I’d grown up with the nickname ‘Big Uft’, and was known as the larger-than-life beer monster who loved a curry after a pub crawl. That was all well and good in my 20s: I still played five-a-side football – albeit mostly in goal – and hadn’t really noticed my weight holding me back.
But by the time I’d reached my 40s I wasn’t feeling great. I’d taken on an allotment as my wife, Mo, wouldn’t let me loose digging up her beautiful garden, and tending to it left me out of breath and bent over with back pain. It was so bad that after a while I’d have to sink to my knees to be able to dig the soil over.
Fast forward to 2017, when I sat hungover with my family in a pub in Liverpool where we’d gone to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. It had been a weekend of food and drink excess, and that morning I was feeling lousy. My thoughts drifted to the following year, when my daughter Sarah was due to get married, and I didn’t like the mental image I had of myself as father of the bride.
I suddenly announced to the family: ‘Sarah’s going to look beautiful at the wedding and I don’t want to walk her down the aisle looking or feeling like this – I’m going to try to lose 4st.’ To say the response was sceptical is an understatement, but their disbelieving faces toughened my resolve. ‘Let’s just wait and see,’ I thought.
Getting into my stride
A couple of our friends had been to Slimming World and had fantastic success in losing weight, so I used them as my inspiration, and in September 2017 I joined a group close to home. I was so nervous that I got there an hour early as the Consultant, Amelia, was setting up. She smiled at me warmly and said: ‘You really don’t need to worry – you’ll love group, I’m sure of it.’
I felt less nervous when I returned a bit later on, already put at ease by Amelia’s welcome. And when I turned out to be the only man who stayed for the full session, I was surprised that it wasn’t as big a deal as I’d expected.
Back home, my first hurdle was Mo and my younger daughter Mia’s flat refusal to eat ‘Slimming World food’ as they termed it. As I’d always done the cooking, I decided that I just wouldn’t tell them we were all eating the same Food Optimising meals – the funny thing is, they didn’t notice. I kept on making all our favourites, using the simple swaps I’d read about in my new-member pack.
Now my spag bol was always made with lean mince and no oil, and for Sunday dinner I cooked our roasties in low-calorie cooking spray and trimmed the fat off my meat. And, while I lost a fantastic 6½lbs in my first week, they were happily enjoying their dinners.
By Christmas I’d smashed my 4st target – but I wasn’t ready to stop just yet! Amelia had spoken a lot in group about how getting active supports weight loss and helps keep it off long-term, so I decided to use Slimming World’s Body Magic programme to help me get started and build my way up.
I downloaded a Couch to 5K app and got myself some running shoes, but there was still one hurdle – I hated the idea of being seen exercising. I scoped out the local countryside and found an ideal spot where I could run without being seen by a soul.
It had seemed such a good plan. Only on my first morning there was a team from the council trimming the hedgerows, so I had an attentive audience for the entirety of my lung-bursting first attempt at jogging!
I very nearly gave up – but something inside kept me going. Little by little, my stamina increased and the burning in my chest eased, and to my surprise I began to enjoy it. Incredibly, I realised it was actually making me happier, and I started to look forward to going out for a run each morning.
Sarah’s big day... and a very proud dad
In May 2018, I stood in the church doorway with Sarah and we exchanged excited smiles before I took her arm and walked her down the aisle. She looked beautiful and, while all eyes were on the bride, I felt great in my slim dark-grey suit with its paler grey waistcoat, now 5st lighter.
As she said her vows to Richie, I was overwhelmed with pride. In the weeks that followed the wedding, Sarah started coming out running with me, which was a lovely way to spend some father/daughter time.
We spurred each other on, and decided to enter the Newark half-marathon together in 2019. With our mutual goal ahead, I trained hard. Now Food Optimising was just the way I ate, and by the time I ran across the finish line, I’d lost another stone and was the fittest I’d ever been.
Everything became easier now I wasn’t carrying that 6st around. My running has gone from strength to strength – so much so, I did something I never would’ve believed possible, running the 2021 London Marathon as part of Slimming World’s team and raising £2,300 for charity.
It felt so significant to represent Slimming World, because I wouldn’t be fighting fit and raring to go without the support of my group and Consultants. Now all I can say is, bring on the next challenge!
Scott’s day on a plate
Large bowl of cereal followed by a cooked breakfast or a bacon roll.
A couple of rounds of home-made sandwiches with crisps and chocolate, plus a supermarket meal deal.
Large tuna salad spiced with fresh chillies.
Pasta made with oil and sauce from a jar, topped with cheese, plus garlic bread. Or a chippy tea.
Home-made cottage pie with my home-grown veg.
Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.