If your goal for 2021 is to embrace healthier habits, we’ve got an inspiring success story to give your weight loss motivation an extra boost. Mike Davis once weighed over 21½st and, struggling to control his rising blood sugar levels, feared he might not be around for his family in the long term. We caught up with him to find out how he lost 9st, no longer needs medication for type 2 diabetes and discovered the health and mood-lifting benefits of Body Magic, too!
To help you transform your health, just like Mike did, we’re offering discounted Slimming World virtual group or Online membership, as part of the government’s Better Health campaign. Based on over 50 years of experience, expertise and science, our programme is used by the NHS to help people achieve real and lasting weight loss. Find out how to take up the offer at the bottom of this post.
How was your weight affecting your health, Mike?
When I weighed over 21½st, I’d start walking down the street and feel out of breath after just a few minutes. Although I’d rather have spent my weekends in front of the TV with a glass of wine, occasionally my wife Tracy would convince me to walk our dogs, Ebony and Tallie, along the promenade at Minster-on-Sea on the Isle of Sheppey. To get back up the bank, we had to climb 96 steps – I know because I’ve counted every one, many times, in my breathless journey up to our house high above the shingle beach, with my knees creaking all the way.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and put on medication to control my blood sugar levels. Despite repeated warnings that I was putting myself at risk of heart attack or stroke, I didn’t take them seriously. I enjoyed ordering a takeaway and washing it down with pints of my favourite scrumpy cider, and I told myself that as long as I kept taking the tablets I’d be fine. But my blood sugar levels kept rising – as did the number of tablets I was taking – until eventually the doctor explained to me that I’d soon have to inject myself with insulin. That’s when I realised just how much harm I was doing to my body.
So what made you decide to lose weight?
Even with my health problems, I didn’t really feel motivated to make a change until I came close to losing Tracy. She was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago and through the days after her mastectomy, followed by months of debilitating chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she’d remained focused on beating it for the sake of her family.
During those dark days I was forced to face a terrible future for our children. Although I’d become used to the idea I wasn’t going to be around to see my grandchildren, until Tracy’s diagnosis, I’d always assumed that at least the children would have their mum. The thought of leaving them all alone was too much for me to bear.
When Tracy’s cancer went into remission in 2015, a weight lifted from all of us, and I felt ready to tackle my own health. I told Tracy that a couple of people at work had been going to Slimming World and were doing really well. Then I suggested we could try it together and she said: ‘Let’s give it a go.’
Once you got started, how easy was it to adapt to Food Optimising?
Tracy has always been a fantastic cook, so I had a great teacher by my side as I learned to make meals from scratch. From the start, she helped me put Food Optimising into practice and, to my utter astonishment, I discovered that I like cooking – and I love vegetables! Previously, they were grudgingly added to the small section of my plate that wasn’t already filled up with meat and chips. Together, Tracy and I made an unstoppable team, serving up meals like sticky chicken with vegetables and rice, and crispy chilli beef, all so tasty and filling it was hard to believe they were slimming-friendly. But the scales were showing my weight going down, so I knew it was working…
I hear you’re a big fan of our Body Magic activity programme…
You’ve got that right – poor Ebony and Tallie have never been walked so much! My only regret is that I waited until I reached my target weight to start getting active. Again, it was Tracy who gave me the nudge to get going. She was training for a triathlon and suggested that I join her for a bike ride along the promenade. Although I felt unsteady heading off on my son Callum’s bike, it was a strangely liberating feeling, and when we got back home having covered 15km, I felt a real sense of achievement.
That inspired me to start running, and after a few months of slowly building up the distances I could manage, I was taking part in my first 5K event with no pain in my knees at all. A year later I was crossing the finish line of the Great North Run in Newcastle, with my family cheering me on.
I’ve always been a very competitive person, so aiming for my next Body Magic award in group helped keep me motivated. I’ve since added the Platinum award to my collection and I can’t imagine not being active. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Tracy and I would go to a Boxercise class a couple of times a week, and now I’ve set up a mini gym in my garage so I can stay active during lockdown.
Has losing weight changed your life in other ways?
It’s hard to know where to start – what hasn’t changed? I no longer take any diabetes medication, and I’m healthier, more energetic and happier than I’ve ever been. One of the best moments came in September 2019. Tracy and I were jogging slowly back along the promenade after racing through a Parkrun that takes place on the Minster seafront. When we came to the 96 steps up the grassy bank, we laughed and leapt up them two at a time in a race to the top.
Although the past 12 months have been full of challenges – I lost my job during the first lockdown, and I feared for my daughter, who works in a hospital, and son, who is a police officer – with the support of my Slimming World virtual group, I’ve managed to maintain my weight loss and fitness levels. Sadly, we recently learned that Tracy’s cancer has returned, but her diagnosis has made me more determined than ever to stay as healthy as possible so that I can support her through her treatment. Losing 9st means I know I can be there for my family when they need me most, and I’m proud to say that.
FREE Slimming World group membership
If you’d like expert support to help you achieve lifelong weight loss success, you can join your local Slimming World virtual group and receive FREE membership, plus six weeks for the price of five when you buy a six-week Countdown course. Simply join before 7th February and present a Better Health voucher on your smartphone or on a printout at a Slimming World group.
£15 off Slimming World Online membership
If you’d like to kick-start your journey towards better health, we’re offering £15 off Slimming World Online membership if you sign up before midnight 13th March 2021. Click the link below and enter the code PHE2021 to take up the offer.