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As well as helping our members’ amazing achievements hit the headlines, the Slimming World PR team are our go-to source for what’s in the news. Here, Lucy Fisher discusses the Prime Minister’s plan to tackle obesity – and shares the story of a Slimming World member who found that there are no shortcuts to weight loss success. Over to you, Lucy…

The news is full of conflicting headlines at the moment, so it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. One story that really grabbed our attention, though, was news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is vowing to ‘put the nation on a diet’ by focusing on increased exercise and a greater reliance on medical interventions like surgery. 

Of course, Slimming World welcomes any new steps to improve the nation’s health, yet we believe that any strategy should include supporting people to change their lifestyle and form new healthy habits to help them lose weight.

This is supported by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines which state that programmes for effective weight loss must address ‘dietary intake, physical activity level and behaviour change’.

As anyone who’s attended one of our Slimming World groups (which are temporarily running virtually) will know, with the support of their group and through guided self-discovery, members make positive changes to their habits. They learn how to shop, cook and eat healthily and to become more active. Those who choose to have surgery still need to make changes and adopt new habits, with many turning to Slimming World groups for support. This is Vincent’s story:

I spent £16K trying to lose weight with a quick fix. Then I changed my lifestyle, lost 8 stone and reversed my diabetes!

“I’ve struggled with my weight since my late teens. From time to time I’d lose weight, but I’d always put it back on – with interest. I found it more and more difficult to control as I got older, and I just got bigger and bigger.

In 2009, I was working as a firefighter for Merseyside Fire & Rescue, and I found my weight affected my ability to carry out my duties. I was so embarrassed when ordering my uniform, because the sizes I asked for were so large – I had a 46in waist and the shirts I needed had a 19.5in collar. So, I decided to pay for a gastric band to be fitted.

Unfortunately, I lost no weight at all after the operation, as the band moved in my stomach. I paid to have it corrected – and the band moved again. Then I paid to have the band removed and had a gastric bypass operation instead. I did lose enough weight to complete my service as a firefighter before I retired, but within two years of the operation, the weight had piled back on. I was so unhappy – I couldn’t see how I’d ever manage to lose weight when even £16,000-worth of surgery had failed!

When my doctor then called me in for a health assessment, I was shocked at the results. I already knew I was overweight and suffered arthritis in my joints – but I was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and prescribed a lot of tablets: metformin for the diabetes, plus medication for inherited high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I was distraught to think that this would be my life going forward. 

My older brother had tragically died, with his death certificate confirming obesity as a contributing factor. He could barely walk before he passed away. I didn’t want to be like that. Was that what I had to look forward to? 

I was desperate to lose weight when I started a new role visiting schools and colleges to share road-safety advice. When the occupational nurse at work said that she’d lost 3st since joining Slimming World, I decided to give it a try.

I’ll admit I was sceptical, but I had nothing to lose. When I started Slimming World in February 2018, I was 21st. I was nervous about joining – I felt embarrassed, thinking ‘blokes don’t do this’. I couldn’t have been more wrong, though. My Consultant made me feel so welcome and, to my surprise, it was great. We all had a good laugh, and I wasn’t the only man there.

My favourite bit about Slimming World is the group session. It’s so good to hear how everyone has got on through the week, and I’m always learning more about Food Optimising. At first, I couldn’t believe the variety of food I could eat. I’ve found that group is a great place to get some expert advice around how to cook recipes, and I know that when I Food Optimise, I lose weight. I’m using my pots and pans every day now, instead of eating microwave meals or ready-made chilli from a jar. Food tastes so much better now, too – the Slimming World chilli con carne is my favourite.

At home, I care for my younger brother, who has Down’s syndrome. Since I joined Slimming World and have been making healthier meals, Mike has lost over a stone, which our doctor is over the moon about. It’s great to know that Mike has lost weight as a result of my cooking.

I’ve now lost 8st, and I tell everyone how Slimming World has turned my life around completely! As a result of changing my way of life and not opting for a quick fix, I’ve overcome my medical problems and I’m not scared to visit my doctor any more. The surgery didn’t work, as all it did was temporarily stop me gaining weight. It didn’t address why I was gaining weight or help me with my ongoing struggle. Slimming World has given me the tools and the support to lose weight and keep it off.

I’m at my target weight now. I eat healthily and exercise regularly, and I look forward to each day when I wake up. My diabetes is in remission so I no longer need to take any medication for it, my blood pressure is in the healthy range and I’ve halved my cholesterol medication. Physically and mentally, I’m a new man. I’m more outgoing, confident and my self-esteem has shot up.

Although I still have arthritis in some of my joints, I’m so much more active than I was before. The most I ever did was walk around the supermarket, leaning on my trolley. Now I play football with my grandchildren (I have six, aged from five to 18), and I walk about seven miles every day. Walking is like using a duster inside your head: it blows the cobwebs clear away! I’ve even climbed Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon.

Read Jenny’s story for more mountain-climbing motivations!

Since I lost weight, I’ve been on holiday to Turkey. I loved it. I was confident around the pool – no more horrified stares! Now I’d like to take more holidays and enjoy my life to the full.

Everyone focuses on the obvious massive physical change, but what people can’t see is the mental and emotional change that’s happened inside me. I am so much happier and stronger as a person. I’m not self-conscious at all anymore. I approach life with a belief that I can do anything I set my mind to. I think of my older brother and I know that Slimming World has saved my life.”

Vincent’s day on a plate: 

Before

Breakfast: two cups of coffee

Lunch: nothing

Late afternoon: two microwave meals, or a large pie and pasty, or a chippy tea

Evening: family-size bag of peanuts, crisps and chocolate

After

Breakfast: two low-fat sausages, two bacon medallions (grilled), baked beans and scrambled eggs (cooked without butter or oil)

Lunch: fruit and overnight oats on the go

Snack: KitKat or Maltesers

Dinner: roast chicken, veggies (carrot ’n’ turnip, cauliflower, cabbage) and Slimming World gravy

A recent survey conducted by Slimming World found that many of our members report improvements to their health as a result of losing weight – including the reversal of type 2 diabetes. Like Vincent, Tracy McCormack reversed her type 2 diabetes, after losing an incredible 16st.

We’re determined to support our members with those healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes that can make such a big difference. If you’d like to find out about Slimming World groups (temporarily running virtually), your local Consultant will be happy to tell you more. You can also find out more about joining Slimming World here.

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