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In October 2021, I joined Slimming World weighing 19st 9lbs. Three days before, I’d tried on the best man’s suit that I’d bought before the pandemic for a friend’s wedding. As I pulled the trousers on, I realised they didn’t fit and I had to get the suit altered to be two sizes bigger. I was mortified and that’s when I knew I needed to do something about my weight.

Yes you can at Christmas with Slimming World.

Feeling isolated

It wasn’t just my choice of clothes that was affected by my size – I was concerned about my health, too. I was on medication for chronic gout and I could barely walk because of the pain.

I also suffered from crippling anxiety and was full of self-doubt. I worked from home in recruitment, and I tried my best to appear confident and positive on screen. Inside, though, I was nervous and I always felt that people were judging me.

Slimming World member Joe Thompson transformation

When I confessed to a couple of friends how unhappy I was, they were really supportive. They’d both lost weight with Slimming World and they encouraged me to give it a go.

The thought of joining was terrifying, but I needn’t have worried. The Consultant, Lorna, was so reassuring and as she explained how Food Optimising worked, it sounded really simple to follow. I couldn’t believe I could eat chicken, rice and pasta freely, without any weighing, measuring or counting!

Joe’s menu


Breakfast: Bacon and sausage sandwich on white bread with lots of butter and ketchup, or a greasy fry-up at weekends.
Lunch: King-size instant noodle pot and crisps.
Dinner: A ready-meal or takeaway from the Chinese, Indian or kebab shop.
Snacks: Crisps, bars of chocolate, sweets.
Drinks: Sugary tea, cola and energy drinks.

Breakfast: Baked beans, scrambled egg and bacon medallions on my Healthy Extra ‘b’ wholemeal toast.
Lunch: A lunch pot from Slimming World’s food range (available from Iceland) with extra steamed vegetables.
Dinner: Diet cola chicken with lots of Speed veg or salad.
Snacks: A small bag of crisps, a Freddo bar or a pot of low-fat yogurt.
Drinks: Water and the occasional vodka and diet cola.

The power of group support

As I sat down and listened to the other members talking in group, I realised I wasn’t alone. There’s something really special about being in a space together like that, where everyone feels safe enough to talk about their habits and temptations – it makes you feel so connected.

That first week, I tried to prove the eating plan wrong by eating as much pasta as I possibly could, so I was amazed to discover I’d lost 11lbs at the next weigh-in! The reaction from the rest of the group was so lovely. Losing weight suddenly felt doable and I wanted to succeed for the group as much as for myself.

I feel such a part of my slimming community now. My group’s amazing – I’m not sure I’ve ever met a more supportive bunch of people. I was having a tough time a few weeks ago, and one of the members drove to my house to deliver some home-made Slimming World muffins! I’m constantly blown away by their kindness. I’ve made firm friends and I get genuinely excited about going to group each week – there really is no comparison between seeing everyone in real life and hiding behind tech. I was surprised by how many people were a similar age to me, as well, and I’ve been really pleased to see more men join recently.

At Slimming World, we know that feeling connected in a group of kind and understanding people – who care about your success and positively support you to succeed – makes all the difference when you’re trying to lose weight.

Our poll of Slimming World members found that*:

  • Three in four said they felt more confident and self-assured as a result of joining a Slimming World group
  • 73% made new friends
  • 68% felt more connected
  • 93% felt more committed to their weight loss

*Read our research into social connection and weight loss here

Growing in confidence

If I think back to how I used to eat before joining Slimming World, it was pretty much all processed food and takeaways. Now, I make healthy versions of the food I ate before, like a full English with bacon medallions and scrambled eggs using a low-fat cooking spray. I also love a Slimming World fakeaway – my favourite’s chicken tikka masala. I’m never hungry or feel like I’m missing out.

Losing 5st has definitely improved my health, which was my original goal. But it’s changed my life in so many other ways, too. I have more self-respect, and I look after myself by eating in a way that fuels and nourishes me and gives me more energy. I make time for long walks and I cook from scratch a lot more. It’s even fixed my loud snoring – apparently I’m now eerily quiet when I’m asleep. The cherry on the cake was being named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek 2023! When I joined Slimming World, I had no idea I’d gain all these extra benefits and a fully-formed support network. It really has been a life-changing experience. 

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