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Keeping ourselves as happy and in good health as possible is more important than ever – and maintaining a healthy weight is a big part of that.

One couple who know this from experience is our fantastic Couple of the Year 2019 winners, Tony and Katie Viney. Inspired by their children, they lost an amazing 15st between them – and now, they’re taking full advantage of their healthy lifestyles to take part in a crucial University of Oxford trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

To find out how they’ve been keeping on track during lockdown, we asked Tony and Katie to share their video diary. We then caught up with the couple to learn more about how they’re joining the fight against the virus…

You’re in your eighth week of lockdown. Have you found it more difficult to Food Optimise?

Tony: It’s definitely been more challenging. While I was losing weight, I’d slipped into a comfortable routine with Food Optimising. I’d do the food shop on Saturday, spend Sunday doing a bit of batch cooking and then all my meals were planned around my working day. When lockdown started, suddenly I wasn’t living by the clock any more and I did lose focus. I’d skip certain meals and find myself dipping into the fridge throughout the day, just because it was there.

Katie: It was the same for me. We’ve got four teenagers at home and they are always in the kitchen cooking, and it felt like we were surrounded by food at times, which could be hard to resist. Food shopping was difficult, too, because the shelves were emptier than usual. We knew we couldn’t just pop to the shops later in the week, so if we couldn’t find something we needed, we had to think of something we could replace it with on the spot or go without.

What’s helped you to stay on track throughout the lockdown?

Tony: The main thing has been getting back into a routine with our meal times. We’ve started taking a banana and an apple with us when we walk the dogs, then we’ll have something more filling like a bowl of porridge or eggs and lean bacon fried in low-calorie cooking spray for lunch. We’re eating dinner a bit later these days, but it’s always something Food Optimising friendly like bangers and mash with onion gravy.

Sausage and mashed potato - Katie and Tony Viney - Success story - Slimming World Blog

Katie: I’ve found that it really helps to keep things fresh and not get stuck in a recipe rut. We’ve got a bit more time on our hands now, so we like to mix up our lunches – we had smashed avocado with smoked salmon on wholemeal toast the other day (Slimming World members can use the food search tool to work out the Syn value of this – SW Matt). It’s something I wouldn’t normally have had the time to make, and it tasted like a real treat.

Salmon and poached egg - Katie and Tony Viney - Success story - Slimming World Blog

Tony: We get lots of ideas from other members in our Slimming World virtual group, as well as posting our own ideas on our Instagram accounts @tiny_viney_sw and @katie_v_sw. Last night we tried Greek spatchcocked chicken with hasselback potatoes and it was delicious.

How do you make Body Magic work while staying at home?

Katie: I’ve been learning how to hula hoop with Tony. It’s something I’ve never been able to do and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of trying to pick it up. We’ve also set up a badminton net in the garden to play with the kids – although the dogs keep running off with the shuttlecock!

Katie Viney - Success story - Slimming World Blog

Tony: And I’ve been getting stuck into the painting and decorating – which is a workout in itself.

Katie: It makes such a big difference mentally, especially when you get out in the fresh air. We’ve got our bikes back out and done a few 20-mile rides around a nature reserve near our house. Even from a distance, being able to see other faces while we’re out cycling helps me feel more connected to the world again.

Katie and Tony Viney - Bike riding - Success story - Slimming World Blog

What do you think of My Slimming World Virtual Groups?

Katie: They’re fantastic! What has really surprised me is that the atmosphere in group hasn’t really changed. We’re all there to support each other, just as we always have been. If you’ve had a tough week, you know that the other members will be there to encourage you to get back on track.

Tony: Having the accountability that group provides is important as well. I know that every Tuesday I’ve choose to get on the scales and I want to be happy with the number I see – and that’s really given me the motivation to refocus on maintaining my weight loss. And if I do have a tough week, I know our Consultant, Mandy, will be there with expert advice and motivational tools to keep me on track.

Katie: It’s also just really nice to see everyone’s faces. We go to group to get support with our weight loss journeys, but the other members are good friends, too. It could be a long time before we get to see them in person again, so having time each week to see their faces and hear how they’re getting on makes a difference. It’s a little bit of normal at a time that’s anything but.

You’ve recently decided to volunteer for the University of Oxford’s trial of a coronavirus vaccine. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Tony: It’s been an incredible experience. We couldn’t have imagined being part of something like this before we lost weight. We wouldn’t have been able to apply for the trial at our heaviest because we wouldn’t have met the BMI criteria.

Katie: That’s actually a big part of why we wanted to volunteer. They’re saying if your BMI is classes obese and you get coronavirus, your chance of survival is lower. Because we’ve lost weight, it feels more important that we take part. This is our chance to give something back and help, so that life can return to normal.

Katie and Tony Viney - Success story - Slimming World Blog

What has it been like to be involved in such a high-profile medical trial?

Katie: It’s exciting. We applied with our daughter, Rhiannon, and got through to a health screening. They took our blood pressure, checked our hearts and lungs and took blood tests – it was like a full health MOT! A couple of weeks later, we all got hospital appointments to receive the vaccine. They sent us home with an online diary to record our temperatures and keep a score of 0-4 for how we feel every day. We haven’t had any symptoms, but on the first evening Rhiannon’s arm was a bit sore.

Tony: I don’t think we realised how big a deal it was at first. You hear about all the other vaccine trials going on around the world, so we didn’t really think about the significance of what we were doing. But the reaction has been incredible. We’ve had news channels filming us and we even received a message from Slimming World’s founder Margaret Miles-Bramwell, telling us how proud she is of us. We’re really hoping that this is the vaccine that works. We could be making history.

Katie and Tony Viney - Success story - Slimming World Blog

We’re incredibly proud of what Tony and Katie are doing and how it shows the amazing things that weight loss can lead to. If their story has inspired you to join Slimming World, you can find out more about joining a My Slimming World Virtual Group or our friendly Online Community, here.

We’d love to hear what slimming strategies have been keeping you going through this challenging time. Share your tips, ideas and inspiring stories with the blog or on social using #theSlimmingWorldblog.

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