all home-made. Small things – like swapping oil for low-calorie cooking spray – make such a big difference. I love the fact that the Food Optimising plan is so flexible and I can tailor it to my own likes and dislikes. I’ve never felt restricted and that’s what makes it so easy to stick to. 

Try a recipe: There are more than 1,600 tried-and-tested Slimming World recipes on the exclusive member website. Sample a selection here 

Tackling my triggers with group support 

Going to group really helped me to understand my danger zones and find strategies to overcome any situations that were potentially tricky for me – like going on holiday. It was reassuring to know that, even though I couldn’t control what kind of food would be on offer, I could control the choices I made and get right back to Food Optimising when I got home. That personalised support was really invaluable to me.

Boosting my wellbeing with activity 

Before I lost weight, even the simplest tasks would leave me out of breath. Thanks to Slimming World’s Body Magic activity programme, which helps you to get active at your own pace, I now love getting out in the countryside and going for a good long walk. It helps both my body and my mind. I find work a lot easier, too – I think nothing of being on my feet all day. 

Watch Ryan tell his story here

Ryan’s day on a plate

Before

After

Breakfast

A sausage roll.

Fresh fruit with fat-free natural yogurt.

Lunch

A pie or pasty from the hot counter in the school canteen.

Now, I always take something home-made to school, like a big, filling chicken salad.

Dinner

Usually a takeaway or high-calorie ready meal.

Either a Food Optimising meal like cottage pie or, if Iʼm short on time, a Slimming World food range meal from Iceland.

Snacks

Crisps, chocolate, sweets.

Chocolate using my Syns or a Slimming World Hi-fi bar.

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