Walk this way, say slimming couple who’ve lost 11½st

Grandparents Mark and Amanda Gibbon together have lost nearly 11½st and added decades to their lives after overhauling their eating habits and taking up walking. Now the pair have started up a walking group to help their fellow slimmers build up their steps to get active too and been named Slimming World’s Couple of the Year 2017.

Their achievement comes just days after new NHS figures found that a quarter of people are so sedentary that they don’t even manage a 30 minute walk once a week.*

Mark and Amanda Gibbon, from Chepstow in Monmouthshire, embarked on their weight-loss journey after they were both left red-faced by a couple of unpleasant experiences. Mark was mortified at being forced to ask for a seatbelt extension on a plane and Amanda was in tears after an incident in a changing room.

Just eight months later they’ve dropped 11st 5lbs between them to win the national slimming title and Mark’s doctor has told him he’s added 20 years to his life.

Fifty-three-year-old Mark has lost 7st 11½lbs, going from 20st 10½lbs to 12st 13lbs, and dropped 14 inches from his waist. He says: “It was beyond embarrassing having to ask for a seatbelt extension, you just know all eyes are on you and can almost hear people whispering ‘look, he needs a seatbelt extension’. And the worst thing is that you know you’re going to have to ask for one on the way back too.

“Meanwhile, Amanda hated shopping and on one occasion ended up fleeing a changing room in floods of tears because she couldn’t find anything to fit and hated seeing herself from every angle in the mirror. It was things like that that made us think that something really needed to change.”

The couple, who have three children and two grandchildren between them, say they’ve always struggled with their weight and have tried endless diets in bids to bring it under control, including juice diets, calorie counting and low-carb plans.

After both of their embarrassing incidents, Mark and Amanda knew they had to take action and joined Slimming World on the recommendation of their daughter Rachel, 29.

Mark says: “It was never supposed to be my weight-loss journey, I was going to follow the plan at home to support Amanda and that was it. I thought a Slimming World group would be a roomful of ladies and didn’t think that would suit me because of that, but little did I know how inspirational those ladies would be! Our group is like a family to us now.”

Amanda, 46, says: “I told Mark I needed him to come in with me and the rest is history.”

Since walking through the doors of their local Chepstow Slimming World group last July they’ve completely transformed their diet thanks to the Food Optimising eating plan, which allows members to satisfy their appetite on healthy, filling foods like fruit and veg, pasta, rice, potatoes, lean meat, fish and more with no weighing, counting or measuring.

Amanda, who has lost 3st 10lbs, going from 13st 8½lbs to 9st 12½lbs and dropped from a size 18 to a 10, says: “We’ve learned how to cook from scratch and experiment with flavours – we often joke that we didn’t know what a butternut squash or courgette was before Slimming World! The biggest change we made was starting to plan our meals though. Now we sit down on a Sunday and make a weekly menu and whatever happens in the week we know what we’re eating, some of our favourites now are paella and lamb with stir fried veg. Eating this way is just natural to us now and it’s so easy.”

Amanda Gibbon, Slimming World Couple of the Year 2017
Life is just amazing now. We’re healthier – Mark’s doctor told him that he’s probably added 20 years to his life.
Amanda Gibbon, Slimming World Couple of the Year 2017

As well as changing their eating habits, Mark and Amanda decided to try becoming more active too. They now enjoy running and have started their own walking group with some members of their Slimming World group. Amanda says: “Lots of people were reluctant to do any exercise because they thought they had to join a gym or start jogging and they found that far too intimidating. At our Slimming World group we talk about starting slowly when it comes to getting moving and building up until regular activity is a habit, and the walking group shows people just how beneficial that can be. We go out once a fortnight and now there’s loads of us – everyone’s welcome – and it’s great fun.”Mark and Amanda’s relatives have joined them on their weight loss campaign. They’ve inspired nine members of their family to slim down and as a family they’ve lost a total of 24st 9lbs between them. Their health has also improved with Mark’s GP telling him his blood pressure has reduced dramatically thanks to his weight loss.

Amanda says: “Life is just amazing now. We’re healthier – Mark’s doctor told him that he’s probably added 20 years to his life – and so much fitter. We love running around after our grandchildren instead of being ‘Nan and Bamp’ who just sit in the chair or puff and pant after just five minutes of playing.

“This isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life for us now and we’re not going to let go of everything that we’ve gained thanks to Slimming World. We always tell people: the hardest part is walking through the doors, the rest is easy.”


Mark Gibbon

Age: 53

Height: 6ft/1.83m

Starting weight: 20st 10½lbs/290½lbs/132kg

Current weight: 12st 13lbs/181lbs/82kg

Weight loss: 7st 11½lbs/109½lbs/50kg

Starting waist measurement: 48”/122cm

Starting chest measurement: 50”/127cm

Current waist measurement: 34”/86cm

Current chest measurement: 44”/112cm

Date joined Slimming World: July 2016

Amanda Gibbon

Age: 46

Height: 5ft 6in/1.67

Starting weight: 13st 8½lbs/190½lbs/86kg

Current weight: 9st 12½lbs/138½lbs/63kg

Weight loss: 3st 10lbs/52lbs/23kg

Starting dress size: 18

Current dress size: 10/12

Date joined Slimming World: July 2016

Group: Mark and Amanda lost weight at the Chepstow Slimming World group, which was run by Debra Campbell until recently. It is now run by David Richardson every Monday at 7.30pm at Chepstow Methodist Church Hall. Debra now runs groups in Poole in Dorset.

Before menu:

Breakfast: Cooked full English, Bacon and egg roll or Sugary cereal (Crunchy Nut Cornflakes were a favourite)

Lunch: Something from a petrol station like pork pies, sausage rolls and crisps.

Dinner: Processed foods like curry made with a jarred sauce with sauces, followed by apple pie with ice cream or custard.

Snacks: Crisps, chocolate bars, biscuits, cakes, buttery toast, sandwiches

After menu:

Breakfast: Poached eggs on toast or overnight oats (porridge oats mixed with fat-free yogurt and fresh fruit).

Mid-morning: Fruit or veg sticks

Lunch: Homemade butternut squash soup or a salad

Mid-afternoon: Fruit

Dinner: Seafood paella or lamb with green veg stir fry, followed by a fat-free yogurt or stewed apple with mincemeat

Evening: A small bar of chocolate.

Notes to Editors

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 18,000 groups held weekly across the UK and Republic of Ireland via a network of 4,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques.

Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density. Our phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. The principles behind Slimming World’s philosophy are based on a deep understanding of the challenges faced by overweight people and a recognition that those who struggle with weight carry a double burden, the weight itself and a burden of guilt and shame about their weight. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating behaviour change in a warm and friendly group environment. Consultant training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS.

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000.

For the Press Office please email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk