When you join Slimming World, there’s no telling where your weight loss journey will take you. At over 24st, Jason Dury felt like life was passing him by. Now, he’s halved his body weight and is planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Himalayas. Here, we catch up with Jason to find out how he changed his mindset and rediscovered his passion for living.
Congratulations, Jason, on winning Man of the Year. What made you decide to lose weight?
There were two things that got me to join Slimming World. In September 2017, I boarded a flight at Dublin Airport. It was the first time I’d flown in years, and when I sat down, I couldn’t get the seat belt to fasten. No matter how hard I pushed, it just wouldn’t clip into place. Because my seat was right at the front of the plane, I had to stand facing all the other passengers while a member of the cabin crew fitted a seat-belt extension. When I finally sunk back into my seat, my cheeks were burning with embarrassment. That flight was the longest hour of my life.
A week later, I started having awful migraines and didn’t sleep for almost three days. I booked an appointment with my GP, who told me my headaches were caused by my dangerously high blood pressure. Then she said something that really shocked me: “If you don’t do something about your weight, you’re heading for a heart attack or stroke.” I was terrified. I knew my weight was affecting my health – just climbing a flight of stairs would leave me gasping for breath – but now I realised it was putting my life at risk. I joined Slimming World four days later.
Were you nervous about going to a Slimming World group as a man?
I almost didn’t turn up! I’d intended to go to the 10am group, but when I pulled into the car park I was too nervous to go inside. I thought I’d be the only man there and that the other people there would judge me about my size, so I drove away. The doctor’s warning was still ringing in my ears, though, so I turned the car around and arrived in time for the midday session. I was met at the door by the biggest bundle of fun I’ve ever met, my Consultant, Clare Lewis. She immediately put me at ease, and when I looked around the room I spotted some other men. As I listened to the other members talk about the challenges they’d faced that week, I realised I was surrounded by people who were all trying to achieve the same goal – and who were supporting each other to get there. All the worries I’d had just moments before drifted away.
As a lorry driver, you have to travel a lot. How do you fit Food Optimising around your working life?
I get food shops delivered to my truck! I got the idea from a member in group and, as long as I ring to explain my situation, most supermarkets are happy to help. I order tinned vegetables to make my meals from, and also plenty of fresh fruit to snack on in between. I’ve got a hob and saucepans in the truck, so the only limit is my imagination. I’ve cooked up everything from a lamb hotpot and bolognese to my favourite chicken tikka masala with green beans.
When did you first notice a difference in yourself?
It wasn’t until I’d lost about 10st that I really realised how far I’d come. I was working in the Lake District and, while walking through a little village on my break, I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window. It was the first time I’d dared to really look at myself. And you know what? I liked what I saw! In fact, I was so pleased, I decided to go back and look at my reflection from the other angle. As I stood admiring myself, I noticed two staff members watching me on the other side of the window, who seemed to find my behaviour highly amusing. I just chuckled to myself and carried on walking, thinking, ‘if only they knew…’.
I’ve heard you weren’t a big fan of exercise before joining Slimming World. How did Body Magic change your mind?
You’re right, there! Although I was more active in my younger days, I didn’t enjoy it much after I gained weight. The more I put on, the less I wanted to do. Clare really helped change my mindset towards activity. She explained that I could start slow and build up from there. I decided to try walking for 20 minutes around my local park – mostly because it was flat and there were plenty of benches where I could stop to have a rest. Gradually, I increased the distance and time, and even tackled some hills, too. Once the Body Magic awards started rolling in, I knew my way of thinking had turned around. Suddenly, I looked forward to walking, giving myself different challenges every week and thinking about how to get my next award.
What have been the biggest benefits of losing weight for you?
Everything has improved. My blood pressure is back to a healthy level and I don’t get migraines any more. Because I’m sleeping better, I’ve got so much more energy. Before I joined Slimming World, I felt like I was drifting through my life, but now I want to get out there as much as possible. I’ve always wanted to see Mount Everest, and I’ve decided to go for it. I’m saving for the trip now and, fingers crossed, in 2022, I’ll be doing a 12-day trek through the Himalayas to spend two nights at Everest Base Camp. I can’t wait!
If Jason’s story has inspired you to start your weight loss journey, we can help. When you join Slimming World, you’ll be welcomed with lots of support, absolutely no judgement and over 1,500 slimming-friendly recipes on our members-only website and app.
And if you’re currently on your weight loss journey or have already achieved your slimming dreams with Slimming World, we’d love to hear your story.