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It’s a common concern that stopping smoking inevitably means gaining weight – however, we can help you to slim down while you quit. If you’d love to stub out those cigarettes, but are worried about the effect on the scales, this slimming story is for you. Brian managed to quit smoking while losing an incredible 10st with Slimming World, giving his health – and bank balance – a brilliant boost!

I’ve struggled with my size all my life. I first put weight on when I started junior school and was always getting told to slim down by my school nurse. I was bullied at school and each morning I would dread going.

I started smoking at the age of 14 or 15. Everyone was doing it and it helped me to fit in. Until around three and a half years ago (aged 48), I used to smoke 40 cigarettes a day, which was costing me around £30 a day. Then came my turning point and I decided enough was enough – my mind was made up: I was going to stop!

The previous year, in 2016, I’d already decided to make some changes. I put on a happy front around others, but underneath I was battling depression and, at over 22st, I knew my weight was killing me. I had type 2 diabetes, which meant regular check-ups with my nurse – and I had to take tablets every day for both that and for my cholesterol levels, which were sky high. 

As well as my health issues, being overweight caused lots of practical problems. Due to my size, I struggled to get out of bed and put my socks on. Getting in and out of my car was a daily challenge and, when I did manage to get in, my stomach was right up against the steering wheel, making it uncomfortable to drive. I was falling asleep all the time, too, as I had no energy. 

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I realised that I needed to change my eating habits. My health problems were getting me down and I wanted to see if losing weight would make a difference. I’d previously driven a heavy goods vehicle and I was desperate to get healthier so I could get in the HGV cab again. My partner was a member of Slimming World and, when I saw how well she was doing, I decided to join her.

Walking in to group in April 2016, I was really nervous, and I think I may have seemed quite grumpy! But actually, I just felt so embarrassed. I thought only women attended slimming clubs and I was terrified of what the scales would say. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly though – including the other men that I was surprised to see in the group. Suddenly, I didn’t feel alone any more. 

MORE ON THE BLOG: Vincent had £16k of weight loss surgery – but it was joining a Slimming World group that finally helped him lose weight for good

I found the Slimming World Food Optimising plan really easy to follow, and I got off to a flying start, steadily losing weight every week. The change in me was almost unbelievable. I looked in the mirror one day and was shocked at the difference! My clothes had started to get very baggy – I even had an embarrassing moment when my trousers nearly fell down! 

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It’s safe to say that joining Slimming World completely transformed my diet. Before, I’d start the day with a greasy fried breakfast, followed by sausage rolls for lunch and a takeaway for dinner with cakes, biscuits, sweets and lots of bread to snack on in between. Now, I love to fill up on Weetabix with fruit, filling ham salads and chicken with rice and vegetables. I like the fact there’s so much healthy food to choose from, and the fact that I’m never hungry has helped me stick to plan. I cook a lot more for myself now, too. My favourite meal to cook is home-made lasagne – it tastes amazing!

By 2017, I was a year into my weight loss journey and had lost 5st. I’d completely changed my eating habits – ditching the greasy food and takeaways – and I decided it was time to tackle another unhealthy habit, smoking. I was so nervous that I’d put the weight I’d lost back on. However, everyone at group pulled me through all of my doubts. They encouraged me so much and told me how proud they were, and that gave me the boost of confidence I needed and put me in the right mindset to quit. I remember my last cigarette clearly. One Sunday night I had two cigarettes left in the packet; I smoked one and gave the other away, and I’ve never looked back. 

Brian’s top tip: Eating fruit helped to curb my hunger pangs – find more top tips to help you quit here

When I joined Slimming World in April 2016, I weighed 22st 9lbs and had a 52in waist. Now, I have a 34in waist, I’m sleeping well compared to before and I love going out and socialising. I reached my target weight of 13st in November 2018. The nurse at my local GP surgery was so happy for me that she cried – she’d never seen results like it! 

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Now that I’m more comfortable with my weight, I’m able to be far more active – gone are the days of struggling to get into my car! I’ve joined a gym, I go cycling, swimming and for long walks. I’m able to play with my granddaughter and I’m happy. My lifestyle has completely changed and the best thing is that my type 2 diabetes is in remission!

But that’s not all! There’s another big benefit to stopping smoking. I soon realised that, with the money I was saving on cigarettes, I could afford to treat myself to a new car – which is exactly what I did.

Joining Slimming World really helped me to totally transform the way I live my life for good, and I’m so proud that I was able to keep up my healthy habits during lockdown. I walked, exercised, got my hands dirty in the garden and I run regularly on the seafront near where I live. When it comes to planning meals, my partner and I batch cook to make sure we’re well prepared for the week ahead. I make sure that I always have breakfast before leaving the house, and I take salads and fruit with me for lunch – healthy on-the-go meals and snacks are essential for me now that I’ve achieved my dream of becoming an HGV driver! 

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I feel like a different person now. I’m a non-smoker, my health has improved and I’ve managed to maintain my weight loss. Life is great and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.

MORE ON THE BLOG: Paul lost 12st and got his soaring blood pressure under control

As Brian’s inspirational story shows, it is possible to stop smoking and still lose weight. If you’d like to quit but are worried about weight gain, we can help – you’ll find lots of info and great tips to help here. 

If you’re not yet a Slimming World member, now’s a fantastic time to join, as we’re currently running our best-ever offer:

Simply commit to a six-week Countdown before 10th October 2020, and you’ll get a FREE recipe book and a FREE week (six weeks for the price of five).

Your local Consultant can help you book your place in group and bag your freebies!

We also have a NHS Better Health offer which will save you £20 on membership packages for our digital-only service, Slimming World Online. Find out more here.

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